Is your onboarding process driving new hires out of the door?

Date: 21 Jan 2020

Author: Chris Radley

So, you’ve executed a slick recruitment campaign, found your ideal hire, and done a great job getting them fired up about joining the business.

And, in good faith, you’ve made plenty promises through your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) about what it’s like to work with your company.

As a result, they’ve signed the contract and it's a go! Awesome!

But what happens if you then present them with a clunky, paper-based onboarding process? Or worse still, you don’t even have an onboarding process?

We’d be lying if we said that first impressions don’t count. In fact, they count a hell of a lot when it comes to meeting someone for the first time. So why would it be any different when it comes to onboarding your latest recruit?

It makes sense, right? What we do with new hires in their initial interactions and engagements is bound to impact how quickly and easily they integrate into the business, and more importantly, how they feel about working for you.

And while it's true that impressions can change over time (with a lot of effort) there's no substitute for pulling people in from the very first moment and building out from there.

A cup of coffee on a wooden table

How seriously do new hires take the onboarding experience?

Expectations vs reality

It follows then, that the onboarding experience you go on to deliver should live up to the expectations of your new employees. But what do new hires actually expect? And how can you make sure that you don't break the all-important “psychological contract” in an epic Instagram vs. Reality onboarding blunder?

An employee’s first experience of your company should ratify their decision to change employer, farewell friends and workmates, and embrace the challenges of a new role. It's often a time of high emotion, a mix of excitement and anxiety.

One of our clients recently likened the experience of starting a new job to that of making a significant consumer purchase.

“If I think about what matters to me through the onboarding process, I actually compare it to the same considerations I take into account when deciding to buy a new car.

“I’m investing a lot of money, but I’m worried. Is it the right car for me? Is it too big, or too small? Is it powerful enough and did I choose the right colour? The first days of new car ownership should allay my fears and vindicate my decision as a buyer.

“And in the case of starting a new job, the onboarding procedures should quickly reassure me that I made the right decision to join company ABC.”

If despite the high level of engagement during recruitment, your newest employee is faced with the cruel reality of a clunky, paper-based and time-consuming onboarding process, they’ll probably experience shivers of fear down their spine. With just a little imagination they can clearly picture the state of your business’ other internal – and even customer-facing - processes.

And when faced with that hypothetical scenario, our client says: “At best I may question my decision to join. At worst I may even re-consider altogether.”


As employers, we need to create a sequence of meaningful engagements that not only get the job done (the ticky box form-filling bit) but allows new hires to socialise, build relationships, and perform well in their role. It’s our job to create a sense of momentum so they can do their best work.


You’re in business for the long-haul. But are your latest employees?

64% of new hires consider quitting due to a poor onboarding process.

While we’d all like to ‘not sweat the small stuff’, we’re only human. So that’s easier said than done.

We don’t want to waste time on endless form-filling (paper or otherwise), scanning and printing (hello? Paperless office? Flying cars?). Or repeatedly key in personal information (hey, I’ve already given you my address, IRD number, etc). And we’re put off by administrative inefficiencies and time delays.

There are already any number of HR systems out there that do the form-filling and task management and do it well. And with access to AI technology, they’re only going to get better, and create a real point of difference for the forward-thinking employer.

According to HR Daily Advisor’s article on ‘What new hires want from the onboarding experience’, the onboarding experience can make or break any new hire. To quote: “If you aren’t properly onboarding your new staff, these workers may become a flight risk.” And they cite new research from Hibob, an HR tech platform, which reveals that 64% of new employees are less likely to stay at a job after a negative onboarding experience.

Two men sitting next to each other in an office

‘Moments that matter’ or ‘Momentum’?

A great onboarding experience is as much about the ‘moments that matter’ as it is about building ‘momentum’.

However, with over half (52%) of the employees surveyed by Hibob stating that the onboarding process for their new job took up to 5 hours, you have a relatively small window of time in which to make the right impression.

Given that this is a fraction of the time that new hires will (hopefully) be with you, it’s worth designing and supporting an efficient and engaging digital and in-person on-boarding experience.

Optimised onboarding should remove the unwanted friction and frustration of endless form-filling and repeatedly keying in personal information and allow you to focus on the big stuff. The “why”, the mission, vision and value statement induction.

Automated form-filling, IT profiles and hardware set-ups, auto-scheduling mentoring, and 30/60/90-day check-ups linked directly to employees’ records certainly speed that up. But what if the system you were using actually got the job done well and acted as a catalyst to creating long lasting relationships in a system that was fun to use?

And if you’re keen to make new hires feel truly welcome, why not socialise and support new employees with a well-timed cadence of automated (but always personalised) messages and digital programmes?

A great onboarding experience isn’t a simple test drive. It’s the beginning of a journey.

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