Haley Bucelewicz | 03.20.19

It turns out first impressions really do matter—at least when it comes to hiring and retaining new employees. According to IDC, 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 90 days. This makes onboarding a crucial first step for organizations wishing to avoid the high costs of unwanted turnover.

In fact, a Forbes Insights and SilkRoad Survey found a strong correlation between onboarding and unwanted employee turnover: 95% of all low turnover firms have an onboarding process that helps with retention.

If you still aren’t seeing why employee engagement and retention is important, consider these facts:

  • 1 in 4 CFOs say unwanted turnover accounts for 25-50% of labor costs (Forbes Insights and Silk Road)
  • The cost to replace an employee can be as much as 150% of their annual salary, due to factors like recruiter fees, interview and training costs, reduced productivity, and loss of special skills or experience (Society for Human Resource Management)

Not to mention, turnover is associated with productivity loss, poor employee morale, and loss of agility. See why you should implement more strategic onboarding?

What makes onboarding effective?

Onboarding is the process by which your candidate becomes a new hire and your new hire becomes a productive, engaged, and valued employee.”ClearCompany

Oftentimes new employee onboarding is treated as a one day to one week process focused on administrative tasks like filling out paperwork, setting up software and accounts, or reading through orientation manuals. Employees are then left to their own devices, likely feeling exhausted from trying to soak in the company policies and culture in a single day.

Effective onboarding is much more strategic than that. It’s a long-term process that should start before the first day and should last through the employee’s first year. You want to make sure they feel immediately welcomed and appreciated, have time to settle in, and have what they need to succeed in the first year and beyond. Your ultimate goals during this process should be to acclimate, engage, and retain the employee. 

Benefits of Effective Onboarding

It’s worthwhile to get more strategic about onboarding to reap the associated benefits. It can lead to better job performance, greater employee commitment to the organization, and better retention. Not to mention it helps reduce stress and increase job satisfaction for new employees. Consider these facts:

  • Effective onboarding can improve retention rates by 52%, time to productivity by 60%, and overall customer satisfaction by 53% (Deloitte)
  • Employees are 58% more likely to stay with a company for at least 3 years if they go through an effective onboarding process (ClearCompany)
  • 92% of CFOs believe that proper onboarding could decrease or eliminate heavy costs associated with unwanted turnover (Forbes Insights and Silk Road)

Onboarding Best Practices

By now you’re probably starting to see why better onboarding is so crucial. Let’s talk about how you can structure your onboarding plan, starting with some best practices:

Paperless onboarding

What sounds like a more memorable first day? Spending the entire day filling out paperwork or meeting your team and having lunch with your coworkers? Probably not the paperwork.

While filling out mandatory forms is part of the process, you can make it easier for your new hires and your HR team with digital forms. This makes the process much faster, leaving more time for training and integrating new employees. New hires can even fill this out before they start and instead spend the first day socializing with their new coworkers and getting acclimated to the workspace.

Relationship Building

It’s important to ensure new hires feel like part of the team and feel comfortable with their managers and supervisors. Before the employee starts, notify their coworkers and encourage them to set aside time to meet with them. Managers and supervisors should also make themselves available when the employee starts to set the tone of the relationship by making them feel respected and valued.

If you can, take the new hire out for lunch with the team on the first day. It’s a great way for the new employee to socialize and get to know their coworkers. This is key considering that employees who have a best friend at work are generally more productive and more likely to stay longer.

Mentor Programs

Partnering new hires with veteran employees is a great way to quickly get new employees up to speed and ensure they have assistance throughout the process. According to a survey, 56% of employees felt that having a mentor at work was very important when first starting. It can also increase employee productivity by 88%. In addition to helping new hires learn quickly about the job, it’s a great opportunity for relationship building and bonding.

Be sure to carefully select the right candidate for mentoring. You’ll want someone who’s engaged, aligned with company objectives, and has exceptional communication skills.

Be Clear and Transparent

96% of job seekers say it’s important to work for a company that is transparent. Be careful not to misrepresent your company or your culture because you think it will look better to the new employee. Instead, embrace the culture you have or work towards fixing it.

Likewise, new employees might feel a little lost in their first few days or weeks. Set clear expectations and outline their responsibilities so they know what they need to be successful.

Example Onboarding Structure

Now that you’re armed with best practices, here’s an example of what your onboarding structure could look like:

Before the First Day

  • Send an email to current employees letting them know about the new hire
  • Get work area and accounts set up
  • Provide written statement of responsibilities and objectives
  • Provide new hire paperwork (electronically)

First day

  • Introduce them to the team and management (clear your day for this)
  • Assign a suitable mentor
  • Go out for a group lunch

First week

  • Begin training
  • Familiarize with culture and policies, set expectations, answer any questions
  • Assign first project (that allows them to learn hands on, no menial tasks)

Over Next Few Months

  • Schedule regular check-in meetings
  • Discuss long term goals
  • Encourage socialization with coworkers
  • Gather feedback and review onboarding process

First Year

  • Shift from on-the-job training to continuous development

Ultimately if you want to ensure your new employees are productive, engaged, and willing to stay with your company for years to come, start things off right with better onboarding. Develop a long-term and strategic plan, keeping these best practices in mind. Your employees will thank you.

For more employee engagement and retention best practices, check out the ClickSoftware blog. You can also check out some of the additional resources below.

Additional Resources

Onboarding Tips and Guides:

Employee Engagement and Field Service: