1. 28 Employment Today FEBRUARY 2017
n employee’s first few days are critically important—
not only because the organisation needs to get
their new hire up to speed, but also because the
initial days of a new job hold huge influence over
an employee’s long-term decision to stay. It doesn’t stop there,
however. Research shows it takes six months to earn a new
employee’s loyalty. It’s no wonder the Boston Consulting Group
found onboarding to have the second-highest business impact of
22 HR practices.
Over the past year, voluntary staff turnover has increased in
23 percent of New Zealand organisations, according to Hays.
Set for successSavvy organisations don’t stop
onboarding after the first week,
or even the first three months.
It takes six months to earn a
new employee’s loyalty, says
Winny Tang. Are you ready?
2. FEBRUARY 2017 Employment Today 29
month of employment, while a quarter
take onboarding beyond the first three
Onboarding has become a more holistic
process, moving beyond compliance
paperwork to encompass instilling
mission values and workplace culture.
ONBOARDING TOP TIPS
1. Managers step aside—try buddies. Being paired with an established employee provides resources for
information on office procedures, culture quirks, or even the best places to grab lunch. It can make
the first few months of a job much easier.
2. Don’t fear social networks, use them. Social networks within the company intranet allow employees
a way to ask questions, share knowledge, have their voices heard and develop connections.
3. Try an old-fashioned conversation (no surveys).
4. Let employees teach employees. If the budget is tight, organising ‘lunch and learns’ provides the
opportunity for employees to share tips, skills and knowledge.
5. Get executives on the front lines.
6. Ask “How can we change it up?” Infusing outside interests through brainstorming innovative ideas
can break up work monotomy, build team trust, and bring new ideas to the table.
7. Let employees toot the company horn.
8. Show some love in the form of sincere acknowledgement.
9. Use technology before day one (think Millennials). Millennials expect self-service information
and 24/7 access, so incorporating technology into onboarding and more is essential to retaining
The annual New Zealand Staff Turnover
survey released in March 2016 also found
that the national average turnover for 2015
was 18.4 percent, the highest rate since
2008 and an 11 percent increase on the
To address these turnover issues,
onboarding must form a crucial part of an
organisation’s retention strategy for two
1. Turnover is expensive—astronomically
so. The cost of replacing an entry-
level employee is 30-50 percent of the
person’s annual salary. For mid and
senior level employees, it can reach 150-
400 percent respectively. Don’t forget
that with every departure, morale and
productivity may suffer too!
2. New hires decide whether to stay
or go fast. A study by analyst firm
Aberdeen found that 86 percent of
respondents felt that a new hires
decision to stay with an organisation
long term is made within the first six
months of employment.
To engage new employees, today’s
onboarding must go beyond a one-day
HR orientation, signing paperwork, and
reading a company brochure.
So how do organisations define on-
boarding? How does it fit into their overall
strategy? Who is involved in the process?
And how does technology enhance on-
SilkRoad’s 2016 CLO Innovations in
Onboarding Survey, aimed to answer
these pressing questions. The survey
examined best practices in onboarding and
delved into the success stories of various
organisations to gleam top tips. A total of
389 respondents participated in the survey
across numerous organisations, large
Onboarding has become a longer process,
expanding beyond new hires and lasting
beyond the first few days.
Survey results revealed that only
12 percent of organisations say their
onboarding process lasts a single day.
Nearly half of the organisations surveyed
onboarded new hires beyond their first
MAKE THAT BUSINESS CASE TODAY!
1. Use business jargon: Instead of only pointing to HR issues (turnover, cost-per-hire, employee
engagement, etc), attempt to make the case for onboarding software by also talking about
organisational issues such as customer loyalty, sales and fewer errors.
2. Gather data on time-to-full proficiency: A positive experience for new employees is nice, but the
typical CFO cares more about time-to-full-proficiency. So, structure your argument with data and
request the CFO to put a dollar value on those outcomes. The CFO’s analysis should also demonstrate
a solid ROI for onboarding software.
3. Suggest a small pilot: Discover a way to run a small, short-term pilot so managers can view the
software in action. Once managers can ‘see and touch it,’ they will be more supportive of an enterprise
wide roll out.
4. Track retention in high volume jobs: It is easy to get good data on retention for high-volume positions
(eg, retail clerks, hospitality workers, entry level health care jobs). Compare retention between a sample
of employees who went through an HR onboarding programme and a sample that did not. Even small
improvements in retention can easily justify the cost of employee onboarding software.
3. 30 Employment Today FEBRUARY 2017
Due to the trend of extending
onboarding programmes, the definition
of onboarding and the scope of
onboarding strategy has broadened. It
now includes goals, such as increased
retention or improved company culture,
and encompasses transitional employees
moving within the organisation. This
expansion in the definition and scope of
onboarding then requires the incorporation
of new processes and practices into
existing onboarding processes.
