Attract, Engage, and Retain: 5 Ways HR Can Improve the Employee Onboarding Experience

Women discussing attract engage and retain

Key points about employee onboarding:

  • A new generation of culture-focused workers is putting pressure on HR to transform the onboarding process.
  • Innovative onboarding is a way to engage and retain workers. 
  • Five ways to improve the onboarding experience for you and your employees.

The rules of work have changed. Employees once searched for a job to hold until retirement, but a new generation of workers is more than willing to move from one job to the next, hunting for the right fit. 

Consulting firm Korn Ferry found that 90% of executives surveyed experienced turnover rates of 10-25% within the first six months of hire. The majority of early exits were due to the company’s culture. 

“Especially for millennials, company culture is the key to job satisfaction and companies must ensure they are correctly portraying the culture during the recruiting and onboarding process.” – Tom Powell, Global Commercial Leader, Korn Ferry

Onboarding in the era of strategic HR allows Human Resources to have an impact on culture and on the bottom line. 

Of the core HR responsibilities, onboarding has the second-largest business impact (recruiting holds the top spot). According to the Boston Consulting Group, companies that effectively execute the onboarding process can expect to nearly double their profit growth compared to competitors with average onboarding. 

What would employees say about your onboarding process? Is it complicated and incomplete? Is onboarding at your company rooted in strategy or is it mired in the transactional? 

After a week of dry and uninspired videos, policy descriptions, forms, and sign-ups, new employees will most likely find your onboarding process stale and assume it reflects your culture. If this sounds like your company’s onboarding experience, it’s time to make a change. 

Here’s why you should transform your onboarding experience: 

  • Onboarding is an essential part of the new-hire experience and sets the tone for what’s to come.  
  • A robust onboarding experience can reduce employee turnover and increase worker engagement and productivity.  
  • Turnover rates are at an all-time high, with roughly 40% of employees leaving within their first year. It’s clear that something needs to change to avoid a premature departure. 
  • Research conducted by CareerBuilder shows that 36% of employers don’t have a structured onboarding process for new employees. 

“Onboarding is tremendously important. Even though we’ve made a lot of progress in terms of helping people get on board, I just see so many organizations that are still not doing a very good job of onboarding. I don’t think they fundamentally understand what good onboarding really requires. Virtually everyone will do the classic orientation stuff of here’s our beautiful company and here’s our lovely mission statement, and here’s our organizational chart and so on. What they typically miss is that the biggest reason people fail and underperform has to do with the culture and politics of an organization.” – Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days and Chairman of Genesis Advisers

Here are five ways to make your onboarding experience awesome: 

1. Give a proper orientation

Understanding the distinction between onboarding and orientation is the first step toward improving your new-hire’s experience. A great onboarding program begins when the offer is extended and ends once your new hire is a fully functioning team member. This means that the onboarding process could last for weeks, months, or in some cases a full year. Orientation, on the other hand, is a one-day experience that covers the nuts and bolts of office life (introductions, a facilities tour, etc.) and includes time to complete the necessary forms. Orientation is an opportunity to provide an overview of the history, mission, vision, and goals of the business and is also the time to introduce your company’s culture. Orientation should only account for a small piece of the overall onboarding process, not the entirety of it.

2. Be proactive in your approach to onboarding

Why wait for the first day to begin onboarding? To help eliminate stress (for both you and your new hire), begin the onboarding process before your employee’s start date. You can send an email with new-hire paperwork and provide helpful information like what to bring, appropriate attire, an onboarding checklist, and essential details that will help put them on the path to success. Or, you can simplify this process by providing new employees with access to an Employee Self-Service (ESS) site that enables them to complete forms and explore available resources in a self-directed environment. Being proactive in this pre-employment phase enables you to provide an excellent orientation experience before the first day.

3. Gamify the onboarding process

Don’t drain the energy of your newly-hired employee with lectures, videos, handbooks, manuals, and a pile of forms. Improve the process by turning elements of employee onboarding into a game or by making aspects of the program competitive. While you still want to keep work and culture the focus of your onboarding program, gamifying the process through interactive experiences makes onboarding engaging and memorable. Presenting information in this format ensures that your material is easy to comprehend and absorb.

4. Get post-onboarding feedback

A great way to improve the onboarding experience is to solicit input from employees who have recently gone through the process. Post-onboarding feedback provides valuable insights that will help you to refine and improve the onboarding experience for future hires. The best way to do this is through an anonymous survey sent to recently-hired employees. You’ll uncover the strengths and weaknesses of your approach to employee onboarding, gain helpful insights, and show fresh employees the value of their input.

5. Adopt a paperless onboarding process

A new employee’s first day is rarely about doing work. On day one, administrative tasks usually take priority over day-to-day duties. A thorough and engaging employee onboarding experience is essential to the success of your new hire, but filling out paperwork hardly hits the mark. Improve this experience by implementing an HRIS with paperless onboarding capabilities. Going paperless makes it easy to automate the administrative duties of employee onboarding and allows you to focus on creating an outstanding experience for each new hire.

Transform the onboarding experience for employees and watch them thrive. 

Creating an exceptional onboarding experience for newly hired employees is an essential step to establishing a healthy and productive relationship between your company and the individual. Better onboarding makes for engaged and productive employees that stick around. It’s that simple. 

Enhance the employee onboarding experience with an HRIS you and your employees will love. Register for a demo of the all-new SentricHR. 


The Sentric Team

The Sentric Team

At Sentric, we help businesses make people management easier with industry-leading technology and standout support.

Sentric HR & Payroll Insights

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