The Power of Effective Onboarding to Drive Amazing Employee Retention Rates

This post is sponsored by BreatheHR. Employee friendly HR software designed to help tame your business. 

For Americans facing the opening strains of the twenty-first century, one thing is clear, we are going through a time of change and volatility. When you look past the obvious rancor of politics and focus in on things that affect everyday people the workplace is just as uncertain in many ways. Recent statistics show that nearly half of all employees are ready to leave their present company, if given a better opportunity by a competitor.

That’s why talent retention strategies, such as engaging in a strong initial, and ongoing onboarding process is so important right now. Remember, while fifty percent or more of your talent may be prepared to jump ship, if your competition is looking to poach from your team, they’ll be aiming at the ones you can least afford to lose. What can be done about it?

Redefine Onboarding: More Than New Employee Paperwork

Defining buzzwords can be tricky. Onboarding is typically taken to mean the process in place to welcome and install new employees into a company. It’s more than just orientation and new employee paperwork. It can include training, help with interpersonal networking, checking in at regular intervals to ensure a smooth transition and more. But what about the period beyond the first six months? And even more important, what about ‘internal onboarding’?

  • Only 15% of companies extend any sort of Onboarding program past the first six months
  • The six month point is where most employees make the critical decision to go or stay
  • Only 1 in 50 companies is still thinking about Onboarding past one year, the point at which most employees shift from “on the job training” to “continuing development”


Companies that do extend onboarding may be sending some important signals to their talent that they are not getting anywhere else. Onboarding in today’s workplace shouldn’t end when the ‘new’ wears off and an employee settles into their job. Engagement and other retention strategies are ongoing efforts. Companies have to invest in their employees if they want the employee to invest in the company. We need to think about employee onboarding programs both in person and virtual onboarding programs especially if you have remote employees.

By providing continued and ongoing support, beyond unlocking the doors and turning on the lights, employers can engage in a meaningful conversation about their talent’s future with the company. They can begin to set expectations for further down the road, but this conversation often gets overlooked in the absence of intentionally extended onboarding, designed to integrate new talent for the long haul.

An Employee is Never 100% Fully Onboarded… Ever

It is often assumed that at some point, HR’s job is finished. The employee has been successfully “onboarded” you might say. They’ve successfully engaged the new hire in company culture, helped them make connections and get the training they need and now they are a full fledged member of the family. Often, issues similar to those experienced by new hires arise for transfers or internal promotions. This is a great opportunity to develop internal onboarding. HR can provide the continued support and encouragement needed to keep your developed talent from leaving, through an intentional process centered around making internal transitions as smooth as possible.

  • Don’t assume that the connections and company culture stay the same from location to location, or even from position to position. Develop ways to ease the transition.
  • By letting employees know you are there to support their growth, you ease anxiety, which can be a cause for heading to ‘greener pastures’ even with employees who are moving up.
  • By maintaining an attitude of readiness to help and making it clear that you don’t expect them to handle every bump on their own, you gain their trust and confidence in the working relationship.


Make Onboarding synonymous with employee retention

It’s not rocket science, but it does take focused, intentional planning to implement a healthy onboarding program. The bottom line is that Happy and productive employees are more likely to stay, saving you dollars and time to develop new talent. By assuming that change is change, whether it’s their first day, or their twenty-fifth anniversary, and creating programs to help make those adjustments, effective onboarding can be the driving force behind amazing employee retention.

*A special thank you to this article’s sponsor, BreatheHR

 FTC Disclosure: I received compensation for mentioning the product listed above as part of one of the services I offer my clients. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Ian Boreham says

    Couldn’t agree more with regards to the criticality of getting the onboarding process right, but it’s not entirely clear what you are recommending when it comes to HR’s role in this extended process? Are you suggesting that for large companies HR should be ‘checking in’ with new hires even after 6 months after hire? This would be great but just not sure this is happening?

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Hi Ian,

      Yes, I believe that someone from HR should be checking in with new hires 6 months in. Maybe it’s inviting them to take a short online survey and setting up a quick 15 minute phone call to answer any questions they might have. These small checkins can make a huge difference in retention.

      Because the onboarding process is so varied, I think it needs to be customized to the company, location or division.



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