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Written By
KC Castillo

Good employee onboarding improves retention by 50%. What are its key ingredients?

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Table of Content

Table of Contents

A good employee onboarding program is a game-changer that can shape a new hire’s perception of a company. It sets the stage for them to forge deep connections with the organisation, enabling them to become motivated powerhouses eager to excel in their roles.

According to Harvard Business Review, companies that embrace a formal employee onboarding program witness a remarkable 50% increase in retention among new hires and a staggering 62% boost in productivity within the same group. In addition,

  • Employees who felt that their onboarding was highly effective were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed towards their organisation. 
  • A great onboarding experience ensures 69% of employees stick with a company for three years. 
  • 91% of those who received effective onboarding feel strong connectedness at work compared to only 29% of those with ineffective onboarding. 
  • Organisations with a structured onboarding saw a 60% year-over-year improvement in revenue.

Unfortunately, according to Gallup, a mere 12% of employees agree that their organisation has a good employee onboarding program. It seems like many onboarding experiences have overlooked the essential steps that can make all the difference.

1. Actively involve the manager and team members 

Transforming onboarding from a mere checklist item into an immersive and experience-driven process is essential. But here’s the secret sauce: the unsung hero of this process is none other than the manager.

According to Gallup research, the effectiveness of an onboarding program hinges on the manager’s active involvement, holding a whopping 70% sway over team engagement.

By being present, engaged, and readily available during onboarding, managers not only guide new hires through the company maze, but they also connect them with team members, demonstrate how everyone’s work aligns, and highlight the organisation’s needs.

This may look like:

  • Pairing fresh faces with experienced team members who can serve as mentors. This allows them to have someone to turn to as they navigate their new role and company culture.
  • Acknowledging the achievements and milestones of new team members. The simple act of giving them a shoutout in the company chat can boost their confidence and motivation. 
  • Encourage social interactions among team members both inside and outside of work. This can be done by organising team-building activities, lunches, or informal gatherings. 


Going beyond mere pleasantries, workplace relationships become companions on their new hires’ journeys. Who knows, they may even discover a work bestie along the way.

2. Reinvent the onboarding experience with technology and analytics 

One often overlooked opportunity for employers is using digital tools to streamline and elevate the overall onboarding process, freeing up valuable time and enabling a more strategic approach.

With a significant 2 in 5 organisations currently utilising dedicated onboarding technology solutions, and an additional 18% planning to adopt one within the next 12 months, an experience-driven onboarding is the future.

These could help with:

  • Automating workflows such as sending notifications and reminders, generating welcome emails, and assigning onboarding activities. This ensures a consistent employee onboarding experience across new hires.
  • Virtual onboarding portals where new hires can access important information, resources, and training materials. This centralises all necessary onboarding content, and is especially helpful for employees who hesitate to trouble others.
  • Analytics and reporting capabilities allow organisations to track onboarding metrics, measure the effectiveness of the onboarding process, and identify success factors and potential risks. 

For example, they may discover that frequent check-ins between managers and new employees, while time-consuming, are well worth the while. On the flipside, they may also uncover the perilous pitfall of overwhelming them with excessive information, leading to confusion and disengagement.

3. Explore a year-long employee onboarding program

The formal orientation program that wraps up in a week is just the tip of the iceberg. It actually takes months for new employees to unlock their full potential. Gallup, with their expertise in hiring analytics and consulting, reveals that it usually takes around 12 months for new hires to achieve peak performance in their roles. 

Sure, at the beginning, employees are all pumped up and raring to go. But after a few months, reality kicks in, and the important stuff such as their relationship with their manager, performance expectations, and team dynamics come to the forefront. According to Ben Peterson, CEO of BambooHR, it is advisable to conduct another check-in between three and six months, depending on the employee and the role. 

However, he highlights that unfortunately, only 15% of companies continue onboarding after the first six months. Nearly 90% of employees make the decision to stay or go within that initial six-month period, and the choice to stay is greatly influenced by how much the organisation demonstrates genuine care for its employees.

A year-long employee onboarding program gives employees plenty of chances to bond with their team members, soak up knowledge, and get used to their managers. In addition, managers can be equipped with helpful resources, such as conversation guides, to facilitate discussions on topics like mental health and provide constructive criticism.

4. Shine the spotlight on new employees

Remember, in the onboarding process, the real star is not the company or HR — it’s your new employee.

Go beyond just their job responsibilities and get to know the new hires. Seize the pre-boarding phase as a chance to understand their unique personality — their strengths, experiences, hobbies, and career aspirations. You can even ask them about what brings them joy at work and what conditions help them thrive and perform at their best.

Bringing the focus back to the manager’s role in onboarding, they can help new employees feel seen, valued, and connected to the rest of the organisation by:

  • Featuring new hires in company newsletters or company-wide meetings. Share their background, career journey, and interests outside of work. This not only helps others get to know them better but also recognizes them as individuals.
  • Highlighting notable achievements or experiences of the new hires. Utilise internal communication channels to give a glimpse of their potential contributions to the organisation.
  • Providing opportunities for new hires to collaborate with team members and other departments early on. This allows them to showcase their skills and establish themselves as valuable team members.

5. Incorporate company culture in experiential ways 

Of course, we can’t overlook the fact that onboarding is not just about company culture, but should also reflect it. Gallup defines company culture as “the way we do things around here,” and it goes beyond swag bags and employee handbooks.

While communicating the organisation’s mission, vision, and values is important, experiencing the culture firsthand is crucial. Here are some practical ways to allow employees to observe how culture plays out in day-to-day operations:

  • Culture ambassadors: Designate employees as culture ambassadors or mentors who can provide real-life examples, answer questions, and act as a point of contact for new hires to navigate cultural norms and expectations.
  • Open communication channels: Establish channels such as regular check-ins, town hall meetings, or digital platforms that encourage two-way dialogue for both new and existing employees. This fosters an environment of psychological safety where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves.
  • Shadowing and cross-training: Arrange opportunities for new hires to shadow experienced employees in different roles and departments. This allows them to observe firsthand how the company’s culture is put into practice during collaborations with colleagues or interactions with clients.

Remember, it’s not just about telling new hires about the company culture; it’s about providing them with the chance to experience it in action.

Support managers and new employees with Intellect 2.9

Probation can indeed be a stressful period for new employees, but let’s not forget that managers face their own challenges when it comes to balancing employee onboarding alongside their regular workload. While managers play a crucial role in this process, it’s important to be mindful of not overwhelming them with additional responsibilities.

To navigate these transitions, coaching can be a valuable resource. That’s why Intellect 2.0 now offers employees the opportunity to engage with an ICF-accredited coach, both virtually and in person, in their area. Our experienced coaches have successfully supported new employees in adapting to their new environment and thriving within it. Additionally, managers have also benefited from learning coaching techniques and ways to overcome imposter syndrome.

Learn more about Intellect for your organisation here

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A healthy company is a happy company

Employees need mental wellbeing support now more than ever. With Intellect, you can give them access to the Mental healthcare they need, when they need it.

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