Starting Off on the Right Foot: Onboarding

Posted by Robin Erickson on June 27, 2018.

Have your organization’s employees ever told you that their onboarding experience supported them throughout their entire career? Probably not. That’s because the typical onboarding process is often confused with “orientation,” a two- or three-day whirlwind of compliance-related paperwork, team exercises, and administrative tasks. After this exhausting experience, which is hardly memorable, the new employee is often left to his or her own devices—and may look for a new job within a few months.

An effective onboarding experience should be strategic, structured, connected to the employee’s total career with the company, and be designed with specific outcomes in mind. And it isn’t an isolated activity.

We are finding that few organizations pay attention to five critical components, or what we call the five Cs of strategic onboarding. One of these components refers to “clarification.” New hires want to feel that after the initial round of compliance tasks, they are being set up for success and not cast afloat to flounder. They need to know what the next steps are. For that to happen, companies should set them up with engaged managers who clearly define their roles and responsibilities. Having milestones for the first 30, 60, or 90 days not only gives new hires clear direction but also helps keep their managers engaged on an ongoing basis.

Importance of Strategic Onboarding

The point is: the time you spend on onboarding a candidate makes a difference. Strategic onboarding adopts a long-term and structured approach that goes beyond the first few days of orientation. It results in a more effective process that helps prevent early attrition. But few companies even question whether their onboarding programs are working. In fact, our High-Impact Talent Acquisition research reveals only 25 percent of surveyed respondents agree or strongly agree that their organization measures the effectiveness of onboarding (see Figure 1).1

Does Your Organization Measure the Effectiveness of its Onboarding Program?

Source: Deloitte Consulting LLP © 2018

Using Technology

What’s one key thing you can do? Increasingly, technology plays a vital part in creating a structured, ongoing onboarding process. For example, software portals offer new hires complete visibility into the process, providing everything from new hire checklists to available resources and networking opportunities. Dashboards allow managers to track new employees’ progress and keep up with their own onboarding responsibilities. Investing in these tools can support a more strategic approach to onboarding that lasts long-term and creates employee experience that leads to success through sustained goal-setting, mentoring, and cultural assimilation. And Bersin can help you do this—through our Understanding Employee Experience series and our ongoing research in this area.

If your organization is working on new employee experience initiatives and you’d like to be interviewed as part of our research, please reach out to Robin Erickson ( or Madhura Chakrabarti ( In addition, be on the lookout for an online survey later this summer.

Bersin members can download and read the full article, Understanding Employee Experience: Onboarding. Not a Bersin member but want to know more? Visit the Bersin website. For more insights into employee experience, please see our blog series, which continues over the coming summer weeks. Bersin members should watch for our continuing articles in this series that takes a deeper look into the many aspects of the employee experience today.

Robin Erickson Robin Erickson, Vice President, Talent Acquisition Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Robin leads talent acquisition, engagement, and retention research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Recognized as a thought leader in her areas of expertise, Robin offers more than 20 years of experience, including prior experience in talent strategies consulting and research for Deloitte’s Human Capital practice. Robin led Deloitte’s global Talent 2020 longitudinal survey series and her work has appeared in several issues of Deloitte Review and in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends reports. She holds a doctoral degree in organizational communication and change, as well as a master’s in communication, from Northwestern University. Robin also has a master’s degree in theology from Northern Seminary and a bachelor of arts from the University of Chicago.

1 High-Impact Talent Acquisition 2018 research, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

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