The onboarding process today is much more than a day of paperwork and a short orientation webinar. By understanding how to structure your onboarding in phases, you can create a clear strategy to engage and retain your new employees.

In today’s market, attracting and retaining talent is as challenging as ever. To get the best employees, companies need to offer them more than a competitive salary. They need to provide them with a unique work experience. The moment a candidate accepts the offer is critical, but what comes after is even more important. That’s why today, a well-structured onboarding process is key to successful hiring.

The onboarding process can make or break the new hire’s experience. A study by Gallup shows that companies with a good onboarding process improve new employee retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.Effective onboarding also reduces errors and increases employee retention.

On the other hand, a negative onboarding experience makes new employees twice as likely to look for other opportunities. This is why you should have a very well-thought-out onboarding process.

The 4 phases of onboarding process

To structure your onboarding process, it is good to break it down into phases and plan them out. This will help you improve your overall HR strategy, engage and retain new employees. It will also help them gain a deep understanding of the company’s values and culture.

Stage 1: Pre-Onboarding

Pre-Onboarding begins as soon as a candidate accepts an offer and lasts until the first day of work.

This is the time when you prepare the necessary tools and documents, do the paperwork or help the candidate relocate.

Do not underestimate this phase, because it happens that people change their decision even though they accepted the offer. Communication is key here: stay in touch with your new employee and offer them any support they need.

Onboarding can make or break the new hire experience

Stage 2: Welcome

The welcome phase can last a day or a few days – usually up to a week of a new employee joining your company. Remember that first impressions are often crucial!

This is the time to make a new employee feel welcome to your company and help them gain a general understanding of your company culture and practices. Try to keep it as simple as possible and get a new employee involved in the first few days.

Stage 3: Orientation

Orientation can begin on the new employee’s first day.

This is the time to discuss company policies regarding time off, health insurance, payroll, attendance and benefits. This is when a new employee is usually introduced to their teammates and other stakeholders and gets a deeper look into the company culture.

Stage 4: Training

This is the most crucial part of the onboarding process and is directly related to how a new employee will perform their job.

Spending time and resources teaching a new employee their tasks and responsibilities will help them start performing faster and become a full-fledged employee.

Four stages of the onboarding process

Transition and ongoing development

After the last phase, there comes a moment when an employee goes from being new to being able to contribute meaningfully and manage their tasks individually. By no means does this mean you should abandon your employee at that point.

Make sure you schedule regular performance reviews. Set clear expectations and achievable goals for new team members, and create development plans for personal growth.


How long should the onboarding process take?


HR experts agree that a good time value for successful onboarding is three months. That 90 days is likely the maximum amount of positive energy and attitude you’ll get from the employee.

A survey by CareerBuilder found that two-thirds of hiring managers and HR take less than a month to onboard new employees. HCI data shows that 58% of companies say their onboarding is focused on one week of paperwork.

With new hire turnover still high (1 in 4 new employees leave within 180 days), onboarding becomes an important part of your hiring strategy. A bad first impression and overall experience can cause employees to quit and increase the cost of filling open positions. A well-designed onboarding process can save you a lot of money and help your business continue to grow.

Do you know how long it takes your company to onboard an employee? If you’d like to take control over this metric, Human Panel can help you measure your time to onboard, as well as time to hire, time to fill, and dozens of other metrics.See how it works by requesting a free demo – all you need to do is fill out this short form below.

Make smarter decisions
with easy people analytics.