Onboarding: Benefits and Myths

Onboarding: Benefits and Myths

by on 17 Oct, 2018

For a growing business, the attraction of top quality talent becomes an increasingly key component of steering the business towards success. Today, more and more companies are realizing that proactively investing time and money into building an effective recruiting process has benefits that spill over to all aspects of the business. Building a strong recruiting process can result in higher quality candidates, better hires, and ultimately, improved employee retention. But the effort should not stop once a hire is made. If employers fail to implement a proper onboarding program with new hires, then all the resources that went towards recruiting that employee could go to waste.

Employee turnover is an issue that all employers must contend with, especially during the first year after the hire. In fact, an Allied Workforce Mobility Survey found that 23% of new hires turnover before their first anniversary. The impressions left on a new hire during the first days, weeks, and months on the job set the tone for their job satisfaction and ultimately, whether or not they choose to stay with the company.  Thus, having a proper onboarding program is crucial. Research shows that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.

Despite these obvious benefits, many employers are still not implementing a formal onboarding program. The Allied Workforce Mobility Survey found that four out five companies do not have a specific budget for onboarding. While setting aside a budget for onboarding may seem unimportant, especially for smaller companies with already limited budget constraints, the reality is that the short and long-term benefits of onboarding make the initial investment far worth it in the long run.

Benefits of Onboarding

Increased confidence of the new hire. When employers make a clear effort to welcome a new hire and make them feel like a valued member of the team, it positively impacts the new hire’s feelings of confidence and self-efficacy in their new role. This will lead to improved productivity and reaffirm the new hire’s decision to accept the role.

Role clarification and goal setting. Research found that only 58% of companies provide clear job titles and identify expectations for employees. Furthermore, only 39% establish milestones and set goals for new employees. Proper onboarding provides a good opportunity for this clarification and the setting of expectations and goals.

Improved company morale. As mentioned, having a proper onboarding program is crucial to employee retention. A high turnover rate is not only costly to the company from a financial perspective, but also from a company morale perspective. When employees are frequently leaving the company, it sets a negative tone and hurts the morale of the rest of the team. When employers invest in onboarding, however, it can serve as a positive team building exercise for the company as a whole.

These are just a few of the overarching benefits that come from successful onboarding. Despite the clear benefits, there are still some myths and misconceptions surrounding what exactly onboarding is.

Common Onboarding Myths

Onboarding is the same thing as training. Many companies use the terms “training” and “onboarding” interchangeably, but training is only one element of a successful onboarding program. Training involves helping new hires learn the soft and hard skills that will help them succeed on the job, including how to use various software, and how to communicate with managers. But a comprehensive onboarding program must address not only the “how” of the job but also the “why”, which means that onboarding must also address larger topics such as company mission, values, culture.

Onboarding only happens during the first few days or weeks. Many companies make an attempt to onboard employees but only view onboarding as a series of boxes to check during the new hire’s first few days or weeks on the job. A successful onboarding program is one that starts immediately after an offer is accepted, brings the new hire through the first few days on the job, and continues on throughout the first year, with check-ins and milestones at regular intervals.

Onboarding is the sole responsibility of the HR team. While the HR team, if one exists, can be expected to perform a lot of the legwork of the onboarding process, the ultimate success of the onboarding program is driven by the level of buy-in from players at all levels, from the CEO to the new hire’s direct supervisor, all the way down to the team members that the new hire will work with on a daily basis. In the first few days on the job, the new hire should have time to meet with all of these people. Beyond the first few days, there should be opportunities for mentorship and continued socialization that makes the new hire really feel that they are a part of the larger organization.

In conclusion, having a proper onboarding program is crucial for any employer hoping to get the most out of all the time and money spent on recruiting efforts. Effective onboarding greatly improves employee retention and brings many other benefits, but many companies are not putting enough emphasis on the onboarding process, or are viewing it simply as a series of boxes to check during the new hire’s first few days or weeks, rather than an ongoing process that can extend all the way throughout an employee’s first year on the job.

This post is part of a series on onboarding. Check out the other posts in the series:

Onboarding: The Importance of Preboarding

Onboarding: First Day Best Practices

Onboarding: Going Beyond Orientation


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