Seven Massive Improvements to Onboarding New Hires

The effectiveness of your onboarding program will go a long way towards getting a faster ROI on the investment to hire someone, making your new hire more productive, and much more likely to stick around with you for the long term.

One of my first assignments with our consulting practice was to conduct exit interviews with almost 150 former employees of a company that was experiencing an unhealthy level of employee turnover.  These were employees who had voluntarily resigned three to six months earlier.  For the most part, I found people quite willing to talk to me and I was amazed at what they told me.

Statistically speaking, 78.2% of the folks I spoke to told me about an unsatisfactory incident that occurred during their first few weeks on the job that stuck with them during their entire tenure like a persistent rash.  One woman told me that when she showed up for her first day, her boss was on vacation for the week and nobody knew she was starting.  Another person said that when he arrived at his cubicle, there was no phone, computer, chair or supplies…just an empty working surface. He had to sit on a trash can until a chair could be found.  My favorite story was a young woman who told me that after spending a half day with HR in ‘orientation,’ she was given a list of customers to go visit…without even knowing what the company sold.  

While none of the incidents recited was given as the sole cause of the staff member leaving, the incident was seen as a contributing factor for why they left.

What Exactly is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of bringing a new hire “on board” and providing the training and environment necessary for them to reach full productivity.  This process typically takes anywhere from 60 to 180 days to complete before the employee is able to produce to expectations with minimal direction. Properly onboarding a new employee dramatically improves the new hire’s productivity, loyalty, and satisfaction with their employment.

My experience over the past 23 years is that properly onboarding a new hire will reduce the time it takes to get the new hire up to normal productivity by 30-35%.  This translates to greater productivity levels and employees who produce well tend to be happier and more engaged.

It also means that you’ll discover much more quickly in the event the new hire is not a good fit with the job or employer.

Massive Improvements for Your Employer’s Onboarding

Here are seven things that can dramatically improve the onboarding process:        

  1. A Written Onboarding Plan for Each New Hire. Tailored for each position, it should include a daily schedule of meetings, people to meet, training, mentors, objectives, assignments, etc. for the new hire’s onboarding period.  Consider building a standard template so as to easily replicate for each new position or hire.  While this may seem like a lot of work, there is no better way to assure the new hire receives all the training and onboarding support they need during this critical time period.  Provide a copy of the onboarding plan to new hires so they can measure their daily progress and see the organization’s commitment to their success.
  2. Establish 2-Way Feedback Early and Often. As part of the onboarding plan, establish frequent touch-point meetings to both receive and provide feedback to the new hire.  These meetings should be daily at first, then tapering off to a few per week, and finally to one every other week.  Make sure these touch-point meetings are scheduled on the written onboarding plan.  Three great questions to ask during these meetings are:
    1. What were the most important things you learned today?
    2. What has gone well for you today?
    3. What did not go as well as you would have liked?

    Based on the responses to the questions, tweak the onboarding plan.

  3. Catch Them Doing Things Right. There is no faster way to build self confidence and competence than by catching people doing things right.  No feedback begs the question, “Does anybody really care about me or what I’m doing?”  Negative feedback makes people feel as if you are waiting to smack them for making mistakes. Catching them doing things right lets them know you care and that results matter.
  4. Keep Illustrating the Big Picture. If you want self-directed staff members, you need to always point out the reason why the assignment, task, learning, project, achievement, etc. is important.  How does it impact the organization? How does it serve the ultimate customers? What happens if the company fails in this area?  By better understanding the importance of even the most mundane tasks, most people will strive for excellence in what they do.
  5. Schedule Alignment Activities. Alignment activities build a sense of teamwork and camaraderie, and help to align the individual with the overall culture of the organization. Integrate different groups within the organization to encourage the blurring of departmental boundaries. During such sessions, informal communication is facilitated and this tends to level the potential silos in the organization. 
  6. Onboard with Assessments. One of the very best investments in a new hire is to have him or her complete one or more diagnostic assessments.  My go-to in assessments for onboarding is the TriMetrix EQ assessment which will provide specific guidance for how to accelerate your new hire’s onboarding.  The guidance allows the trainer to use the approaches that are optimized to the learner. My experience is that this assessment cuts one-third of the time it takes to get the new hire up to full speed, which provides and exceptional ROI. 
  7. Sync Your “Training Period” to the Onboarding Period. Most employers use a training period as a time during which a new hire is carefully observed and evaluated to determine if he or she is deemed a good fit for the job and employer.  While most states are at-will employers (meaning that either employer or employer may end an employment relationship at will), it is a best practice for an employer’s handbook to clearly state that the Training Period is not a guarantee of employment but rather a time of onboarding a new hire.


Bottom line

If you want to recover your costs of recruitment and hiring, enable new hires to become more productive, and build a loyal workforce, take the steps to properly onboard your employees.


This article is based on principles taught in Boyer Management Group’s acclaimed management and leadership development series, Leading Through People™ Module 5, Staffing, Recruitment & Onboarding.

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

  • Improving your (or your team’s) management and leadership skills: Leading Through People™. This acclaimed program equips participants in thousands of current and emerging best practices of leadership, hiring, and talent development.
  • Raising your (or your team’s) selling and sales management effectiveness: B2B Sales Essentials™ (among the 30-plus courses we offer are ones on selling with emotional intelligence and storyselling!)
  • Conducting a more effective job search: Get a Better Job Faster™

I help leaders and aspiring leaders improve their performance and acumen, and sales and marketing professionals to become more productive and effective. I also work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. We develop sales teams with our highly regarded B2B Sales Essentials™ and B2C Sales Essentials™ tailored sales curriculum. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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