Onboarding – Are You Rubbish At It?


Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Apart from a few organisations who are ahead of the curve with their people strategy, most businesses are pretty rubbish at onboarding too. When you consider that onboarding falls under the honeymoon period for new employees, you’d like to think that organisations would like to represent themselves in the best way possible. However, the reality is that it’s a process that is often overlooked and can lead to significant issues.

Rather than asking if you’ve had a bad experience, I’d like you to think “have I ever had a good onboarding experience and why?”


A few stats…

  • Employees who have a good onboarding experience are 69% more likely to stay on for three years or more
  • A good onboarding experience can increase employee performance by up to 11%
  • It can cost up to £50,000 for a new hire, a good onboarding experience is intrinsically linked to retention, meaning a reduction in costs (HROnboard, 2017)


The purpose of this blog is to offer my understanding of what onboarding is, before then looking at why we are so bad at it. Finally,  we will offer three simple tips on how you can improve your onboarding process.


What actually is onboarding?

The first question I want to ask is when does your onboarding process begin? For many organisations onboarding doesn’t start until the employees first day – put yourself into the shoes of that person, it’s a new environment, new people and even a new role in some cases, in order to get to value quicker your new hire deserves a fair chance.

Many organisations that I speak with claim to have an onboarding process in place however, when I probe further I begin to understand that there “onboarding process” is a short induction. Is this really going to engage and motivate your new employee? Will they feel welcome? Are you even giving them a snapshot of your internal culture?

To me personally… a good onboarding process starts from the moment that the new hire is offered the role. There’s a broad range of digital tools, as well as hard materials that we can use to “warm up” new hires before they even enter the building. However, I want you to consider, when should the onboarding process stop?  


Why are we so bad at it?

  • People process conducted by the HR team
    • One of the first mistakes we see is HR running the full end to end onboarding process. The reality is that the new hire will not be working in HR, so why would we have a member of the HR team introducing our brand and the culture within our team?
  • Lack of ROI understanding
    • Similar to Employee Engagement, onboarding is seen as a “fluffy” area, which will not guarantee a return on investment. However, if you consider how much it costs to hire someone , then why would you not want to give your new employee the best experience possible!
  • Compliance activity
    • Many businesses see onboarding as a compliance task and often will conduct an “induction”. Again, do you feel that a dull, dry and box ticking induction is going to get your new hire excited to work for you?


Three simple ways that we could improve?

  • Start Early – Finish when finished
    • Start onboarding as soon as this person is hired – this will build a picture of what your business is all about.
  • Be Engaging!
    • Let’s move away from compliance led onboarding and make it fun! We all have great businesses, that are all unique – let’s mirror this with our onboarding.
  • Let’s own it
    • Stop your HR team from running the onboarding process. Let’s give each new hire an insight into their new team.


To conclude onboarding is often overlooked by many leadership teams for a number of reasons. However, as a people process it can be crucial as you look to retain and engage your talent.  What one step can you take over the next 90 days to improve your onboarding process?


As always keen to hear your thoughts on good/bad onboarding experiences so please comment below.

To learn more about what Rencai have been doing in the onboarding space or if you have any question then please reach out on 07341 662232 or [email protected]


Harry Wright

Client Relationship and Delivery Consultant

07341 662232

[email protected]