Good Onboarding Process Creates Engaged Workers

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By Genevieve Douglas

Feb. 17 — Effective onboarding processes and procedures are paramount for employers, because the first impression an organization gives to a new employee could have a lasting effect on that individual's engagement, according to human resources consultants.

People approach new employment with a “high degree of trepidation,” human capital management consultant Kevin Sheridan told attendees of a webinar hosted by the Society for Human Resource Management Feb. 16. “These new employees are looking for validation that they made the right call on the first day of work,” he said.

According to Sheridan of Kevin Sheridan LLC, one in 25 employees quits on their first day of work, so it's important for employers to avoid the common missteps that can lead to new hires being a part of that statistic. Mistakes managers make on an employee's first day, he said, include:

• not meeting the employee at the front door;
• not making introductions to the new employee's team;
• giving the employee lots of paperwork and manuals to read; and
• not ensuring the new employee's technology, workspace or credentials are up and running.


“Onboarding is the process of transforming a new hire into a fully functioning, integrated member of the team,” so starting off on the right foot with the new employee will lead to a more productive, engaged worker, Sheridan said.

Introduce Co-Workers and Culture

Increasingly, organizations are recognizing that the younger generations entering the workforce particularly value a compelling business and social proposition for employment, Rick Lash, national practice leader for consulting firm Korn Ferry Hay Group, told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 17. In terms of onboarding, the process should include this communication of corporate culture and purpose as the first introduction to the company, he recommended.

Connecting new hires with corporate leadership goes a long way to show that culture and purpose to new employees, Lash said. “Some organizations just show you to your desk and that's it,” he said, and those employees left without social introductions to their co-workers and managers can “feel lost for the first several months.”

Importance of Early Engagement

If an employee can get through the first 90 days of a new job, he or she often stays for a long time, Danny Nelms, president of the Work Institute, told Bloomberg BNA Feb. 17. According to Nelms, many employers don't focus on the necessary importance of the onboarding period, and “it kind of gets overlooked.”

That can immediately turn a new hire off, he said. “So often people feel like they show up for the first day and it's as if the employer didn't know they were coming,” Nelms said. “That first day is so critical.”

To help ensure a high level of engagement, the candidate needs to be the right hire for the right job, Sheridan said. Recruiters and HR should evaluate a candidate's predisposition to be engaged during the interview process, and interview for attitude and cultural fit over technical skills, he said.

Additionally, managers can proactively solicit feedback from new hires on the first day of work and at the end of the first week, Sheridan said. After the initial hiring period has ended, performance reviews also offer an opportunity to address engagement with employees, he added.

It's “crucially important” that there are continuous feedback loops from employees, Nelms said. Employers should ask whether the employee felt comfortable on the first day and whether the organization was prepared, he said, adding that these are the things that may need to be fixed, and this is what gets missed most often.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at