Onboarding New Employees in 2024: Getting it Right

Retaining great workers starts in the hiring and onboarding process. Experience and research tell us that it’s essential that new employees feel welcomed and set up for success. What may surprise you is that it’s in the early days and weeks of a new job that an employee decides their future with your company. Let’s dig a little deeper to discover how you can create the best onboarding experience for your new employees and why it matters.

Download our Free Onboarding Checklist for Hiring Managers. Keep track of your onboarding tasks to help make the onboarding process great for your new hire.

Why Do Some New Employees Quit During Onboarding?

Starting a new job can be overwhelming. You don’t know what to expect for your day-to-day, you don’t know the people you’ll be working with, and you don’t even know where the bathrooms are located. Managing Director of Corporate Talent Strategy, Courtney Palmer, says it’s only natural for employees to feel uncertain as they transition to a new role.

“We should aim to overcommunicate in those early days and weeks because it can be an unsettling time for a new employee who is already taking a leap of faith,” she shares. “Employees are evaluating you, your shared values, and the company culture. We need to be proactively giving information and reassurance.” Otherwise, these uncertainties, can lead to higher attrition rates.

And how quickly that turnover could happen may come as a surprise. Research dissected by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) shows that new hires overwhelmingly decide how long they’ll stay with the company in the first six months of employment. Another survey reveals that 20% of new hires resign in their first 45 days.

As SHRM points out:

  • Approximately one-third of employees surveyed admitted that they would quit a job within six months of hire.
  • One in six survey respondents say they have left a job between their first week and three months.

Of those who left within six months, SHRM explains that:

  • 23% indicated receiving clear guidelines on their responsibilities would have encouraged them to stay
  • 21% felt they were not trained effectively
  • 17% said that better rapport with co-workers would have been helpful
  • 9% reported needing more guidance from managers and co-workers
  • One-third of new hires reported having little to no onboarding
  • 15% cited that an inefficient onboarding process contributed to their decision to leave

Meanwhile, new hires are more than twice as likely (58%) to still be with the same company three years later if they participated in a structured onboarding process.

Clearly, your onboarding experience is essential to much more than making sure your new staffer knows how to do their job and can find the break room. It’s a short-term way to set them up for success and a long-term investment in their success—and your company’s future.

“The first 30 days are crucial,” explains Palmer. “People make decisions about their trajectory with the company that quickly, and it can make or break long-term employee engagement.”

Complete Guide: How to Hire Employees

What Is Onboarding?

Before we go any further, let’s look at what the onboarding process of new employees entails.

An onboarding process typically includes activities such as new hire paperwork, dedicated time for orientation, and training on the company’s mission, structure, culture, and values. The process varies by organization and can be as short as a few days or up to several months to a year.

The onboarding process can begin before the first day on the job. Perhaps your company could offer new hires a way to complete paperwork online to make sure everything is set up before they start.

Insight Global tries to bring potential new hires to our offices at some point during the interview process and shares the I-9 and payroll paperwork before a new worker’s day one.

“We find having them come on-site helps,” Palmer says. “It helps us be transparent, and it allows candidates to see the culture, meet a lot of the people they’ll be working with, and experience our pace.” We understand this isn’t always possible, especially with the rise of remote employees. But having employees meeting fellow co-workers face-to-face is a great primary step in onboarding.

Orientation is an essential part, but it’s just the beginning. Remember, a fully formed onboarding process can be much more than paperwork and orientation. In fact, having a well-developed onboarding process is mutually beneficial. It can:

Companies can create a multi-phase onboarding process with up to five phases:

  • Pre-boarding begins once a new hire signs their paperwork.
  • Welcome/orientation can last up to a week to help new hires become accustomed to the organization.
  • Role-specific training helps new workers learn their roles, responsibilities, and how to do their jobs and will often be led by their direct manager or team.
  • Transitioning to their role, where they are working more independently, incorporating feedback from training, and starting to own their responsibilities more and more.
  • Ongoing development helps employees continue to grow in their role over time and can be seen as part of the long-term onboarding process.

