Why is it important to have effective onboarding?

An effective onboarding process helps your new hires get to know the organisation, obtain clarity on their role and understand what’s required from them. A poor onboarding process (or lack of) results in confusion, takes longer for the employee to be productive and have a sense of belonging. Ultimately this results in lower engagement and potentially early attrition.

Evidence suggests that one-third of all new hires quit their jobs within the first six months which is especially concerning when we consider that most new hires take over 6 months to get up to speed. In contrast, new hires who experience great onboarding are 69% more likely to stay with the organisation for 3 years or more. In addition, organisations with a standard onboarding process experience 50 percent greater new-hire productivity. When we consider how much we spend on recruitment, it should surely be a ‘no-brainer’ to support this with an effective onboarding process if we want a return on this investment.

How can the onboarding process be effective yet simple?

It is really important to clarify your onboarding process and ensure that line managers take ownership for their role in it. Some advocates suggest the use of software to lessen the load on HR managers providing clarity and transparency for all involved. 

Using software for your onboarding practices can also reduce manual intervention and human errors, providing a more consistent experience for all new hires. Overall, it can shorten the time it would normally take to complete the employee onboarding lifecycle. It can also provide greater visibility around how new hires are being managed, whether they have short term objectives and relevant development. It can also be used to manage probationary reviews to signal the end of onboarding.

When is the right time to employ best practices?

Employee onboarding should ideally start from the recruitment phase and not wait for the first day. Some processes allow you to gather key facts about the new hire beforehand, allowing you to personalise their first day and maximise that sense of belonging. For example, if their favourite colour is blue and they like specific chocolate, you can put a blue balloon and chocolate on their desk (or send it to their home) to welcome them into your team from day one. You can read more about this in our blog on the five types of onboarding your organisation should be doing here.

Effective Onboarding: What are the best practices?

Equally, it is essential to coordinate with other key team members beforehand and notify them of the start date of the new hire. Share out responsibilities for training, support and buddying so that it doesn’t all fall on one person and provides a variety of relationships. By coordinating ahead of time, you can ensure employees are ready to go right from day one. Think of all the little things that could potentially cause roadblocks; email, access and permissions to the relevant documentation, where to park, where to eat. If you are organised, this can cause great comfort for them, allowing them to push past the nerves and get started.

What does a new employee expect from you? What would demonstrate best practice?

An employee on their first day would be looking to avoid feeling overwhelmed. In order to remove their initial apprehension about feeling like an imposter in the role, it is important to break down the onboarding process into phases.

0-3 months

One potential reason why nearly one-third of new hires leave in the first six months could be a lack of clear communication of the responsibilities of the role. This can lead to the employee feeling “this is not what I signed up for”. Therefore, it is essential that a line manager sets out their expectations for entering the working environment and culture. It should be made clear to new hires what their objectives are for their first week, and then for the following months.

Crucially, it is also important to set the foundation for good employee relationships between directors, managers, and teams. This can be achieved through introductions, or something we like to do is to have each team member designate 30 minutes to have a sit-down with the new hire. This enables us to explain the team member’s current roles, where their skills lie and how they can help the new hire with any tasks they may have. This helps new employees to settle into their roles as well as fit into the overall company culture.

3- 18 months

The next two years of development should be all about the new hire communicating with the employer and finding out ways they can make a meaningful difference to the output of the company.

This would be a key phase for the Learning and Development (L&D) team within your company to engage with the new hire to find out about continual professional development courses that would be relevant to the new employee. This will boost engagement with the company, which will likely improve retention.

If you are from a smaller company without an L&D team, you can promote development in other ways. Perhaps through online courses from sites such as LinkedIn Learning, through advocating internal knowledge-sharing or by organising an external trainer. With cost constraints, it’s especially important to conduct a thorough training needs analysis before deciding on what staff development to invest in. It’s also important to think about what approaches would work for your organisation.

What are the common mistakes that companies make?

During the onboarding process, communication is key. Many firms get the “social” part of the equation right, but maybe at the expense of also managing onboarding-related tasks successfully. Some organisations stop socialising after the obligatory new hire lunch on day one of employment. The call to action here is for employers to start thinking beyond the first week for chances for new employees to collaborate with others.

How do you ensure effective onboarding?

  • Discuss the employee’s experience and check if it matches their expectations. This is important during the waiting period between when your employee accepts your employment offer and starting the role
  • Set clear expectations and short term goals around their performance and offer consistent feedback about progress
  • Check in regularly to see if the new hire has any concerns or issues
  • The first quarter is also a useful time to ask for feedback about the onboarding process and any suggestions
  • Identify if they need any additional training in order to implement this over the next 12 months


In conclusion, an effective onboarding process should form a key part of your recruitment and engagement strategy. Many organisations fail to do this, which provides those who do with an opportunity for competitive advantage. Communication of objectives, goals, and outcomes with timelines for achievement will provide clarity, speed to performance and additional motivation. It is also really important to create opportunities to build social relationships (particularly if working remotely) beyond just the first week. Those who feel they belong are going to contribute to their full potential for the long term.

Infographic: The 5 Types of Onboarding

Listen to the HR Uprising Podcast

Request a quote today

If you are looking for performance management software for 1000+ employees get in touch for a quote today.

    The 360 Tool for Independent Consultants

    Talk to one of our partnership specialists today.

      Not quite ready for a demo?

      Fill in your details below to watch a 3 minute overview of Actus Software

        Get in touch with us today!

        If you have any questions, enquiries or just want to say how much you like us (or what we can do better), please drop us a line.