Onboarding is key to any HR unit. It’s a critical time in an employee’s early development and sets the stage for the rest of his or her time with your organization. Just as with meeting a new person, first impressions matter.
“New hires who experience such badly planned and executed initiations may conclude that the organization is poorly managed and decide that it was a mistake to take the job,” says Arlene S. Hirsch, a career counselor and author.
Making Onboarding Matter
HR professionals put a lot of time and money into their onboarding activities, but often, they fail to measure how effective those efforts are. This can lead to companies going through the same onboarding processes for years without really understanding if they are effective, which is a waste of time or even counterproductive.
The stakes are pretty high when it comes to effective onboarding. We already mentioned the importance of onboarding in creating a positive first impression in a previous post. But there’s also money involved. The costs will obviously vary by organization, but some experts say it costs an average of $400 to onboard a new employee.
And that may be a significant underestimate or calculated based on a narrow definition of onboarding activities. According to Glassdoor, the average U.S. employer spends roughly $4,000 and 25 days to hire a new worker.
Impacts Throughout the Employee Life Cycle
Think about how the high costs of onboarding can start to add up if you’re repeating these activities over and over again due to high turnover.
According to Roy Mauer, onboarding is key to employee retention. “A 2009 study by the Aberdeen Group of senior executives and HR staffing and recruiting functions found that 86 percent of respondents felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment.”
Recruiting, onboarding, training, coaching, and counseling employees are costly endeavors. Losing employees, especially top talent, comes at a high cost.
A solid onboarding program is clearly key to employee development and retention. But, it’s very hard to build a solid onboarding program without actually measuring what you’re doing. In a follow-up post, we’ll talk about some specific tips and strategies for effective onboarding measurement.