Onboarding crucial to retention

by Cameron Edmond04 Jul 2013

A quick, smooth and effective onboarding process is crucial to retention and high performance from staff, one  industry expert has said.

Within the first 30 days of employment, an employee will decide if they feel welcome. Staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment 22% of the time, and 90% of new employees make their decision in regards to staying at a company within the first six months.

High turn-over rates riddle Fortune 500 companies, with an estimated half of all senior hires failing within 18 months. Fifty per cent of hourly workers will also leave their jobs in the first three months of employment, according to Talya Bauer, Cameron professor of management at Portland State University.

“Losing an employee who is a poor fit or not performing well may be fine, but losing employees because they are confused, feel alienated or lack confidence indicates inadequate onboarding,” Bauer said.

Recruiting remains a high-cost venture, and so organisations must establish effective onboarding procedures to help integrate new employees into the organisations.

Bauer recommends written, step-by-step onboarding programs, which outline specific timelines that include what the employee’s duties and what assistance they should expect. This helps foster an understanding of how interactions function within an organisation’s culture.

A mistake often made by both organisations and new employees is to under-estimate how long onboarding will take. “After 90 days in the job people think they are set and ready to go, but research shows organisations that check-in early have a chance to identify potential problems,” said Bauer.

He recommends using monthly milestones for the first year of employment to help gauge the employee’s progress.

“I think the industry has been very focused on metrics to do with costs to hire [and] speed of hiring,” Kimberly Hubble, global leader for Hudson RPO, previously told HC. Hubble views onboarding as a critical instrument of HR, and suggests an interview after the probation period to generate a feedback loop and ensure every onboarding case is an improvement on the last.

“The onboarding process is critical and doing that interview at the end gives a real indication,” Hubble explained.

While the specifics will vary from workplace to workplace, the benefits remain the same. A well-structured onboarding process will foster good social integration, knowledge of organisational culture, commitment, higher performance and lower turnover.

For more on onboarding, check out Tuesday’s opinion piece.


  • by George Bradt (PrimeGenesis Executive Onboarding) 4/07/2013 8:01:39 PM

    Great points. It's even better if the specific onboarding program for each individual is co-created by the new employee and his or her direct supervisor. This leads to the greatest chance that they will both be committed to success.

  • by Josh Thomas 11/07/2013 6:57:02 AM

    It doesn't necessarily matter what you call it, it's about employees having passion for what they are doing. Gallup did a study last year that showed it was one of the most important factors of employee retention.

    Notre Dame also expanded the study (via infographic) to show the cost savings of employee passion, which was pretty interesting (if you're interested it's here: http://esteem.nd.edu/news/40964-infographic-employee-passion-and-retention/)

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