Secret to Successful Employee Onboarding

5 min readApr 30, 2021

Onboarding is all about making sure that new teammates feel comfortable with their role, their team, and confident in their decision to work at your company.

Onboarding is the process of welcoming, educating, connecting, and acculturating new employees. Consider this, 91% of employees stay for at least a year when organizations have efficient onboarding processes. 69% of them stick around for at least three years where well-structured onboarding programs are employed.

Opting to improve the onboarding process gives new hires the incentive and motivation they need to succeed — and successful, happy employees are more likely to stick around. Satisfaction comes not from the money, but by giving employees the tools they need to integrate into an organization’s unique work culture. This ensures long-term engagement, since the direct outcome of good onboarding is improved job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success I Society for Human Resource Management

Building an effective onboarding strategy

Welcoming a new employee into a long-term positive relationship with their organization requires an effective onboarding process. The building blocks of successful onboarding are referred to as the Four C’s.

  • Compliance is the lowest level and includes communicating the basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations to employees.
  • Clarification refers to ensuring that employees understand their new role and all related expectations.
  • Culture is a broad category that includes providing employees with a sense of organizational norms, both formal and informal.
  • Connection refers to the vital interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must set up.

The degree to which each organization leverages these four building blocks decides the overall onboarding strategy. So which steps can ensure successful onboarding for both — the employee and the organization?

01 Creating the right process

Coming up with a detailed, and well-defined onboarding process plan ensures that the new employee receives every bit of information they need to succeed. This process also ensures that every new hire is treated the same way and that each new team member gets all the components they need to thrive at work.

Setting targeted timelines incorporate a variety of dynamic media content into the process. These can quickly and effectively teach corporate policies and culture, while make the onboarding process more engaging. This ensures that a new team member is properly welcomed and introduced, not only to their job but also to the company and its culture as a whole.

02 Giving insights into the organization’s culture

Beyond the formalities, whether it’s with company language or processes, employees need to be aware of the culture they’re getting into. Company culture is key to a team’s success, and a big part of that comes from transparency around mission and values. New tech hires should meet with senior leadership and learn about their team and the company’s core values. Sharing core values from the beginning clarifies the purpose behind what is being done every day.

Out of the employees who left the company within the first 6 months of their employment, 23% said that clear guidelines about their responsibilities would have changed their decision to leave the job. Hence, setting goals from the beginning is imperative.

03 Setting expectations & colleague relationships

It’s important that new hires understand performance expectations, key priorities for the next six to 12 months, and how they fit within the overall team. A new hire with overly high or unrealistic expectations can feel let down if the job responsibilities or opportunities turn out to be underwhelming. Making sure a new employee knows what they are signing up for, what to expect from the position, increases the chances of their success in the role as well.

Real trust stems from giving new hires space and time to foster healthy relationships with their coworkers and managers. The relationship and level of comfort an employee has with their manager or supervisor is a key factor in ensuring retention. According to researchers at MIT, the manager of a new hire plays an important part in that employee’s success. Develop and share a task calendar after onboarding sessions, define short and long-term goals, and schedule frequent check-ins to discuss upcoming projects, and progress.

04 Identifying areas for improvement through feedback

New hires are a valuable source of information. The organization plans the onboarding process, but employees are the ones who actually experience it. Tracking feedback and outcomes over time help in identifying the most successful onboarding techniques, and help identify the parts of the process that need to be revisited.

The importance of adjusting the onboarding program by improving and simplifying the process is for successful retention of employees. 73% of organizations say the biggest reason they’re revamping their onboarding is not only to get new hires up to speed more quickly but retain them as well. Treating onboarding like a dynamic, and changing process ensures that an organization can adapt and improve, and get the best possible results from these efforts.

Successful onboarding is today, one of the most significant contributors to any talent management strategy. The high cost of recruiting means that businesses must understand the effectiveness of integrating new hires into the organization for success. Simply writing down a formal plan does not help new employees succeed. Understanding who owns the onboarding process, and who decides the various steps involved in the process is vital to onboarding success and sustaining it over time. Engaging important stakeholders and new employees in interactions that help them understand each other will determine how they interact over time. Used in conjunction with HRM best practices, effective onboarding results in a faster learning curve for new hires, improved communication, and a more productive and engaged team.