Strong Employee Onboarding Isn't a "Nice to Have"-It's Critical

September 22, 2015

Strong Employee Onboarding Isn't a "Nice to Have"-It's Critical

Some numbers to consider as you read this article:


  • 4 percent of employees quit after a bad first day (Bersin by Deloitte)
  • 22 percent of turnover occurs in the first 45 days. (The Wynhurst Group)
  • 90 percent of employees decide to stay at a company within the first six months. (Aberdeen Group)
  • 31 percent of people have quit a job within the first six months, with half of those coming in the first 3 months. (BambooHR)


Employee onboarding is the company's first real impression of the new employee and their first real impression of the company. Hopefully, they've come in with a good impression of the company's brand via social media, recruiting events, and other online sources, but this is really where the rubber really meets the road.


The onboarding process sets the tone for the employee's relationship with their new company. If the process is disconnected and poorly organized, the employee starts to wonder how committed the company is to their well-being, much less their ongoing growth and nurturing. You've probably experienced a poor onboarding process yourself. How did the first few days feel? Lost? Unappreciated? Unprepared? You may have even thought "What have I gotten myself into?"


Also think about the impact of poor onboarding on the company. In addition to the morale boost (and the subsequent productivity boost) proper onboarding can reduce time wasted during the employee's first week by both the employee and their supervisor. IDC reported that employers lose $37 Billion each year because new employees don't understand their jobs (See: "$37 billion: Counting the Cost of Employee Misunderstanding"). Other reports indicate individual companies losing $10,000 a year to poor onboarding programs (or a lack of any program).


Needless to say, employee onboarding programs are critical to an organization's employee satisfaction and retention goals.

Examples of Onboarding Plans

Onboarding starts before the first day begins. Think about the things that have to happen before the employee walks in the door and how soon it needs to happen. Better to overthink while brainstorming and cut down the list later. How long does each event/request typically take? Back out the dates and provide padding. We'll explore some ideas later in this article to help kick-start your thinking.

Most people want their own manager to be the "face" of their onboarding process. In fact, all hiring managers should be trained fully in the onboarding process and be provided standardized onboarding plans. These plans can include everything from templates for objectives/expectations/job functions, etc. to how to behave with the employee during their integration into their new team. For instance, being present and available, facilitating team lunches and introductions, etc.


Some ideas for information to include in a plan:

  • Provide a quick reference guide for systems the employee will be using to supplement the full training on the system.
  • Handout maps of the workplace and key locations (copier, printer, cafeteria, departments, restrooms/door codes, etc.).
  • Detail key features of the phone system. Probably not surprisingly, most employees don't know how to transfer a call properly (just ask someone at random).
  • Assign a buddya peer to ask general questions.
  • Stay in regular contact during the first two weeksthis is when people are in doubt with their new choice and need to feel welcome/wanted.
  • Provide a welcome kit with company gear to help them identify with the company brand.

Automating Onboarding with Technology

Automating the request process for onboarding new employees is becoming more and more affordable and practical. Customized portals and workflows can be built to handle request/information intake (forms) and the subsequent routing of the information around the organization. The portal can be leveraged by the new employee's manager, the employee him/herself or HR, depending on what part of the process they handle.

Requests (hardware, network access, benefit forms, furniture, etc.) that are typically part of the onboarding process can then be initiated online, with IT, finance, facilities and other departments getting notifications and approvals in an automated fashion instead of relying on paperwork, phone calls and back and forth emails/instant messages.


In addition, providing new employees with an online portal gives them a centralized location to track the status of the process and keep up-to-date on when requests will be fulfilled. This type of request portal becomes their window into the company and promotes consistency and stability as they acclimate to their new company.


Potential Onboarding Processes to Automate


  • Position request form
  • Recruitment and application process
  • Internal referrals
  • Interview feedback and tracking
  • Offer tracking
  • Background checks
  • Security badge request
  • Business card ordering

During Hire

  • New hire information gathering
  • IT Setup form (hardware, software, network access)
  • Policy/mission review and acknowledgement


  • A survey of their onboarding process
  • Employee information change
  • Personnel action
  • Hardware and software requests
  • Leave requests
  • Expense and travel requests
  • Performance reviews and acknowledgment
  • Goals tracking
  • Peer and team recognition and awards

Tips When Automating Onboarding

  • Pre-fill forms with known information. Don't make employees re-type.
  • Don't overwhelm the new employee with too many questions on one form. Ask only for what they need to get up and running. Break up longer forms into multiple pages.
  • Keep your approval matrix updated.
  • Make internal Service Level Agreements known.
  • Keep contact lists up-to-date.
  • Use groups, rather than individuals whenever possible.
  • Plan ahead for integration into other applications/systems.
  • Remember the process is fluid. Continuously improve it based on performance.
  • Think in advance about privacy and security. What information needs to be available only to certain people?
  • Store social security numbers, passwords, driver's license numbers, etc. encrypted.
  • Use role-based security levels to ensure certain information is only available to the right people.


A final note to consider is at the other end of the onboarding process: offboarding. Do you currently have automation built into your process for offboarding employees? This is obviously even more critical in healthcare and financial organizations, as employees may have access to highly sensitive data. Triggering workflows and sign-offs that inform IT, finance, security, and other departments can swiftly, safely, and consistently manage the risk of terminated employees taking negative action.


Rather than handling offboarding via word of mouth or other haphazard methods, an automated offboarding system (whether electronic or not) can help mitigate risk and provide an audit trail should the need arise.


Copyright В© 2015 by Integrify. All rights reserved. Posted with permission.


The Authors: 

Mike Raia is the marketing director for Integrify, a Chicago-based workflow management software company that works with hundreds of HR organizations to create automated business workflows. He can be reached at