The Good, The Bad, and The Costly – Why Effective Onboarding is Crucial

Ever feel like too many of your employees are leaving their job within the first few months of being hired? It’s not your imagination, according to a recent study, 31% of employees leave during the first six months, with the highest rates of attrition happening in the first 90 days. What could be causing so many people to leave? Much of this early turnover has to do with the company’s onboarding process (or lack thereof). 


Why Good Onboarding Matters 

Onboarding is one of the first interactions a new hire has with the company and their peers. The onboarding process quickly determines how new employees will perceive the company both in the short term and long term.   During the first few months, employees start to get a sense of their role and what it is like to be a part of the organization. When done correctly, the onboarding process should provide the knowledge and tools to set the individual up for success. It should be a positive and streamlined experience for everyone involved. Not only does onboarding help employees feel welcome, but it also has a hand in increasing KPI’s. Glassdoor notes that a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82% and productivity by 70%. Another study found that 77% of employees who went through a formal onboarding process were able to meet their first performance goals.  


The Cost of a Poor Onboarding Experience 

If the data suggests that good onboarding leads to positive outcomes, why are so many companies still facing high rates of early turnover? It comes down to the use and effectiveness of their onboarding. According to SHRM, more than one-third of businesses lack a formal onboarding process. Similarly,  Gallup found that only 12% of employees felt that their company did a good job with onboarding. When onboarding is neglected, turnover soars. 22% of employees reported they would look for another job if they did not receive good training, and another 41% of people admitted they might look for a job elsewhere if they were unhappy with the company’s onboarding processes.  


Managing this early turnover is crucial, especially because losing employees is costly. Our 2022 Engagement Trend Report found that replacing an employee costs two times (2x) their salary, costing between $25,000 to $100,000 depending on their position. On top of the cost of replacing an employee, 45% of HR leaders estimate that over $10,000 a year is wasted on ineffective onboarding procedures. Based on these numbers, it is clear that poor onboarding has a negative impact on both retention and the company’s bottom line. It is imperative to implement a formal onboarding process if you haven’t already and evaluate the effectiveness of that program often.  

Ways to Improve the Onboarding Process 

How can you make sure your onboarding is up to par? The first step is to do your research and adapt if needed. Employees are constantly changing, and so are their needs and expectations. A strong onboarding process established five years ago may not be relevant to the employees of today. A recent article from LinkedIn outlines some of the top factors new hires are looking for from onboarding: 

  1. 1-on-1 time with direct manager – new employees want time to get to know their manager and build a relationship with them from the start. Schedule plenty of check-ins in the first few months so that employees can start trusting and feeling comfortable with their manager. 
  1. Company culture and values – culture is the core of any workplace so let it shine during onboarding. New hires want to be included in that culture quickly and have a solid knowledge of the company’s history and values. 
  1. Clear expectations and agenda – outlining what is expected from both the new hire and the organization paint a clear picture for everyone. Let them know what the upcoming weeks will look like so they can prepare for success. 
  1. Time to meet the team – joining a new company can feel a bit intimidating. Set time aside for new hires to meet their peers and get familiar with everyone. This will help them feel welcome and get a sense of community from the start. 
  1. Opportunity to share feedback – give new hires a chance to share their thoughts and opinions as much as possible. It lets them know that their voice is heard and appreciated in the workplace. 

It is important to take a look at your onboarding process often and make sure it is still effective. A great way to evaluate your efforts is by asking your new hires for their feedback. They will likely have thoughts on the process as a whole and can provide insights into what could be updated. The easiest way to capture this feedback is by giving them a new hire onboarding survey.  


What are New Hire Onboarding Surveys 

New hire onboarding surveys are a way to learn more about how your employee is feeling in their new role and provide feedback on your onboarding process. Surveys are a simple and easy way to give your employees a voice and collect candid information. The feedback they share is usually more detailed and honest than if you asked them in a check-in meeting or through email. They can tell you what parts of the onboarding process work well, and which could be improved for future use. Asking your employees for feedback early on also allows you to get insights into their first impressions of the workplace. This gives them an outlet to raise questions or voice any early concerns that can be addressed right away. The main goal of onboarding surveys is to give your new employee a voice from the very beginning and help create a successful onboarding experience.  


Tips for Getting Started with Onboarding Surveys 

When implementing an employee onboarding survey, you need to focus on a few key items.  

  1. Ensure the data is actionable – You can do this by asking questions about specific parts of the process so you can pinpoint exactly which areas need improvement.  
  1. Timing is everything – Feedback is timely so deploying surveys at the right time is important for useful data. If you wait too long to collect feedback, you can lose out on valuable insights and delay addressing any early concerns. Automating the process or integrating it into their onboarding checklist can help ensure surveys are always done at the right time.  

Pro Tip: We’ve found that it is most effective to deploy at least two check-in surveys during the first 45 days. For a more detailed survey schedule, download our Onboarding Survey Best Practices guide.  

  1. Make sure employees feel comfortable giving feedback – This is necessary for all types of feedback, not just for onboarding surveys. Creating a safe and comfortable environment for your employees to voice their opinion is the goal.  


Your company onboarding process plays a larger role in turnover than you may have originally thought. Having an effective onboarding plan that is evaluated frequently will set your employees up for success from the start. Implementing new hire onboarding surveys can help find what employees at your organization really thought about their onboarding and are a simple way to collect feedback. By taking a proactive approach you can get ahead of early turnover, boost productivity, and lower costs.  

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