What is an effective Onboarding process for new employees?

What is an effective Onboarding process for new employees?

Having a defined and effective onboarding process is key for high performance, employee engagement and retention. An onboarding checklist or digital program can help you get organised and give new hires the best possible start into a new role.

First impressions last….and, it seems, count. Research from the Harvard Business Review suggests that 33% of all new hires look for a new job within their first six months. Cue the importance of an effective onboarding process which seeks to communicate the knowledge, skills and behaviour necessary for a new employee to be an effective member of the organisation. Done well, it can help engage the new hire, impart where they have a role to play in creating value and, crucially, accelerate the delivery of this value.

So what makes for an effective onboarding process? A good starting point is to consider what not to do, or common onboarding pitfalls, namely:

  • Bombarding the new hire with information
  • Focusing on HR policies to the exclusion of building a network and employee engagement
  • Lacking an Onboarding strategy and having no platform to support a consistent and measurable roll-out across staff and departments.

A standardised Onboarding process is reported to lead to 54% higher productivity in new hires and should, ideally, be simple and scalable. Leading companies are focusing on 3 key areas in developing effective Onboarding strategies:


Pre-boarding can start as soon as a new hire has signed a contract, and an efficient process should allow for the automation of the many documents a new hire needs to fill in and sign. It’s important not to pile on too much information too soon, but provide a structured and guided learning path that makes a new hire feel supported. Having the ability to revisit and review onboarding information on demand can be very useful. Consider defining and utilising onboarding checklists that can ensure both the new employee and management/HR can monitor and track progress against defined success measures. Knowing what is expected of you and fulfilling these requirements can be reassuring and empowering for new employees.

Employee Engagement:

Unlike a brief orientation period, onboarding lasts at least a few months, for some roles even up to a year. This is a long time frame and without a defined pathway of activities, there is a high chance of employees drifting. The good news is – it does not need a lot of effort to periodically offer the opportunity to develop strong connections through networking, social interactions and mentoring. Last but not least, the new starter must understand the company’s strategy to be able to become part of it. Onboarding is increasingly recognised as a powerful and meaningful way to articulate your company’s vision, mission and values and bring your new staff onboard.

Skills and Knowledge:

To maximise potential, new employees need to be given access to the knowledge they need for their role, with any skills or knowledge gaps needing to be identified and bridged as soon as possible. Onboarding should ensure that new hires not just read but understand and embrace the compliance rules and regulations and ideally allow for existing skills to be enhanced through training opportunities and peer-to-peer learning.

According to the Wall Street Journal it can cost upwards of twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement, making it simply good business sense to focus on an effective onboarding strategy, process and platform. Retaining and bringing talent up to speed as quickly as possible is a win win formula  –  in minimising the anxiety and challenges a new hire can face, the focus can instead to be on harnassing their enthusiasm for the new job and allowing greater productivity.

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