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The Importance of Employee Onboarding & Onboarding Studies

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What is Onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process by which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviors to become effective, engaged members of their teams, departments and the organization. The goals of onboarding are to socialize new hires within the organization, shorten new hire time to productivity and encourage long-term retention.1

Typically comprised of multiple stages, onboarding should be strategic, comprehensive, consistent and measured.1 A few onboarding best practices include continuous training, structured orientation, established job expectations and assignment of a mentor.2 The onboarding process varies in length and should be tailored to the needs of the organization and job.  For example, some organizations may have a 90-day onboarding process, while others may require 12 months or more.3

Why is Onboarding Important?

Effective onboarding has been proven to impact key organizational outcomes and positively influence organizational culture. A few benefits of effective onboarding include:

  • Effective onboarding increases retention. Research links effective onboarding to reduced turnover and increased retention.1 In one study, employees were 60% more likely to remain with the organization for more than three years when there is a structured onboarding program.4 In another study, 15% of respondents decided to leave their current position simply due to an ineffective or no onboarding process.5 This is important, as increased retention impacts organizational characteristics including culture, morale and productivity.6
  • Effective onboarding reduces employee ramp-up time. Studies show that effective onboarding reduces the time it takes a new employee to effectively contribute to the organization.7 Additional benefits of a shortened ramp-up time include, a reduced time to reach optimized productivity, achieve better performance and build workplace relationships. 7
  • Effective onboarding increases the likelihood of employee engagement. Multiple studies reveal that effective onboarding programs increase the likelihood that employees will be engaged in the workplace. 7,8,9 A study on driving performance and engagement showed that effective onboarding increases employees’ “discretionary effort” by as much as 20%.10 Other studies link effective onboarding to improved employee perceptions of workplace conditions where engagement is most likely to happen.7,8

The immediate benefit of effective onboarding is a productive new-hire and the longer-term benefits are improved productivity, engagement, and retention.

Why are Onboarding Studies & Surveys Important?

Employee onboarding impacts key employee and business outcomes. Yet, in one study, less than half of companies surveyed (48%), believe that their onboarding is somewhat successful, and less than one third (28%), believe their onboarding is highly successful.11 Furthermore, in today’s employee-in-control marketplace first-year turnover is high, accounting for 34% of all turnover in 2016 according to the 2017 Retention Report, which underscores the importance of the onboarding process in the new hire experience.12

Onboarding studies and surveys are important as they provide feedback on how to improve employee onboarding processes. When conducted effectively, onboarding studies identify specific opportunities that require change to improve the onboarding process, assess workplace conditions that are drivers of engagement and retention, uncover strengths and opportunities of the onboarding and more.

Don’t settle for begin somewhat successful or not successful with your onboarding process. Conduct onboarding studies and surveys to design a successful onboarding process and drive engagement and retention with onboarding.

Download the Essential Guide to Onboarding Studies and learn the what, why, when and how to effectively use onboarding studies to drive engagement and retention.


  1. Krasman, M. (2015). Three must-have onboarding elements for new and relocated employees. Employment Relations Today, 9-14. doi: 10.1002/ert
  2. Allied. (2012). Allied workforce mobility survey: Onboarding and retention. Retrieved from
  3. Norton, G. (2014). Onboarding not working? Learn from your offboarding practices. Workforces Solutions Review, 11-13.
  4. Gillespie Associates. (2016). Why onboarding that new hire will increase your bottom line. Strategic Onboarding. Retrieved from      
  5. Quigley, J. (2014). Do you care about onboarding? You should! BambooHR. Retrieved from
  6. Maurer, R. (2015). Onboarding key to retaining, engaging talent. SHRM. Retrieved from
  7. Snell, A. (2006). Researching onboarding best practice: Using research to connect onboarding processes with employee satisfaction. Strategic HR Review, 5, 32-35. doi: 10.1108/14754390680000925
  8. Grillo, M., & Kim, H. K. (2015). A strategic approach to onboarding design: Surveys, materials, & diverse hires. Retrieved from Cornell University, ILR School site:
  9. Keisling, B., & Laning, M. (2016). We are happy to be here: The onboarding experience in academic libraries. Journal of Library Administration, 56, 381-394. doi: 10.1080/01930826.2015.1105078
  10. Corporate Leadership Council. (2004). Driving performance and retention through employee engagement." Retrieved from
  11. Allied. (2012). Allied workforce mobility survey: Onboarding and retention. Retrieved from
  12. Sears, Lindsay. 2017 Retention Report: Trends, Reasons & Recommendations.


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