INFOGRAPHIC: Employee Retention: How Do Culture & Connection Play a Role?

What Hiring Managers Can Add to the Experience of Onboarding New Employees

Recent Gallup studies reveal that only 12% of employees feel they had a great onboarding experience and only 29% feeling prepared and supported for their new role. Companies are negatively impacted when turnover rates are high, both financially and in terms of productivity of the team but even more so when someone leaves within the first few months.

“When a new hire leaves within the first 90 days, we credit that to some sort of miss in the hiring process; something that could have been avoided during the interview stages” Palmer said. “It may have been transparency regarding the job or culture, or transparency about the state of the team they’re joining. People need to know what they’re signing up for.”

A great onboarding experience can increase retention by 50%. Let’s look at some common challenges in the onboarding process – and how to solve them.

More Transparency

Ensuring transparency during the recruiting and hiring process will help streamline the transition into a successful pre-boarding phase, laying the foundations for a smooth and efficient onboarding and transition. Nearly three in four employees desire more transparency, while three in 10 employees have quit a job due to a lack of transparency. Increasing transparency can foster an increase in employee satisfaction: a vast majority of employees with transparent employers reported satisfaction with their employment.

Additional Planning

Planning ahead is vital.

“Don’t wait for someone to show up on the first day to think about training and acclimating them to their environment,” Palmer suggests. “Whether there’s a formalized process or something you’re putting together on your own as their supervisor, map out what their first week and first thirty days will look like before their first day.”

“People are eager to get up and running quickly and to be productive,” she says, acknowledging that new hires are set up for failure when there’s a lack of planning. “Onboarding doesn’t go well when we have people rush into starting work without allowing them to adjust and get familiar with the environment. Don’t rush someone in the door to be productive.”

Palmer says that switching to strategic start dates versus randomized ones helped Insight Global solve some of their planning issues. When there were random start dates, the company struggled to ensure that people had their workspaces set up and the correct equipment and program accesses. “It looked like we weren’t prioritizing our new hires,” she explains.

Also, encourage employees to spend meetings learning rather than trying to produce. If they come up to speed quickly and naturally, great. But allow new employees the time to learn the team, business, and strategies.

Encourage a Sense of Belonging

Palmer stresses the importance of simple things like ensuring the correct spelling of names, having a desk prepped and equipment set up, and creating a welcoming environment to help new hires feel safe and wanted.

“It’s important for new hires to see that there’s a place for them and that they belong,” she says.

Creating a sense of belonging can be an overlooked aspect of onboarding. High belonging has been linked to a 56% increase in job performance, cuts turnover risks in half, and even a sharp reduction in the use of sick days. This can result in millions of dollars in cost-savings and increased revenue via improvements in employee productivity, engagement, and attendance.

Communicate More

“Retention is tied to a thoughtful onboarding experience,” Palmer says. She suggests having a day one conversation with new hires. “Be clear with new hires about your investment in their success at the company. Show you’re super excited to have them. Be diligent about their ongoing development. Set clear expectations for both parties.”

Encourage Engagement

Palmer says that it’s helpful when new hires are active participants in their own onboarding. She encourages prospective employees to ask questions during the interview process. “Ask about the culture, a day in the life at the company, inquire on the current state of the team and the company to understand if it’s in its infancy or well-established. Ask about growth potential, current technologies and processes in place to ensure alignment. And ask about plans to get new hires up and running.”

Then be transparent about your onboarding and training experience and offer feedback for improvements or enhancements.

Onboarding New Employees Takes Time & Effort

As an employer, the onboarding process can feel like a lot to create when you’re also running your day-to-day operations. But, once it’s in place, you may see huge benefits almost immediately.

Is Onboarding Overwhelming?

Insight Global can help, from finding candidates to handling all of your onboarding paperwork and payroll. Let us know how we can help you succeed. Questions? Call us toll-free: 855-485-8853