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Onboarding experiences that set up new hires for success

Onboarding experiences that set up new hires for success

Written by:
Bo Dury
Reviewed by :
Date created
March 12, 2021
Last updated:
June 19, 2024
5 min read
Table of content
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Key takeaways

• Effective onboarding processes are crucial for new hires to feel prepared, engaged, and connected in their new environment.

• Good onboarding experiences lead to higher retention rates, increased employee engagement, and improved performance in reaching business goals.

• Common onboarding mistakes include unbalanced programs, lack of company transparency, and unclear expectations, which can result in early employee turnover.

• Tips for creating the best onboarding experience include setting clear expectations, establishing balanced programs, creating memorable experiences, and utilizing internal social networks.

• A well-structured onboarding program is essential for new employees to quickly adapt, establish relationships, and contribute to the success of the organization.

New position, new environment, new colleagues – it can be quite nerve-wracking, challenging yet exciting. It all depends on how well the new hires are being prepared and familiarized with the new adjustments. After endless hours of searching for, identifying, interviewing, and recruiting the right talent for your business, an even bigger challenge starts – the onboarding processes.

Onboarding is an established lever that can greatly improve retention, 69% of workers are more inclined to remain for three or more years at an employer after experiencing a great onboarding experience. Structured onboarding, such as facilitating learning, relationships and connections, builds a successful framework for new employees, which leads into a positive ROI for your business.

What could onboarding mean for your organization if perceived positively by your employees? And where does it often go wrong?

Onboarding process - illustration

Increase Retention by engaging new hires

New employees with good onboarding experiences diminish the costly fall-out of employees and contribute to decrease a high staff turnover by 25-50%. In fact, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with an organization for the next 3 years, if they experienced great onboarding.

good onboarding experience - concept

Higher Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a metric that impacts everything from productivity to customer success and beyond. Studies show that 54% of companies with onboarding programs reported that great onboarding results in higher employee engagement. This is due to positive impressions from the very beginning and clear establishments of what is expected from each employee in their respective role.

Consequently, onboarding also creates an emotional connection between team members. An emotional connection that helps employees get through the job even on the toughest day.

Onboarding program - concept

Improve Performance – Increased Likelihood of Reaching Goals

Employees are more productive and are better able to realize business goals when having received a well and complete onboarding. It has been reported that 77% of employees, who reach their first performance goals have received a positive onboarding. The productivity level after the standard 12 months is more likely to be achieved in just 4 months – resulting in 50% greater new-hire productivity.

The longer it takes to get an employee up-to-speed, the higher the waste of time and productivity – performance. In the graph besides,  you can see the different economic value stages, which further explains the ROI of a new employee throughout time.

Economic value stages of new employees
Benefits of a good onboarding process

Source: Bersin by Deloitte. (Oct 2014). Strategic Onboarding Can Help New Hires “Get Off on the Right Foot”

New hires are great advocates

A memorable, positive onboarding experience makes employees feel welcome. It further helps them to obtain clarity in their role, get to know the organization, and forge a good relationship with other employees. Consequently, this will create a branding asset to your organization. Employees are more likely to communicate such positive experiences to the labor market as they feel a sense of being proud and happy in their place of work.

In short, good onboarding means more success for your employees, your organization and customers.

Wat vaak gebeurt, is dat een enthousiaste nieuwe starter een slechte onboarding meemaakt. Als de verwachtingen niet overeen komen met wat er daadwerkelijk plaatsvindt, leidt dit meer dan eens tot spijt over het accepteren van de baan en duurt 5% van de dienstverbanden van nieuwe medewerkers slechts 1 dag.Het opzetten van een onboarding programma vraagt vanuit verschillende invalshoeken om aandacht. Meestal schieten organisaties op de volgende manieren tekort:

Onboarding mistakes and results – Why do your employees quit?

For many new hires, the first experience ends up being the deal-breaker. It fails to live up to their expectations resulting in regret with their decision to accept the job offer and quitting after a short period – 5% of new employees only last a day.

There are several factors to consider when setting up a new onboarding program. Contributing factors to higher turnover, absenteeism, lower engagement and productivity, and ultimately higher costs could be:

Unbalanced onboarding programs

The traditional onboarding of an ‘’onboarding-day’’ or jumping straight from the recruiting phase into a new hire’s first day on the job without a little preparation, creates unnecessarily stress and contributes to a bad experience.

