The Importance of Onboarding to the Success of New Hires

Wuraola Ademola-Shanu
May 19, 2022
min read
September 19, 2023
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The onboarding experience has a huge influence on the success of new employees. Learn how to make the most of their first days and months at your company.
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Candidates are steering the job market, and finding talent is only the first step. What makes new hires sign on the dotted line? More importantly, what makes them want to stay? 

There’s a surefire way to stand out and increase employee retention. And it goes beyond a stacked benefits package. 

The secret to success lies in your onboarding program. While often overlooked or underestimated, a new hire’s first 90 days hugely determine their happiness, dedication and your company’s overall employee retention rate.

Ninety-three percent of employers believe a good onboarding experience critically influences a new employee’s decision to stay with the company. Employees who undergo a structured onboarding program are 69 percent more likely to stick around for at least three years, while a poor onboarding experience doubles their chances of looking for a new job. 

When you examine the negative impact of insufficient onboarding, it’s no wonder that approximately 10 percent of employees resign due to a bad experience.

Reduce turnover and give your business a competitive edge in the job market. Let’s examine the traits of effective onboarding and discuss why onboarding plays such an essential role in company success. 

What is Onboarding?

Have you ever had a first day at work go so well that you just knew you’d made the right decision? That’s what an incredible onboarding process does.

Effective onboarding fully integrates new employees into an organization’s processes, culture, teams and environment. During onboarding, the company provides new hires with the tools and resources to help them adapt to their new roles. 

According to SHRM, onboarding is a magical moment that connects employees with your greater mission. When done correctly, it’s a precious experience that increases the likelihood of staying at your company by 82 percent.

It’s important to note the differences between onboarding and preboarding, another employee development process that companies often overlook. 

What is Preboarding?

Preboarding is the duration between a new hire accepting a job offer and starting on their first day.

Imagine yourself in the shoes of a new hire: You accept a job offer. Your new employer says, “Congratulations! We’ll see you next month.” And then you wait. 

Well, not quite.

If you hear nothing from your new employer during that period, your excitement may quickly become anxiety. It’s a critical stage that can directly impact your first day and the weeks that follow. That’s where preboarding comes into play. 

Preboarding addresses your new hire's emotions and takes care of the administrative aspects of starting a new role. It ensures that they’re prepared and raring to go on day one.

Think of preboarding as a transitional employee engagement process that lasts until the start date. On the other hand, onboarding continues for months or even years. 

According to Click Boarding, it takes new employees 8-12 months to become as efficient as their tenured co-workers. Seventy-seven percent of employees who went through a formal onboarding process met their first performance goals. Employees who engaged in the most extended onboarding programs (up to a year) achieved complete competence 34 times faster than their colleagues who didn’t.

Mind-blowing, right? 

Organizations that focus only on week one might miss their chance to properly train, answer questions and build connections with the team. And relationships are a vital piece of the onboarding puzzle. 

Who supports onboarding? 

HR is directly in charge of onboarding, which might include input from several other departments. Mainly, this involves the administrative side of things. It’s just as important that your employee feels welcomed by their team. 

Onboarding is both a process and an experience. As you ramp up your program, consider assigning a(n):

  • Onboarding Buddy
  • Coach
  • Manager
  • Mentor

Onboarding Buddy

Today, 47 percent of businesses use a buddy program. An onboarding buddy is a peer who has been with the company for one to three years. Introduce a buddy on the new hire’s first day, and ask them to support their transition.

Rather than a manager, select a direct colleague. A buddy should be able to relate to the employee’s challenges and offer advice. A slight lift can make a major impact – 56 percent of new hires prefer having a mentor or buddy assist them during their first few weeks. 


A coach is someone with experience in the new hire’s role. They also likely have a long tenure – about five to ten years. 

A coach isn’t a manager. Instead, they offer information and resources specific to the job. Choose a colleague who does or has done the work before. They can conduct formal training or provide step-by-step documents to teach your new hire how to succeed. 


The manager is the employee’s direct supervisor. They will be both a long-term leader and serve as a primary function in the onboarding process. A manager should work directly with HR to coordinate which onboarding activities fall under their purview. For example, a manager might:

  • Send a welcome email.
  • Train the hire for career development. 
  • Introduce the team.
  • Conduct ongoing check-ins. 


Finally, a mentor is usually a member of your leadership team who agrees to guide your new hire in their career. While a coach focuses on training specific skillsets, a mentor offers professional development and industry insights. Assigning a mentor during the onboarding process has proven effective for 87 percent of businesses. 

Pro Tip: We recommend matching similar personalities with each other. You reduce awkwardness and build an effective rapport between the mentor and mentee. 

Importance of Onboarding

1. Increases employee engagement

A Gallup study found a connection between a company’s number of engaged employees and performance outcomes. Companies with more engagement enjoy increased:

  • Employee retention.
  • Employee satisfaction.
  • Revenue.
  • Product and/or service quality.
  • Quality customer service (and superior evaluations). 

2. Immersion into the company culture

Make sure you thoroughly educate your employees on the company’s vision, mission and core values. Your new hire should learn to display the characteristics that drive the company forward. They can only know what matters to the company if they understand why

Vision: The company’s purpose.

Mission: How you intend to fulfill the company vision. 

Core Values: The ethos and principles your company follows to achieve its purpose. 

What are your company’s vision, mission and values? Showcase these terms so your employees can understand what they mean for them. 

3. Reduces turnover and turnover costs

Turnover is expensive. The cost of replacing one employee can range from half to twice the amount of their salary. 

Even a modest turnover rate has a cost. According to a Gallup study, a 100-person company with an average salary of $50,000 could lose between $660,000 to $2.6 million in yearly turnover and replacement costs. 

Now consider the other disadvantages of a lost employee. Resources are likely scarce, and there is almost always a knowledge gap. One loss can disrupt an entire team, not to mention the time and energy it takes for the organization to find someone new. 

Companies that invest in effective onboarding procedures save money by retaining 50 percent of their new employees compared to organizations that don’t.

4.  Fosters teamwork, leadership and mentorship

Beyond helping new hires adapt to the company and their roles, onboarding should build interpersonal relationships. Employees can’t invest in your brand without first investing in their team. 

The onboarding process should make room for departmental meetings and 1:1 check-ins. Buddies, coaches, managers and mentors play a pivotal role in strengthening these bonds. They can share stories and place your new hire on the path for future leadership, career growth and company loyalty.

Create a viable onboarding program

Onboarding sets your employees up for a long-lasting career with the company. Put the energy in to ensure that new hires feel engaged, recognized and prepared to start their journey. 

Any organization can implement an effective onboarding program. It starts with buy-in. Educate your organization on how onboarding can impact retention, productivity and the company’s bottom line. In the end, the value speaks for itself.   

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