March 8, 2023

How A Great Onboarding Process Creates Long-Term Business Success

We’ve all heard of, or experienced, horror stories when it comes to a new employee starting a new job. In many cases, it’s not long before that new employee is looking for another company to go work for.

If you find your never-ending recruitment activities are filling up your time and making you feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, perhaps a rock-solid onboarding process will help you break the loop of hiring and re-hiring for the same roles over and over again.

It is also not a coincidence that companies who enjoy consistent product and service quality (i.e. Starbucks, Netflix, Zappos, Google, Salesforce, Pepsi, etc.) begin their new employee journey with an effective process known as onboarding.

But, do you need to be a large company to build a great onboarding process? Not at all. Any size organization will benefit from a structured and consistent onboarding process and Raman Chohan of Talentera Inc., a Human Resources and Leadership Search and Recruitment firm, has this to share on why it’s so important:

  • You’ve gone through a thorough process of searching, screening and selecting – which is time consuming we know – make the next step onboarding equally as important. It sets the stage for the employees life cycle within your company.
  • Starting a new role with a company can be overwhelming for some – a structured process makes them feel welcome as they start a new routine, in a new environment, with new people and new tasks to accomplish – make it high touch and welcoming.
  • Align the design of your onboarding process with your values and vision of the organization. Each value should be demonstrated within your design of the program and process.
  • You retain talent longer when they start engaged. A study by found that 22% of new hires will begin looking for a new job within the first 6 weeks and about a third of new employees will start looking for their next role within the first 6 months of starting a new job if they haven’t been onboarded effectively. Based on the stats above, we can all calculate the dollar value of each recruitment.  Let’s face it – we already know – recruitment is an expensive process ensure both you and the 
  • Better communication in the workplace 
  • Enhances productivity

Here are some shocking statistics from Process Street that will make you think twice about further delaying the great onboarding process that you’ve had on your to-do list for a while:

  • 88% of organizations don’t onboard well.
  • Great employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%.
  • A negative onboarding experience results in new hires being 2X more likely to look for other opportunities.

In another article I read on Business News Daily, it outlined how “poor onboarding is a major cause of employee turnover, which can cost a company 100-300% of the employee’s salary in total.”

Do you play football?

You’ve obviously heard of the sport and have a general idea about the game flow but you’re not that familiar with the roles or rules. Let’s say you’re asked to play the game (with the intent to win) but the coach assumes that, because you’ve obviously heard of the game of football, or because you’ve played a bit previously, he/she does not need to give you specifics on how to play to be successful on their team. On top of that, there are no individual performance statistics, so you’re in the dark when it comes to how you’re performing throughout the season.

Now let’s compare this to employment. You may or may not have had a job before but you’re generally aware of what it takes to hold a job and you have an idea of what actions could get you fired. But you don’t know your new company’s culture or values and the expectations may differ from manager to manager.

Bad news, Forrest. Your annual performance review is shaping up to look like a box of chocolates – “you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Unfortunately, this is the approach that many companies take when it comes to onboarding. Often, business leaders think that talent supply and recruitment is responsible for creating gold star employees when it’s actually the coach’s job.

Delaying the creation of a great onboarding process can be costly.

The results are poor employee performance, inconsistent quality in the delivery of a company’s product or service and added business continuity risk, not to mention turnover. According to Business News Daily, “poor onboarding is a major cause of employee turnover, which can cost a company 100-300% of the employee’s salary in total.”

A great onboarding process solves this. Yes, it will take you time and money to build but, like any good investment, it will continue to pay you dividends for years to come.

Orientation is not onboarding.

Orientation vs. onboarding is nicely summarized at

For new hires, orientation is a one-time event welcoming them to your company.

Onboarding is a series of events (including orientation) that helps them understand how to be successful in their day-to-day job and how their work contributes to the overall business.

We recommend a balance between a focus on culture and expectations and process and how-to actually get the job done. Inevitably, some companies may end up focusing too much on one or the other – spending all their time on orientation and expecting the job skills to develop naturally, or spending their focus on the how-to processes and not spending enough time on culture and performance expectations.

The full onboarding process includes orientation. The key differences are:

  1. Onboarding begins before the employee’s first day of employment.
  2. Orientation focuses on new hire paperwork, facility tours, personnel introductions, company policies, hours of operation, employee benefits, company values and performance expectations.
  3. Orientation generally lasts several days to one week.
  4. Onboarding begins before the employee’s first day and often extends months into their employment.
  5. Onboarding focuses on truly integrating an employee within an organization and will include a technical skills or tools.

Onboarding is the practice of introducing and establishing a foundation of success for an employee and occurs over a period of time (often lasting several weeks with timed follow-ups at 30, 60 and/or 90 days). Orientation is a stage within the onboarding process cover

Being an organizational leader myself for twenty years, I’ve observed, first-hand, what a poor onboarding process can create. It creates confusion, inconsistency and frustration for employees. It causes a delay in optimal performance for that employee and it inhibits their ability to succeed.

It went on to say that it takes eight months for an employee to reach their maximum productivity and that one-third of new employees are already searching for a new job before they even reach the 6-month mark of employment. The solution to shortening the time it takes to get a new employee to maximum productivity? A structured onboarding process.

And, an onboarding process is not an orientation process, although a good onboarding process may include proper orientation. An onboarding is not focused on, “here’s the washroom, here’s where you store your food and this is our big boss’ name.” A good onboarding process is focused on the training of how to do the job, what the intended outcomes are for the company and individual and team performance metrics. “This is how a top-performing employee does the job, these are the consistent quality outcomes and these are the measures of success.” SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE AND BEHAVIOURS.

I recall the waste that comes out of being part of an organization without a formal onboarding process and I’ve personally experienced it numerous times.

Each organization hopes you’ll “hit the ground running” and they are rooting for your success, however, there are very few tangible activities that they have taken to actually set you up for success. I didn’t know the processes or the objective performance expectations, I was left hoping I was learning from others who were high-performing in their own right and they were paying both my salary and other people’s (employees and contractors) salaries to help me learn the ropes.

Let’s think about the waste there for a moment:

  • paying my salary for training (that’s expected)
  • paying a peer’s salary to train me
  • losing the peer’s productivity while they train me
  • having no idea whether I am being trained to do something efficiently or not

In another example, I recall how our team was drowning in complaints by upper management about all the outages and our inability to prevent them or resolve them quickly. I would estimate that our average employee tenure prior to this year was 7 or 8 years. This particular year? I would estimate it was 6 to 12 months. Sure, that was probably part of our woes. But, more critically, why was our team making the same mistakes over and over again, causing extended outages?

A structured onboarding process can make a hugely impactful.

Tips to help you setup your onboarding program.

Raman Chohan of Metier, a Recruitment and Human Resources firm, has these tips to offer on setting up a proper onboarding program:

  • Keep it simple and aligned to your culture and values.
  • Start the first week easy with the essentials of what they need to know.
  • Assign a buddy to your new team member – this will be someone who can answer job and culture related questions.
  • Introduce them to work processes and resources for their role.
  • Set achievable performance goals for the first three months.
  • Be available to answer any questions.
  • Align them to office processes, work processes and special projects as they progress throughout the year.

Need more customized help in building the onboarding process of your dreams? Talentera Inc. and Process Primer will partner up to help you cover all bases. Contact us today!

Also be sure to check out HR On Board for a free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Employee Onboarding.

Have questions? Need more information? Leave a comment or contact us and we’ll be happy to respond!

Comprehend. Reimagine. Outperform.

Alwin Kwan
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Process Consultant

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