6 Steps to Better Onboarding

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6 Steps to Better Onboarding

6 Steps to Better Onboarding

Today’s Reality About Onboarding

Onboarding studies reveal that up to 90% of employees will make a decision to leave a company within six (6) months of starting their employment.1 Statistics show that the cost of replacing an employee can amount to 3 – 14 times base salary. Executive ranks are also susceptible with 40-50% of new CEOs failing in the first eighteen (18) months2.

Despite these eye-opening statistics, only 37% of companies have had a formal onboarding program in place for more than two (2) years. Accordingly, in many cases, new employees receive little management support on their journey to become productive contributors as quickly as possible.

Onboarding is more than new hire training and setting up employee bank accounts and setting benefit plans. It should be a comprehensive introduction to firm culture, processes, communities, and strategies. It also takes longer than a week of introductory training. Here are our six (6) recommendations for creating a more effective onboarding program.

1) Engage with a Community of Practice

While employees are hired for their technical skills and experience, they can benefit from being connected and engaged with employees who have similar job functions or interests. By being part of such a community, their questions and challenges can be submitted to a community of practice to not only help the new employee, but provide new insights to the community at large. Innovation and new thinking can be shared with those who are in the best position to utilize it within the organization. Relationships that are developed accelerate the new employee’s sense of engagement and belonging to the company.

2) Connect to Content Management Systems

New employees need to be supported in their daily work by the collective knowledge assets of the organization. This content should be user oriented, well organized, and made available in a content management system (CMS). Latest technologies such as Microsoft SharePoint provide contextual search capabilities and easy access. These systems must be user friendly and contained functional and process knowledge. Tools such as RapidMapper can enhance CMS systems by providing user-oriented organization and quick access to information to help them become acquainted with established processes and content, and be successful in their first months onboard.

3) Receive On-the-Job Training

Formal OJT, particularly in the first months, has an immeasurable impact on employee productivity. There is so much knowledge that can be transferred when employees are engaged in on the job training. Though there are opportunity costs involved in having an experienced employee spend time with a new employee, the investment pays off in the long run. OJT helps new workers form close relationships which fosters teamwork and trust.

4) Tap into Experts

Orientation sessions and knowledge systems should identify key experts by functional and process area, and encourage new workers to access them when needed to help the company succeed. Online expert profiles should be created and accessible to new employees. In addition, knowledge systems should provide experts with easy to use processes for transferring what they know to those that can benefit from their knowledge.

5) Mentoring

The aging baby boomers in organizations represent an unprecedented fount of organization knowledge. We believe the best knowledge transfer technique for these veterans is a formal mentoring program. This not only helps speed up the learning process in employee development, it captures valuable knowledge from one generation to another. Failing to do this risks the loss of valuable institutional knowledge, and increases the risk of negative impact to customer service.

6) Integration is Key

While implementing systems and processes for each of these areas is necessary, it is not sufficient. Systems must be integrated to create a multiplier effect of onboarding and development benefits. Strategic planning and cross functional collaboration can ensure that the necessary processes, technology and tools provide for faster time to employee integration and engagement.

Experiencing Onboarding Challenges?

If you’re experiencing challenges with comprehensive onboarding and employee engagement, then contact us for a free consultation about your issues. For years, we have helped Fortune 1000 companies create a smarter, more effective workforce, and we do this by helping clients increase their effectiveness in people development and engagement, talent management, and integrated process design and delivery.


[1] – Bauer, T. N., 2010, Aberdeen 2006 Survey

[2] – Center for Creative Leadership