Steps to Better Employee Onboarding You Need to Know

Companies spend ridiculous sums of money recruiting, hiring and marketing to potential candidates, and I find that most organizations fall flat with onboarding. Onboarding is where your organization is lacking. It’s a critical time for your new employee. It’s also their most productive. The first six months of an employee’s time with your company is where they do their best work and are most likely engaged.

Onboarding is where new hires enjoy the honeymoon phase of your workplace. It’s also unfortunately, where they become quickly jaded and cynical realizing that your office is not exactly the picture you painted it to be.

Employee Onboarding is a Huge Employer Engagement Opportunity

When it comes to sales and marketing, there is little discussed about what happens after the purchase and buying decision. This is the home of onboarding. Onboarding is that in between and transitional place where prospects become customers and candidates to employees. It’s these transitional areas and handoffs where things get a little fuzzy, complicated and grey. Only 32% of companies have a formal onboarding process. This means that 68% of companies avoid onboarding altogether. Lack of onboarding, is the reason that most companies fail at onboarding. You can’t have what you don’t do.

Instead employees are left to making their own assumptions and using their own creative imaginations. Without access to resources, training and information they become angry and resentful becoming an internal cancer that could have been avoided with one word, onboarding.

Winning at onboarding isn’t rocket science. It starts with a common sense strategy. Onboarding…

Is more than a series of signed documents or training program. Like any relationship, two parties or persons feeling each other out and getting to know one another is challenging. Onboarding is a transition period for both the employer and the employee. Unfortunately, most employers treat onboarding as a process and a series of documents to sign instead of valuable time to get to know one another, explain expectations and learn about what’s important for the employee.

Is hard work and requires marriage/relationship counseling. As I mentioned, the first six months of a new employee’s life cycle is critical to the productivity success and the tenure of the employee. I’m not suggesting that you implementing workplace therapists for new hires and their managers, but scheduling twice monthly one on one’s are key.

Starts with honesty. I once took a job for the opportunity to work with someone who I thought I was a great manager combined with the learning and advancement opportunity, he painted the role to be. Two weeks into the job I realized that he was a micromanaging jerk who wasn’t honest with himself or me. Based on his behavior there was no way he was going to be retiring in 18 months let alone 5 years. I left within 10 months and 8 years later, he remains the head of HR for the company.

Where in your opinion do companies fall flat when it comes to onboarding? If companies would begin investing in onboarding programs, imagine the possibilities!

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Sayo says

    I have just recently concluded the ‘sign-on’ of new management trainees and in that process I have come to the conclusion that the process of onboarding starts even before there is any formal relationship between employers and prospective employees.

    The process starts with the genuineness of the brand ideals or core values of the company in question. Many companies fail to live up to the ideals they have set for themselves, it then becomes a sad situation for new employees to notice a disconnect between those ideals and what actually goes on within the workplace.

    There also has to be a high level of consistency in all the ‘engagement opportunities’ with prospective and new employees so that it helps build a formidable character for the company, leading on to trust. How brands/companies and their employees portray themselves in and to the public, should be carried through even within the company so that any perceived notions from an outsider’s perspective remains the same for anyone joining the company.

    There is the need for there to be a connection between the perceptions and realities, so that for the employee there is no delusion about the possibilities that exist in a new workplace. This would help strengthen the emotional commitment to a new workplace, thus leading on to better engaged and motivated employees.



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