RTT – Inducting and Onboarding New Starters: Getting the Basics Right

On-boardingOnboarding is a complex and often poorly executed part of the employee engagement cycle. Whether it’s inducting an external hire or supporting an internal move, perfecting this process is crucial to establishing a positive employee relationship.  A common challenge associated with onboarding is maintaining control of a central process that’s consistent for all employees. 

These are the thoughts and takeaways from a Resourcing Think Tank held on Thursday 5th December, hosted by YouView’s Elouise Inzani. This Think Tank sought to discuss the topic of “Inducting and Onboarding New Starters: Getting the Basics Right” whilst covering:

  • Who’s responsible for taking ownership of the onboarding process and where should it start and finish?
  • What does best practice onboarding entail?
  • Which elements of the onboarding process are deemed most critical for strengthening the overall candidate experience?
  • How can we leverage technology to help drive efficiency and make the process more effective?


First and foremost, it’s important to discuss what the onboarding process is and isn’t. Typically, onboarding refers to the process of the offer, pre-boarding, induction, and the employee probation period. The end of the onboarding process is less clearly defined, yet usually is referred to as the end of the employee’s first week, or in other businesses, the successful completion of the probation period. With 69% of employees more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experience great onboarding, it’s now more important than ever for companies to maximise their employee onboarding endeavours.

Key topics to consider when pressing a business for onboarding budget:

  • How much does the business spend on a new hire, including hiring and training, over their tenure?
    • Who in the business is responsible for onboarding? On many occasions, 3rd party suppliers are responsible for building the initial relationship with the candidate – how is this transferred to the business during the recruitment process?
  • Are hiring managers taking more or less responsibility in different countries? Does this depend on levelling (graduate vs. experienced candidate)?
  • How developed is the onboarding process currently? Do companies that hire in high volumes have more developed onboarding procedures because of the frequency of hiring and the necessity for more slick processes?
  • Should a business look to outsourced providers for IT/tools set-up? Should the business outsource any other of their onboarding activities?

Best Practices for Candidate and Business Onboarding

Effective Employee Onboarding Should be a Top Business Priority

  • First, it’s important for a business to establish what onboarding looks like for their new hires, i.e. when does onboarding start and who is responsible?
    • Determine the hand-off point – what is the business picking up and when from HR / TA?
  • Does recruitment take responsibility for the hire up to the first day the employee joins the business, with the line manager and HR taking over from this point with regards to on-going management.
  • When does the Talent / L&D team take over? Typically it depends on the structure of HR (some have neither as specialist roles) and shared responsibility of the HR team.
  • What should line managers be responsible for with onboarding their new hires?
    • Should there be a mandatory course for managers? – L&D/HRBPs track and have touchpoints with them to make sure they’ve completed onboarding?
  • Since first impressions matter, it’s important for the business to provide orientation on the new hire’s first day.
  • There should be consistent induction programmes (certain days) to actively engage new hires from day one.
  • Scheduling internal meetings gives the perception that the business is organised and ready to work with the new hire.
    • The business needs to determine if this is reasonable for its existing employees. Perhaps induction meetings can be done only once a week or biweekly?
    • Objectives must be defined before internal stakeholders give up their time for the meetings.
    • On the other hand, should companies instead tell the employee who to meet, and the employee sorts out the meetings on their own?
  • Will junior hires need more structure than experienced hires? Do new grads have more time to digest new information than professional hires since they’re not occupied with their previous job?

Onboarding Best Practices for the Business

What expectations is the business setting during onboarding and how are they being followed-up?

  • Is onboarding part of the interview process from the candidate’s perspective? Again, the onboarding process must be defined by a business.
  • How is the business making the new hire feel welcome?
  • Is the business holding up their end of the bargain?
  • What pre-existing expectations does the new hire have from social media, employer review websites, and their peers?
  • What elements strengthen a candidate’s experience?
    • Get leadership to do inductions.
    • Impress the new hire with the value of engaging with senior leaders. From just a handshake or a personal chat to fully discussing business objectives, these small gestures make a difference.
  • Many times successful onboarding is based on basic human interaction and acceptance, i.e. encouraging hires to write their own introduction to the company helps them feel like they’re part of the organisation.
  • Early feedback is important for the business to understand the best practices to continue and those to quickly end.
    • In a survey about onboarding, 53 percent of respondents who quit their jobs within the first six months of employment said “review and feedback of early contributions” is one of the most important things a new employee needs to get up to speed and begin contributing quickly.

