We hope to inspire you...

Wednesday, 14 June 2017 11:06

4 Key Elements to Effective Onboarding

Onboarding - time to look at it from the new hire's perspective

86% of new hires say they decide whether to stay or go in their first three months.

Research also shows that a structured and comprehensive onboarding experience delivers a positive impression of the organization for the new starter and when speed to competence accelerates, hiring managers regard those hired favourably. With high regard comes praise and with praise comes confidence and a sense of belonging, perfect ingredients for a happy and successful new hire.

In this series of six blogs we will be sharing our experience of what contributes to an outstanding onboarding experience. Firstly, we look at what should be included and the value local leadership accountability plays in delivering a consistent experience for all your new colleagues.

Onboarding is multifaceted and can vary in duration depending on the organization, but in our experience all effective programs contain four crucial elements. These elements can be categorised as:

  • Enrolment administration: what is required for the new hire to be remunerated and operate in their new organization
  • Cultural orientation: getting to know how things work around here and the values of this organization
  • Creating a sense of belonging: helping new people feel valued and supported
  • Role effectiveness: ensuring those new to a role have the necessary skills, knowledge and tools to do the job

In our experience, most organizations provide all of these, but to varying degrees. How they are structured and provided has a profound impact on the new hire experience.

Our observations:

  1. Typically, the first two are delivered centrally with various functions playing a part in their delivery. It is not uncommon for groups to come together and receive presentations about the organization, its strategy and culture.

    The challenge here can be that the new hire experiences these items as a disjointed series of meetings and presentations with seemingly little engagement to check understanding or follow-up to discuss how projecting values relates to their role. As the new hire returns to their team there may be a conversation such as – how was the presentation? But little else.

  2. Regarding the second two items, this is typically passed to local leadership to complete, possibly with support from their L&D colleagues. The risk here is that for some new hires with leaders who prioritize their development, the experience is very positive. For those recruited into teams with a more frantic culture and multiple priorities competing for leaders’ time, their experience can be sub-optimal.

  3. All too often the formal aspects of onboarding are managed and tracked but the value from informal activities such as networking which contributes to cultural orientation, belonging and role effectiveness is left to chance.


It probably sounds obvious but adopting the perspective of a new hire and looking at the experience from their viewpoint can help identify disconnects and components at risk of not getting completed. Do you see a cohesive journey where all four elements are catered for appropriately? Or are there opportunities to improve the experience by clarifying accountability and providing specific tools or activities for certain components?

Defining accountability for all aspects of the process is crucial, and if you establish accountability for actions, verifying that these obligations are being met is imperative. Creating a mechanism whereby the completion of each onboarding component is tracked enables;

  • Champions to be identified and recognized
  • More accurate evaluation of the onboarding process; you can validate the impact of what is actually taking place, not what you hope is happening
  • Corrective actions can be identified i.e. local leaders may need support with feedback skills

Finally, we recommend ‘formalising the informal’ within the onboarding experience. There are several ways that this can be facilitated;

  • Providing activities which encourage new hires to network, particularly outside their immediate work group e.g. a ‘treasure hunt’ to find information from others or to identify actions by others that reflect the values of the organization.
  • Ensuring local leader accountability for follow-up conversations which evaluate and support their new hire in their networking endeavours.

This is an introduction to a topical discussion about operational onboarding so stay tuned for the series of blogs to come, wherein we will expand on each key element. 

If you would like to discuss your onboarding requirements and how our onboarding Web App can highlight accountabilities, track completion of all onboarding components and provide a cohesive onboarding journey for your new hires, please do get in touch.

Want to read the next blog of this series? Read it here.