By Dobbie Newman and Steve Graham

Here are some additional statistics that are based on recent US surveys:

  • A solid onboarding experience is tied to  greater new hire retention
  • 30% of new hires will leave within the first 90 days
  • 49% of Millennials want better onboarding

If you are actively hiring, then you are very likely feeling the pain that these statistics suggest. Why is this happening? And more importantly, what can you do about it?

Why has onboarding become such an important activity to get right in today’s business environment?

The U.S. labor market has become alarmingly competitive. It is a seller’s market.
  • Job openings are higher than available applicants. According the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 7 million job openings in September 2018 and only 5.7 million people were hired that same month. These statistics are generally reflective of monthly data throughout 2018.
  • The US labor Bureau data also illustrates that voluntary quits are at an all-time high, averaging over 3 million per month in 2018. In other words, if people are unhappy, they simply quit, because another job is waiting.
Today’s employees are different.
  • Values have shifted from the baby boom era of hard work will be rewarded and long-term company loyalty at all costs. “Work hard to earn rewards” is now, “Show me the rewards and I’ll decide if it’s worth the effort.” The mindset of “loyalty to the company matters more than my needs” is now “my needs matter more than the company’s”.
  • Clarity around personal development, communication, and career advancement /promotions are top of mind for today’s job applicants.
  • Employees want tools to help them advance their careers. They want their employer to show interest in their future.
  • Employees have more information at their fingertips – social media and the internet have made them much smarter about your business environment. They can quickly learn what past employees have shared about their experiences working for you.

A common mistake that some companies make is to focus the onboarding process on what the company needs – getting the new employee to become productive, as quickly as possible. The real key to successful onboarding is to focus on what the employee needs.

Multiple Levels to Consider:

There are essentially three levels of information new hires need that begin (like Maslow’s hierarchy, people need food before enlightenment) with the basic knowledge to feel secure and comfortable and rising to the more complex strategy issues. Many employers will share information from all three levels below on day one. While this is effective for the employer, the employee may not be able to truly take in Level 3 and some Level 2 type information until they have successfully taken in the information that they need from Level 1. Make them comfortable first.

Level 1

As a new employee, what impacts me personally to feel secure?


1.   Where do I park? How should I dress? Where can I store my stuff?

2.   Where is my workspace? Was I expected? Do I get a name tag, a uniform?

3.   What are my work hours? How should I answer the phone?

Level 2

As a new employee, what impacts me as a member of my department?


1.   How will I spend my time at work? What kind of work will I do?

2.   Who will I interact with? How will my efforts be measured?

3.   Who is my supervisor? How do I communicate with others?

Level 3

As a new employee, how does my role impact the company goals?


1.   What are the mission, vision, and company values?

2.   What are the strategic plan details and my role to help achieve them?

3.   How can I best prioritize my daily activities to further company goals?

We recommend each employee’s onboarding plans account for the new hire’s behavioral style and primary Driving Forces or motivators, which can be learned from a TTI Talent Insights® assessment. Also, if competencies are assessed, a personal development and training plan can be tailored to support the skill areas the employee requires for success in the role.

We recommend that you develop a 90 day onboarding plan for new hires. This plan should have components that are standardized for all hires and personalized based on that specific individual’s profile, needs, and the role.


Your plan should include the following elements:

1. Make them feel welcome Assign a Buddy or Mentor for each new hire. Peer relationships are important. Employees who feel connected to the people that they work with are more likely to succeed and stay. Consider how to make them feel especially welcome on their first day – have someone take for them lunch, have a team welcome session, perhaps a group treat, a special gift or a personal note from their manager or someone more senior in the business.

2. Gather/create checklists and required support materials Include any legal paperwork to be completed, benefits package (if appropriate), clear understanding of their duties and goals, tools they need to be effective, including systems, learning and performance expectations over what time periods. Some companies are now having their new hires complete some of this paperwork before thy arrive on their first day.

3. Provide a thoughtfully constructed training program that shows you have considered the employee’s unique abilities and needs provide a training agenda, and involve the employee when setting clear and realistic (SMART) goals for job performance. Review the employee’s talent assessment results with them personally to open up dialogue and demonstrate that you are invested in their success, discuss and ultimately design a personal development plan, clarify how they can measure success and know when it is achieved.

4. Schedule both regular and informal check-ins communication is key and should be two-way in direction. Ask for feedback on what is working and what is not working. Be ready to change or amend the onboarding plan based on employee feedback. Celebrate wins and small but meaningful accomplishments, provide supportive and constructive feedback on areas for improvement, show your appreciation for job well done, goals achieved, effort and attitude, ask them for input on what can be improved. Let them know that you value their input, that you recognize their experience and perspective can be an asset to improve your business practices.

It is worth noting that according to SilkRoad Research, employers may want to consider a 12-month program for knowledge-based jobs, to help them through one full calendar business cycle.

Employers are now working very hard to attract and engage the type of talent they want for their business. While hiring the wrong employee is very costly, losing the right employee can be even more expensive.  It is more important now than ever to put effective onboarding at the top of a business’ priority list. Those who can do this effectively can reap the benefits from fostering a positive and winning culture (see our infographic on building community), will build a team of raving fans, and if executed well will have people waiting in line for the next job opening under any market conditions.








TINYpulse study, Bentley University, Waltham, MA

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor, Job Openings and Labor Turnover – 2018

The Wall Street Journal. Dec 4th, 2018 Why Perks No Longer Cut It for Workers, Sue Shellenberger.

The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey (2018 Job Seeker Nation Study )