How Should Businesses Leverage Technology during Onboarding?

Technology has changed the onboarding game. With new hires expected to start performing quickly, it’s important to get new joiners accustomed to the company culture and ready to start making an impact right away. Below is a list of technologies that can help streamline the onboarding process:

  • For high-volume onboarding, chatbots can help to lighten the load for your thinly-stretched HR department. When a new employee is hired, the onboarding process tends to be repeatable and many questions from new staff members are predictable. The same applies to many parts of the training process for new employees. With chatbots, these questions are ready to be answered without having to involve HR.
    • Creating the answers to these common questions is a big effort initially, but the bot then learns to navigate internal systems.
  • Another option is to provide insider videos discussing company protocol and culture. This option can help provide answers to the unofficial questions, such as “things I wish I knew before I joined.”
  • There are also apps that send timed notifications post-offer to the new hire. This keeps the new hire engaged. This can become an onboarding and l&d tool.
  • Virtual reality tours of the office can be done for interested candidates to view the business’s work environment.
  • Red-carpet by Silkroad is a full-service onboarding software that describes itself as “software to accelerate, protect, and connect employees.” The programme engages new hires, provides a consistent brand experience, ensure employees are ready to start day one, and improves employee retention.

How to Measure the Success of the Onboarding Process and Important Topics to Consider

Hiring and onboarding new employees are important steps to grow any business. And, research shows that a company’s approach to these processes significantly impacts the average duration of employment. So how do you measure the success of onboarding? It’s important to first define and measure the costs associated with employee retention, employee turnover, and onboarding training.

  • What is the overall cost of a new hire?
  • What is the cost of a wrong hire?
  • How long does it take for a candidate to bring in business/revenue?
  • Seek feedback from new hires and run surveys across regions to determine what was and wasn’t successful during the onboarding process.
    • Open-ended feedback forms?
    • Use apps for anonymous employee feedback?
    • Perform expectation interviews on an employee’s first day and again when they’ve been in the business for six months (hiring manager and candidate). This feeds into current trend of continual assessment vs. yearly reviews.
  • It’s important to measure the time-to-efficiency key metric.
  • Retention stats can be a stark influencer to managers.
  • Review onboarding results/success/changes in revenue, including performance ratings for y1, y2, y3. It takes time to build the data and then link that data back to function/manager/source of hire to understand what works/doesn’t.
  • Start a focus group to review usage of tech (stats/downloads etc).
  • Create a line manager survey (difference TY vs LY).
  • Review if there is a link between onboarding training and lessened employee attrition.

Key Takeaways

At the end of the day, new hires want to learn how to do their job correctly within the organisation and to understand the inner workings of their new company. It’s important to create and adhere to an onboarding process that trains the new hire and gets him/her contributing to the company as quickly as possible.

Some takeaways to help the onboarding process run smoothly, include:

  • Clearly define what onboarding means for the company across all business units. Does the strategy/process match the existing or desired culture of the business?
  • Set expectations and get line managers involved in onboarding training. It’s important to have weekly and monthly onboarding plans outlined to set expectations. It’s also important to note that international employees should be onboarded as well as business culture may differ by country.
  • Building upon the first point, it’s important to develop clear and consistent onboarding processes regardless of the business unit to help each new hire understand the company basics.
  • Successful onboarding conveys the company culture, retention, and expected future business performance.
  • Although technology can help with onboarding, ultimately human elements prevail.
  • Onboarding is a top-down ownership question rather than bottom-up – it’s important to find a champion in the business/HR team!
  • Demonstrate through metrics and analysis how onboarding is important for a business’s success. Businesses should evaluate the cost of successful onboarding vs. cost of losing new hires. It’s a small investment to keep employees satisfied.


Luke Simpson

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Luke Joined Oasis HR in early 2014 having recently graduated from the University of York where he studied English Literature. Before joining Oasis he briefly worked in retail ('just to pay the bills' he maintains, but his wardrobe would suggest otherwise). He has an encyclopedic knowledge of football and a passion for literature and science fiction films.

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