On-boarding New Hires: A Foundation for Employee & Organizational Success

What was your most memorable first day on a new job? How did your new manager make you feel on that day? As I reflect, I met the first day of each new job with excitement and anticipation. I wondered…will the job live up to my expectations? What will it be like to actually work with the people on my team? Will I fit in with the culture of the organization…the team? Will there be in place systems and an environment that allows me to be successful and flourish? I’m willing to bet many of you have had some of these thoughts cross your minds as you started your new jobs.

An employee’s on-boarding experience is critical to his/her decision whether to stay with an organization or move on. If you’re the hiring manager, typically, you have as little as 30 to 90 days to convince the new employee that they have made the right choice in joining your company. This decision can even take six months to a year as studies indicate 70% of new hires will decide to stay or leave within their first six months of employment. The employee’s decision about this choice is important because of the impact it can have on your employee retention rate, and ultimately the bottom line performance of your organization. Without a top-notch on-boarding program, on average, companies may lose up to 25% of new employees within the first year. Additionally, it can cost $3K – $20K to replace an employee, given the level of their position.


My most memorable first day is one that I often share when I’m helping organizations review and improve their onboarding program and processes. My most memorable first day was definitely a positive one! My new manager ensured that there were meaningful touch points along the way to my first day. This is an essential part of your pre-onboarding process, and your new hire’s experience. It’s important to make them feel as though they haven’t been forgotten during the time they are waiting to start the new job.

After my official acceptance of the job offer, he called to personally welcome me to the team and express how excited he was that I was starting soon. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, the calls didn’t stop there. I received a personal call or email from each team member in my department. I also got a call from the Senior Vice President of HR! Wow, I thought! This executive took the time out of her busy schedule to call and welcome me to the organization! Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about my decision.


On my first day, the morning was pretty typical of most new hires. I sat with an HR representative who walked me through my new hire orientation, paperwork, and review of policies. I was then escorted to my department. When I arrived, I was greeted with balloons and flowers from my team. I had my care package full of everything I would need to settle into my new role (i.e. logo shirt, water bottle, and nametag). My PC was all set up and access to all the systems needed for my job were in place. I had a working phone and directory of the important numbers I would need. I was given a layout of the floor plan so I could find important places like the restroom, exits, employee lounge, and where my colleagues sat. I had a binder of essential documents (i.e. job description, initial performance goals, and company/department information) and a listing of online directories where I can find the documents. My schedule of meetings and who to network with for my first week were all set (including specific times to touch base with my manager for feedback) as well as a plan for my continued on-the-job training and indoctrination to the company and my team for the next 90 days and six months after. These elements are important when 23% of respondents to BambooHR’s survey said they would have stayed with the company if they had received “clear guidelines” to what their job responsibilities were. Finally, a ‘go to’ buddy was assigned to me as well as lunch partners for my first two weeks. Wow! I felt that they were prepared for me and wanted me to have a solid start in my new role! How many of you can say that your first day experience was like this?


Onboarding your new hires should be more than the completion of paperwork and orienting them to your company policies. It should also be about quickly getting them engaged and committed to the company. It’s about loyalty, which leads to retention. Your onboarding program is a way to quickly integrate your new employees into the organization, giving them the tools, resources, and knowledge needed to become fully productive and successful in their roles.

How you onboard new employees really matter! The potential bottom line impact of an onboarding program when delivered in the right way can be huge.

  • 54% greater new hire productivity. It can take 8-12 months, depending on the complexity of the job, before a new hire is completely proficient in his/her job. Lost productivity can cost your organization 1% – 2.5% of its total business revenues. Your onboarding program can increase time to productivity for your new hire.
  • 50% greater new hire retention. Employees who feel they are supported and learning are more likely to remain with your organization. This is about employee engagement. Effective onboarding can increase employee engagement by 20% or more. In a study by MacLeod and Clarke, companies with highly engaged employees can experience up to a 19.2% growth in operating income over a 12-month period. Happy and engaged employees have a positive effect on productivity and overall employee satisfaction; thus, reducing turnover.
  • 58% of employees are likely to remain with your company for three years with a great onboarding experience. With the average spend per new hire being $4K, reducing the time and cost to replace employees due to voluntary turnover should be the goal of any organization.


Well for a start, here are some on-boarding best practices you can incorporate in your program:

  • Make onboarding a positive and welcoming experience. Ensure everything the person will need is in place on day one.
  • Reduce time spent on paperwork. Automate as much of the process as possible. Your new hire will appreciate it, and you, as a hiring manager, will as well.
  • Create a structured program that can be easily replicated for each new hire. At minimum, the program should include the following components:
    • A pre-onboarding process to begin a positive new hire experience
    • Activities to indoctrinate the new employee to the company’s culture
    • A written plan of the new hire’s orientation program (checklists are a great tool)
    • A schedule of touch points for feedback 30/60/90 days and beyond
    • On-the-Job training, tools, and resources needed to perform the job
    • A ‘go to’ person, other than the manager, who can help the new hire learn the formal and informal organizational roadmap…even ask the ‘embarrassing’ or ‘dumb’ questions
    • Ongoing evaluation to improve your program

How many of you are frustrated with the constant churn of new employees exiting your company? Think for a moment. Is your program designed to prepare your new employees for long term success in your organizations? Can you see the value in the upfront investment of time, money, and resources towards this effort?

My goal is to challenge each of you to rethink your on-boarding programs, because the cost can be very high if you don’t get this part of the employee experience right!


Webb-Morgan, Megan. “What Every Leader Should Know About Onboarding”. http://themojocompany.com/2013/03/what-every-leader-should-know-about-onboarding/#sthash.3S9aDF63.dpuf. March 3, 2013.

Solar, Aria. “The Onboarding Statistics You Need to Know”.  http://www.urbanbound.com/blog/onboarding-infographic-statistics. January 16, 2015.

“The Business Case for Investing in Onboarding Programs”. https://www.paycor.com/resource-center/the-business-case-for-investing-in-onboarding. August 10, 2017.

“Why Onboarding That New Hire Will Increase Your Bottom Line”. http://static1.squarespace.com/static/51c9e574e4b0bf9a1f48726f/t/57c098dbe3df28b64a4b8f79/1472241716593/Why+Onboarding+That+New+Hire+Will+Increase.pdf. Gillespie Associates, 2016.

Haydon, Reese. “Show Me the Money: The ROI of Employee Engagement”. https://www.decision-wise.com/show-me-the-money-the-roi-of-employee-engagement/. DecisionWise.

“The Definitive Guide to Onboarding: Everything You Need to Know to Onboard Like a Pro” survey report. http://www.bamboohr.com. BambooHR. February 2014.

Posted by Donna Rhodes in Workforce, Workforce-Development, Workforce-Training

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