Start off on the right foot by beginning onboarding before a new employee even walks through the company doors. Unstructured or short-lived onboarding programs quickly diminish the enthusiasm of starting a new job. Often claimed, one in three new hires actually become disengaged and starts looking for a new job in the first six months, as their onboarding stops right after their first initial week​​.

stressed employee - illustration

Company transparency

Only 40% of employees say that their current job completely reflects how the position was described during the interview process. This leaves poor transparency that affects their perception of the company and creates prejudiced notions, which ultimately causes employees to quit early. Unclear communication and transparency issues were found to be one of the top causes of unwanted employee turnover. In fact, 43% of employees state that their day-to-day role wasn’t what they expected, 32% of first-year employees reason that the company culture was the main reason for quitting, and 34% report that bad experiences drove them away.

Most popular reasons for quitting

top reasons for quitting a job - infographic

Day-to-day role wasn’t what was expected                    Mismatch with company culture                       Overall bad experiences

Source: Jobvite. (2018). Job Seeker Nation Study.

3 Tips to create the best onboarding experience for your new hires

1) Set clear expectations

Role and company clarity is the key to success. Mitigate potential confusion and disappointment with clear descriptions of the role, goals, and objectives.

Also, inform the employee, as well as potential candidates, about other expectations resulting from the company culture. Leave no loopholes for potential contributing factors for bad onboarding experiences

2) Establish balanced onboarding programs

Effective onboarding programs incorporate three key factors for success that engages and empowers new hires from the beginning.


Establish and communicate the onboarding process before the new hire arrives for their first day.

Lessen some of the fear with first on-site details such as ‘’Where to park?’’, ‘’Who will they meet upon arrival?’’, ‘’What will the day-schedule look like?’’, ‘’What to prepare before arrival?’’, and more.

Additionally, provide administrative paperwork in advance, so that the new hire can focus solely on their role-related activities on their first day.

Further tips for pre-boarding activities include:
•   Provision of guidelines book;
•   Welcome email, which reminds the hire of what to bring and wear;
•   A faculty map;
•   Set-up of initial introductions.

pre-boarding process - concept

Onboarding day

This day should show new hires around so they start to feel comfortable in the space and with the people in it. Have HR personalize the onboarding experience and let management execute it.
Discuss the employee benefits that the new hire will be most interested in. Clarify and recommend relevant perks creates an employee that will appreciate the company’s effort more and potentially, stay longer.

Additional basic best practices include:
•   Have all equipment ready for pick-up, along with logins to all relevant tools;
•   Plan team introductions and implement a buddy system;
•   Schedule a few meetings. Pre-invite calendar meetings with added notes on the goal of the meeting and what their respective role in it.


Prolong the orientation to increase and extend the new employee’s chance of success.
Gather continuous employee feedback to ensure all employees feel motivated to stay with your company for the long haul. Further, set-up and schedule regular 3-week check-ins with the buddy or mentor with the new hire. Also, incorporate a 90-day review that includes feedback to (from the buddy or mentor) and from the new hire.

3) Create memorable experiences for new hires

Make your employee onboarding experiences unique. Set-up simple yet creative initiatives for onboarding.

Transform the standard initial welcome email to a welcome video, GIF, or a home-delivered care package which includes all necessities for their journey with your company.

From administrative papers, to printed informative booklets of guidelines, to energizing snacks to keep the new hire ready for their upcoming journey.

Additionally, make a checklist for your new hires or a personalized quiz to ‘’test’’ their current knowledge of the company and their role. Furthermore, utilize the use of varied communication methods to inform and check-in for more onboarding success.

4) Utilize your internal social network

Create relationships between everyone in the hiring process, from the recruiter to HR to the manager and to even other new employees. Provide organic opportunities as well for the new hire.

Onboarding helps new employees shift from being outsiders to insiders of an organization.

About half (49%) of employees believe the best way to get accustomed to a new job is by making friends in the workplace organically, as opposed to being paired with someone for orientation. This could include an opportunity to cross-board other internal hires to create a sense of comradery or chat groups focused on topics related to hobbies.

To conclude, onboarding is more than just a one-day orientation to familiarize a new employee with the company. A great onboarding process is crucial to help your new hires learn the ropes more quickly while establishing relationships that entice them to stay with you longer. Establish a cohesive onboarding program that ensures personal development and drives a steeper learning curve, ultimately ending with higher results regarding retention, productivity and engagement.

Questions, comments or suggestions about the process involving new hires? Contact us, comment below or email us at

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