We know that it can take new hires a long time to get up to speed. According to The Sheffield Leadership Survey, most organisations claim to have some form of onboarding or induction process. Despite this, it takes most of these businesses between 6-12 months for their new leaders to get up to speed and ¼ said it takes more than 18 months.

A year and a half to get an employee up to speed? We think this is far too long, especially given the vast majority of businesses we deal with say “we want someone who can hit the ground running”.

A year and a half to get an employee up to speed? We think this is far too long

According to DDI research, what happens during a new employee’s first 100 days predicts how successful they will be in that role from day 101 onwards. We also know it can be a vulnerable and frustrating time for new recruits, especially if there is a poor or absent onboarding process present. Thus, the risk of staff turnover can be high during their first 6 months.

Whilst there is a tremendous amount of information available about what to include in an onboarding programme, it’s important to reflect inwards and ask yourself if your onboarding programme is aligned with your organisation’s culture and way of functioning. This is critical for it to be effective. Also, there’s a big difference between an informal/unplanned induction versus and a well thought out, formal onboarding programme that engages new employees from day 1 (or before), in all aspects of the organisation.

Have you reviewed your onboarding programme lately?

Have you reviewed your onboarding programme lately? Is it a key component of your people strategy or merely a ‘tick the box' exercise? Given the importance of getting it right, we’d argue it needs to be the former. The problem is, if you’ve been in the organisation for a while, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees and objectively determine if your onboarding programme is having the impact it needs. Therefore, it may pay to have someone external assist in a review of your onboarding programme or at least ask (with an open mind) recent recruits about their experience when they joined the organisation.

Aside from the standard information new employees usually receive when they join an organisation (e.g. policies, procedures, who’s who etc.), personalising an onboarding programme can be beneficial. This is especially important if you are wanting to maximise performance and job satisfaction early on. Things to consider in this regard are:


·         Giving new employees a practical understanding of where their role fits into the bigger picture


·         Facilitating prompt network building with key people


·         Ensuring there is an assignment and key areas of work to focus on


·         Determining coaching and/or mentoring requirements and other personal development support to get them up to speed fast


·         Setting up regular catch-ups to hear their insights and discuss their progress


·         Having an open-door policy, especially while they settle in.


·         Also, don’t forget the little things which can make a huge difference to a newbie’s first impression on one day 1. Things such as:


·         Engaging with them before they start. Send information about the business to review, invite them staff events etc.


·         Ensuring there’s a welcoming leader and team ready for their arrival


·         Conducting a workplace tour (tearooms, toilets, emergency exits etc.) and face-to-face introductions with team members


·         A fully functioning workspace at the ready


·         Training in role specific systems


·         Being shown where the local lunch/coffee spot is


·         Having a coffee with them, and simply asking how they are feeling and what support would help them to adjust to their new world of work.


At the end-of-the-day, every person is different, so there is never a one-size-fits all approach and it can be a lot of work to onboard new team members well. However, it’s important to remember the aim is to create a frictionless transition that facilitates retention, performance, and ‘fit’ as swiftly as possible. Thus, the pay-off for the extra effort (for employer and employee) is worth it.

Gretchen's original article on LinkedIn can be found here.

Gretchen can be contacted here.

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