Why Onboarding Is Crucial for Employee Engagement

Author: Angela Campiere       

How your company onboards you will likely have a big impact on how long you stay. (Photo Credit Adobe Stock)

Starting a new job is exciting (and sometimes slightly terrifying). As the newest member of an organization, you are usually eager to hit the ground running in your new role, hoping to contribute to the team and make a good impression right off the bat. But is your new employer ready for you?

How your company welcomes and integrates — or onboards — you will likely have a big impact on how long you stay. A recent study by HR tech company Hibob found that 64 percent of new employees are less likely to remain at a job after a negative onboarding experience.

That sentiment was also evident in a 2018 Gallup study in which only 12 percent of employees said they strongly agreed that their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees. Additionally, research conducted by Kronos and Human Capital Institute found that 76 percent of respondents’ workplaces are not effectively onboarding new hires.

The result of these missing or minimal onboarding programs? A lack of employee engagement.

Employers report that the absence of an effective onboarding process leads to lower productivity, higher employee turnover, and lower employee engagement, Chris Lennon, former vice president of product management at BirdDogHR, told SHRM.org.

So what do employees want from the onboarding process? Ronni Zehavi, Hibob co-founder and CEO, has a few ideas based on the research, which was conducted online in May among 1,000 employees in the United States, age 18 and up. He says:

  1. Employees want an accurate job description. According to the Hibob survey, 25 percent of employees said they didn’t receive enough information about their job before accepting the offer, while 40 percent said their current job actually matched what they were told during the hiring process.
  2. New hires want to make friends the old-fashioned way. Nearly half of employees said that they think the best way to get acclimated to a new role is make friends in the workplace and they want to make those friends organically rather than being assigned a “work buddy.”
  3. A group setting is always better. Thirty-one percent of employees reported that they feel most welcome in a group setting and would rather be part of an introductory meeting or interactive onboarding group with other new hires instead of a happy hour.

Employees are making judgments about their new role, team, and company as soon as they walk in the door. “New hires,”  Zehavi says, “just want transparency and [they] value the human side of the onboarding process, where they can be set up for success.”