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5 Effective New Hire Onboarding Strategies

Only 12 percent of employees strongly agree that their organization does a good job onboarding new employees, despite almost all companies having an onboarding program. The majority of employees (88 percent) have had poor onboarding experiences. 

The result? You’re losing talent before they even start. 

A good onboarding process equals a good ROI. A replacement employee will cost an organization 6 to 9 months of an employee’s salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Among employees who successfully transition into a new role, 69 percent are retained for a minimum of three years. 

Discover five onboarding strategies that produce the best results for your organization. 

What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding refers to the process of giving employees the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to do exceptional work. Having a well-planned onboarding process helps new employees integrate into the organization and feel comfortable during their early days. 

Employees with poor onboarding experience lower confidence in their roles and lower levels of engagement. They are also more likely to leave their current jobs when they see another, more exciting opportunity. Companies with good onboarding, on the other hand, could see 50 percent greater employee retention among new recruits and 62 percent greater productivity within the same group. 

Human resource professionals need to adapt by using tools to help them with employee onboarding in the fully remote work world, where manual onboarding is physically impossible. In addition to improving retention rates, effective onboarding demonstrates your commitment to hiring candidates in the first place.

5 employee onboarding strategies

A 2020 survey by Workable found that HR professionals reported remote onboarding and training as the biggest hiring challenge during the pandemic. If you’ve struggled to create the ideal process, use the following onboarding strategies to create a better experience for new hires.

  1. Set goals
  2. Design social learning experiences
  3. Show off your company’s learning culture
  4. Make it easy to find answers to questions
  5. Lean into onboarding analytics

1. Set goals 

Defining goals and expectations from the beginning is essential. Some 20 percent of employees leave their jobs because of a lack of career development and training. Another study revealed that 78 percent of employees say a clear career path would keep them with a company for longer. 

Understand your new employee’s motivations and ambitions. This way, you can create a plan that addresses their aspirations and helps them succeed. Write out a list of regular tasks, goals, and KPIs for the first year. Then provide information about how they can grow in their position. 

Employees who strongly agree they can apply their strengths every day at work are 3.5x more likely to strongly agree their onboarding process was exceptional.

If you have another employee who’s been promoted from the new hire’s role, schedule a meet and greet between them. That person can share their experience and tips to help your new hire start their new role with excitement. 

New employees take 12 months to reach peak performance, according to Gallup. Most onboarding programs last 90 days. Set up an onboarding program that extends from 90 to 365 days that offers continuous learning opportunities and solidifies new skills. 

Don’t forget about regular check-ins with new hires. One study found that 10 percent of HR professionals weren’t even sure how new hires were adapting. Your learning management system (LMS) should be the pulse that allows you to check in to see how new hires feel and find out what support and resources they need to work efficiently. 

Learn more: 6 Best Practices for New Employee Training and Onboarding

2. Design social learning experiences

A 2021 survey from Principles found that 94 percent of HR professionals who responded said people they’d hired during the pandemic have only interacted within the company virtually, and of those respondents, 31 percent said employees were struggling to connect with colleagues.

Social learning opportunities foster a sense of belonging for new hires and help them develop deeper relationships. Community learning opportunities can take many forms, such as:

  • Having new hires discuss onboarding material and learnings through chat apps like Slack 
  • Connecting new hires with mentors and coaches they can learn from
  • Creating collaborative training activities during onboarding 

Social learning builds trust and respect between employees. It also encourages people to perform their best and feel their onboarding process was effective.

When employees strongly agree they have partners they can always rely on at work, they are 1.9x more likely to strongly agree their onboarding process was exceptional. 

3. Show off your company’s learning culture 

Onboarding is the first chance you have to show off your company culture. Show your new hires you’re invested in their growth and success from the start. 

A learning culture refers to when an organization prioritizes learning and development. Education and career development are important to the company, which helps employees achieve their professional and personal goals. 

When it comes to onboarding, promoting a learning culture can excite new hires and improve retention. Data shows that new employees who don’t believe they can achieve their career goals are 30x more likely to leave. 

Using well-designed and effective onboarding methods, such as courses in your LMS, workshops, and mentoring, new hires will acquire the habit of learning from the start. They will continue to learn if given the chance.

Learn more: 5 Strategies to Create a Learning Culture

4. Make it easy to find answers to questions

Imagine you’re a new hire at your dream company. You’ve been on board for six weeks and you’re excited and ready to thrive in your new role. Maybe you have a question about employee benefits or holiday schedules, where do you go? An internal knowledge base can help new hires find the answers and resources they need. 

Common information stored in an internal knowledge base includes:

  • Basic company information: location, announcements, safety policies, etc. 
  • Onboarding and training docs: new hire policies, protocols, and training materials 
  • Personnel directory: corporate hierarchy and contract details
  • Tech help: IT troubleshooting, software setup, and security protocols 
  • Department information: team, structure, goals, and processes 
  • Employee benefits and compensation: paystubs, medical insurance coverage, PTO policies, and more 

Rather than reach out to colleagues with every question or dig through endless documents, make it easy for new hires to find answers to their questions. Just like a customer knowledge base helps clients find their solutions and reduces customer support calls, an employee knowledge base works the same way. 

The benefits of an internal knowledge base include:

  • Faster onboarding
  • Shorter wait time for answers
  • Less new hire frustration 
  • Lower HR workload
  • More standardized and accurate information

You can create an internal knowledge base through your LMS. Think of it as a digital library with all the information a new hire could need: documentation, HR info, templates, tools, FAQs, and more. 

5. Lean into onboarding analytics

Making fact-based decisions is the only way to improve your onboarding experience. New employees typically take one year to reach full performance, so you should have insight into what works along the way. An analysis of onboarding data helps you build a successful program over the long term.

Gallup found three best practices to use analytics in your onboarding process:

  • Use a Quality-of-Hire (QoH) metric. A QoH metric measures the value new hires bring to your organization. It includes metrics related to performance, manager surveys, and turnover rates. With a QoH, you can find out how new hires perform as a cohort and in comparison to one another. 
  • Send pulse surveys. Surveys are an excellent way to determine what is working (and what isn’t) in your onboarding process. They inform managers about new hires’ feelings, the support they need, and how onboarding affects the entire group. 
  • Collect multiple sources of data. Monitor onboarding through various sources of information, including voice of manager, ramp-up time, and QoH metrics. These data sources help you understand success and risk factors that impact onboarding and make better decisions for improving it. 

New hire onboarding strategies that work 

A good onboarding experience lays the foundation for an employee’s life cycle. According to SHRM, standard onboarding processes increase new hire productivity by 50 percent. Additionally, employees who have an exceptional onboarding experience are 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace. 

Your onboarding program provides employees with the opportunity to observe team members, learn about systems and processes, and gain experience. If you work on creating a journey that helps new hires understand their role, build connections, and grow in their career, you’re well on your way to better quality hires and increased productivity. 

Learn more about how WorkRamp can help you create an effective onboarding program. Contact us to schedule a free demo.


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Michael Keenan

WorkRamp Contributor

Michael is a SaaS marketer living in Guadalajara, Mexico. Through storytelling and data-driven content, his focus is providing valuable insight and advice on issues that prospects and customers care most about. He’s inspired by learning people’s stories, climbing mountains, and traveling with his partner and Xoloitzcuintles.

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