Senior executives and L&D team
members are frequent onboarding
The onboarding process often begins
with the human resources department. For
53.1 percent of organisations surveyed,
onboarding is still very much a centralised
process. Only 28.3 percent of organisations
decentralised their processes by business
unit, with 25.1 percent by geographic
region and 13.5 percent by employee
Managers—who own the onboarding
process at 15.6 percent of organisations—
also are often brought in to set learning
goals for the new hire. The results showed
that 56.6 percent of organisations have
learning goals that are mutually agreed
upon by the manager and the new hire,
with 42.7 percent having only managers
setting learning goals.
The L&D team also has a hand in
setting goals for new hires (51.5 percent of
Senior executives also have a part to
play when it comes to onboarding. Execu-
tive commitment and leadership visibility
go a long way to making new hires feel
valued, whether that’s through a welcome
breakfast, providing a business strategy
overview or other direct interaction.
By standing both in front of and
behind the onboarding curtain, leaders
can set strategy, work with new hires and
managers to achieve onboarding goals,
and demonstrate commitment to the new
Onboarding practices are becoming more
engaging and technology is being used
more than ever.
With compliance being the large part
of any first day, the average organisation
spends 3.8 hours per employee on
required paperwork. To reduce this
time, technology plays a large part in the
onboarding process for many organisations.
Increasingly, paperwork is being front-
loaded into an online portal to hasten the
organisation’s preboarding activities.
These online portals also have the
ability of connecting new hires with their
new team members and learning portals.
Onboarding technologies also provide new
hires with access to traditional classroom-
based learning in many different places,
and often on-demand.
While traditional classroom-based
instructor-led training (ILT) is still being
used by the majority of organisations,
newer learning techniques are also
gaining popularity. Nearly two-thrirds
(61.8 percent) of respondent organisations
reported using self-paced e-learning and
45.5 percent are relying on other means
such as videos, mobile devices and
The top technologies currently being
used in onboarding are video, online
learning/webinars, and online onboarding
portals. Despite being used less often,
30 percent of organisations also use
discussion forums and social networking,
while 13 percent use online conferencing
By using a variety of learning methods
and technologies, organisations will be
well positioned to reap positive outcomes
from their onboarding efforts.
Onboard Offboard Transfer
Number of employees in the organisation 1000 10% 4% 3%
Employees processed per year 100 40 30
ANNUAL ORGANISATION SAVINGS
EMPLOYEE MATERIALS: FORMS & DOCUMENTS
Materials: production and processing $10.00 $10.00 $10.00
Materials: shipping and handling $20.00 $20.00 $20.00
Total forms/documents cost savings $30.00 $30.00 $30.00
TASK MANAGEMENT TIME
Tracking logistics with other department (hours) 6.00 6.00 6.00
Collection of forms/documents from employee (hours) 3.00 3.00 3.00
Processing (hours) 2.00 2.00 2.00
Total time saved per employee processes 11.00 11.00 11.00
Average full-time employee (FTE) w/benefits $28.00 $28.00 $28.00
Total FTE w/ benefits savings per employee processed $308.00 $308.00 $308.00
(Note: FTE rate $28/hr = ($43K/yr + $15K benefits) is the
national avg of all the employees involved in this process.
EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY: LABOUR
Accelerated time to productivity (hours) 24.00 24.00
Full-time employee w/ benefits hourly wage $28.00 $28.00
Total cost savings per employee $672.00 $672.00
Total savings per employee $982.00 $310.00 $972.00
Total annual organisation savings $98,200.00 $12,400.00 $29,160.00
4. FEBRUARY 2017 Employment Today 31
Successful onboarding outcomes include
increasing engagement, improving culture
and reducing time to productivity.
Organisations can achieve these
outcomes by involving employees in
the onboarding process, and using a
variety of learning and delivery methods.
Assessing onboarding’s effectiveness
through predefined metrics is essential for
determining how successful onboarding
efforts are at improving culture,
engagement, and retention.
Quarterly and annual review
processes are still the most widely used
measurement tools for new hire learning
goals at 65.4 percent. These review
processes allow organisations to track
progress toward learning goals.
In addition to assessing new hire
progress, it’s also important to measure
return-on-investment. The table on page
30 captures sample costs and savings
associated with onboarding automation
through one year.
Successful onboarding goes beyond
filling out required paperwork by
introducing employees to the workplace
and providing the tools they need to
succeed at the organisation. By exposing
new hires to the company culture
from day one, employees will be better
positioned to succeed within their roles.
Savvy organisations don’t stop
onboarding after the first week or even
the first three months. Many organisations
recognise the need for onboarding with
any transitions, including new roles,
relocations and other changes. Onboarding
sets up employees for success throughout
their company career.
WINNY TANG is digital marketing consultant
APAC with SilkRoad. For more information
please contact: Paulette Norman, regional
sales manager, New Zealand.
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LOOK LIKE IN 2025?
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