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Best Practices of Effective Employee Onboarding

A new employee can tell a lot about a company on the first day. Are co-workers friendly? Are they happy in their jobs? How competent is the business? How effective is the company’s employee onboarding process?

Likely, the new employee will feel a bit like the new kid at school – nervous, apprehensive and, perhaps, a little awkward. How the company welcomes a new employee can strongly influence that employee’s longevity, making effective employee onboarding extremely important.

In fact, 79% of business leaders say successful onboarding is an important priority. Employers aim for a higher level of engagement for their new employees, both with the company and its culture. The earlier this happens, the better as it reduces the time it takes for a new hire to become fully productive.

In 2013, Aberdeen Group, a U.S.-based technology and services company, scored organizations on their employee onboarding efforts. Those considered “onboarding laggards” – scoring in the bottom 30 percent of those surveyed – retained only 30 percent of their employees after one year. In contrast, those considered “best in class” – the top 20 percent of those scored – retained an impressive 91 percent of their first-year employees.

TalentWise, a leading provider of Hiring Process Management (HPM) Solutions that is now SterlingONE, referenced the Aberdeen findings in its whitepaper “The Candidate Experience: Why Retention Starts with the Offer Letter.”

“A new hire’s first day may be the day an employer is most scrutinized by that employee,” according to TalentWise’s whitepaper. “A good experience will give an employer a start on building employee loyalty – but a poor experience will almost certainly have a new hire thinking about other options and resuming a job search.”

How Does Effective Employee Onboarding Impact the Bottom Line?

If you’ve ever had a bad experience starting at a company that wasn’t well-organized or prepared for your arrival, you’ll completely understand the need to succeed at the process of employee onboarding. Every single time and with every stage of the process, from hiring to orienting to successfully familiarizing new hires with their roles and the company culture.

But do you know the monetary impact of losing a valuable employee because of an ineffective employee onboarding process?

Here are a few statistics from TalentWise’s whitepaper that illustrate the huge value of contributing to employee retention with effective employee onboarding:

  • Recruiting costs, per hire, are $3,500
  • It takes an average of eight months for a new employee to become fully productive in a role
  • When an employee leaves an organization, 70 percent of that person’s knowledge walks out the door with him or her
  • Employee turnover is estimated at 150 percent of the annual salary associated with that position
  • After a disastrous first day, up to 4 percent of new employees leave their jobs; 22 percent of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days.

Common Challenges of Employee Onboarding

While a good employee onboarding process is vital, creating the perfect workflow isn’t easy.

A major cause of disorganization when new employees begin at a company is that there hasn’t been a reasonable amount of time allocated to the different components of the first-day employee onboarding process.

Poor employee onboarding can result in delays, inconsistencies, gaps in knowledge and a lack of productivity for these new employees. They may obtain information through back channels, sending them down the wrong path, and resulting in more effort and hours wasted when someone has to retrain them.

This isn’t necessarily due to laziness or lack of interest on behalf of those responsible. All too often, it’s a breakdown in the process line itself.

Here are a few of the biggest challenges in creating an effective employee onboarding process:

  • Scheduling conflicts (or lack of scheduling altogether!)
  • Lack of communication among those responsible for employee onboarding
  • Role ambiguity
  • Unrealistic job expectations
  • Time management issues
  • Misunderstanding of company culture

As part of our Nintex Workflow best practices blog series, we’ve produced a workflow template for you to use and modify that will help you automate your company’s employee onboarding process.

Using Nintex Workflow to Automate Onboarding

We’ll assume that your organization uses SharePoint. You’ll need to build a dedicated Human Resources site with a predefined list for new employee onboarding. Enter the new starter’s name and contact details, action and current status of the onboarding process into the list. Let’s presume there is an individual—a Human Resources manager—who’s in charge of the process. The workflow begins once a candidate accepts a job offer.

1.  Use the Send Email action

After a job candidate accepts a job offer, an automated email will be sent acknowledging the offer acceptance and welcoming the person to the company. You can build in a request for a reply or that he or she update another list to confirm receiving the email.

2.  Use the Assign a Task action

Via a Nintex workflow, a new employee’s manager can assign a task to alert IT to set up the person on the company’s system – user names, temporary passwords, equipment. IT can then assign the task to a specific team member to complete. Add the Update List Item action to your workflow to notify the HR manager and the Finance Department.

3. Use the Run If action

The Finance Department can assign the new employee to Payroll. Once the employee is set up in the system, a notification is sent to the person’s manager – again using Nintex task assignments. The Run If action enables you to move the workflow forward only once Payroll is done setting up the employee. An alternative is to use the Conditional Branching action.

4.  Use the Assign a Task action

With this action, you can request that the HR manager assign a desk or office for the employee. Once the workstation is confirmed, the workflow can request the person’s first-day schedule from his or her team leader/manager.

5.  Use Create Site, Create List and Create List Item actions

Our Nintex workflow now creates a first-day schedule for the employee. This schedule could easily be in a separate list or even a separate site. This schedule can include:

  • Passing the employee to the supervision of his or her team leader/manager for more specific role instructions
  • Meet-and-greet
  • Tour of facility/company


Click here to try Nintex Workflow free for 30 days!

Chris Ellis

Nintex Technical Director Chris Ellis brings years of experience as a software engineer and a lifelong passion for technology to the role. Based in Melbourne, Australia, he loves showing people the value and simplicity of the Nintex workflow platform. When not working, he enjoys snowboarding and traveling (he has fond memories of a six-week trip in Southeast Asia). Follow him on Twitter @ce1906

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