Hrmn-onboarding

Even the smartest students need writing assistance at some point during their academic career. Should you lock yourself in a room and spend the entire weekend trying to write a paper? We promise you that the paper that you pay for won’t be resold or submitted elsewhere. It will also be written according to the instructions that you and your professor provide. Our excellent essays stand out among the rest for a reason. Don’t just take our word, check them out by yourself.


Order a Similar Paper Order a Different Paper

Please see the attached documents

– Please cite your work in your responses

– Please use APA (7th edition) formatting 

– All questions and each part of the question should be answered in detail (Go into depth)

– Response to questions must demonstrate understanding and application of concepts covered in class, 

– Use in-text citations and at LEAST 2 resources per discussion from the school materials that I provided to support all answers. 

– No grammatical errors; Complete sentences are used. Proper formatting is used. Citations are used according to APA

Lastly, Responses MUST be organized (Should be logical and easy to follow)


NEW EMPLOYEE ONBOARDING


Questions:

Discussion One:  

a. Discuss the various components of new employee onboarding, including new hire orientation. Which part do you believe to be most important and why? What is the human resource manager’s role in the employee onboarding process? What is the manager’s role?

b. How does an onboarding program benefit both new employees and the organization? In your discussion, address how effective employee onboarding can enhance employee engagement and retention.

Be sure to provide the references for the sources of the information you used including the material provided in the classroom.

 

Discussion Two:  Application

a. Discuss the consequences of an ineffective, or inadequate, onboarding program from both employee and organizational perspectives.  How can HR evaluate the success of an onboarding program? Discuss at least 3 important onboarding success metrics.

b. Evaluate the onboarding program of an organization where you are or have been employed or one you are familiar with. Do you believe it is effective in successfully integrating new employees into the organization?  Why or why not?

Be sure to provide the references for the sources of the information you used including the material provided in the classroom.

117

6

Planning Next Steps: Where Do You Go
From Here?

In This Chapter

• Achieving program sustainability
• Looking out for program roadblocks and barriers
• Exploring options for ongoing learning
• Understanding online onboarding

Program Sustainability
The previous five chapters have taken you through what you need to do to have a successful employee
onboarding program. After such an investment of time and resources, you want to ensure the long-term
sustainability of the program to benefit the business. Employee onboarding has to become part of the
company culture through consistency in delivery and communications for sustainability.

Chapter 5 introduced one of the most critical issues for the program’s long-term sustainability:
measurement and evaluation of results. Your company can only make informed decisions about the future of
the program based on compelling data presented in meaningful ways.

Onboarding program accountability is important because nothing happens in organizations if no one
assumes ownership. Powerful positive onboarding results will promote the involvement of key stakeholders
in the process and foster the participation of other employees as onboarding becomes integrated into the
company’s culture.

PRO TIP
“Nothing breeds success like success.”

—Bob Ross

Assuming program ownership also means anticipating and mitigating roadblocks.

Onboarding Sustainability Roadblocks
It’s important to watch out for roadblocks and barriers as you move forward with your program into the
future. Let’s look at a few you may run into.

C
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

2
0
1
8
.

A
s
s
o
c
i
a
t
i
o
n

F
o
r

T
a
l
e
n
t

D
e
v
e
l
o
p
m
e
n
t
.

A
l
l

r
i
g
h
t
s

r
e
s
e
r
v
e
d
.

M
a
y

n
o
t

b
e

r
e
p
r
o
d
u
c
e
d

i
n

a
n
y

f
o
r
m

w
i
t
h
o
u
t

p
e
r
m
i
s
s
i
o
n

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

p
u
b
l
i
s
h
e
r
,

e
x
c
e
p
t

f
a
i
r

u
s
e
s

p
e
r
m
i
t
t
e
d

u
n
d
e
r

U
.
S
.

o
r

a
p
p
l
i
c
a
b
l
e

c
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

l
a
w
.

EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 2/2/2022 11:30 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS
AN: 1896630 ; Davila, Norma, Pina-Ramirez, Wanda.; Effective Onboarding
Account: s4264928.main.eds

118

Change and Uncertainty
Organizational changes and uncertainty become a barrier for program sustainability because they can cause
the company infrastructure on which you based your program to disappear. Any time changes occur, the
content of your onboarding program has to reflect them, which leads to rework.

Other possibilities include program stakeholders and participants who supported the program assuming
new roles or leaving the organization on short notice. To combat these changes, it’s important to constantly
emphasize the program’s value so you maintain top management’s buy-in. Expanding your cadre of
resources who deliver the program by selecting and preparing additional facilitators will help if some of your
facilitators leave the company.

It’s important to keep all resources and stakeholders up-to-date on the latest onboarding program revisions
so that they convey the correct message to program attendees. Take additional steps to be prepared for
last-minute changes that affect the program; even though they are beyond your control, these changes could
cause a negative impression on new or new-to-role employees.

Lack of Long-Term Support
If onboarded employees aren’t supported in their role long term, it can result in employee disappointment,
which can lead to disengagement and decisions to leave the organization. Onboarding programs have to go
beyond the formal group sessions, individual meetings, and training sessions. When companies don’t set up
an infrastructure to support onboarded employees in the long run, they are more likely to feel isolated and
abandoned. Your organization can support employees without incurring extraordinary expenses by
maximizing the resources that they already have and increasing managers’ awareness of the importance of
enabling employee success. Monitor progress consistently.

First Impressions
Underestimating the power of a new employee’s first impression can make companies come across as if they
disregard their brand. Sometimes companies wrongly assume they can erase the consequences of errors or
oversights during onboarding. However, employees are very vulnerable during their first days at work
because they are undergoing a major transition. Thus, they are more likely to misinterpret cues and make
assumptions based on the limited information they are receiving because they lack points of reference and
comparison to reach their own conclusions. Give special attention to every detail to ensure that it reinforces
the brand to achieve the desired effect.

Providing an Incomplete Company Picture
Limiting the scope of involvement and participation in the onboarding program to one or two company
functions, rather than the organization as a whole, gives new employees an incomplete picture of the
company and what it values. When onboarding programs, especially general onboarding, present a limited
view of an organization’s departments and functions, employees aren’t able to appreciate the full scale of the
operation they joined. This restricts and delays potential contributions beyond their units until they can obtain
the information on their own. Individual differences in employee competencies and aptitudes may mitigate or
exacerbate the negative effects of this shortsightedness. Make onboarding inclusive across the organization.
Remember the “WOW!” effect.

Ignoring the Learning Curve
Underestimating the importance of the employee’s learning curve to meet performance standards places the
employee at a disadvantage. Onboarding allows companies to establish a level playing field for employees to
meet performance standards. Even though onboarding, especially at the role-specific level, typically shortens
the time that employees need to achieve performance standards, it is not a quick fix that will accelerate
productivity. Account for the learning curve of each position for every employee to reach the desired
performance level.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:30 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

119

Lack of Support From Managers’ Direct Reports
A manager’s direct reports will influence their success or failure in delivering results because managers work
through others. In general, it is in the direct reports’ best interest to have a successful manager. Therefore,
they will likely be aligned with the manager’s vision for the future and facilitate cultural assimilation by
providing useful insights and feedback.

However, if some of a new manager’s direct reports have a longer tenure with the company, whether they
are new to the company or to the role, any informal alliances they have forged over the years will influence
the level of support from others in the team positively or negatively. Those who were interested in the
position, but were passed over, may resent the new manager. Former peers who are now direct reports may
not understand the need to shift behaviors or may insist on maintaining a relationship that can’t exist
anymore. HR and L&D need to support the new manager in handling these issues promptly to reduce the
likelihood of long-term repercussions. The manager’s career and the business depend on their swift action.

A New Manager’s Peers
The influence of a new manager’s peers will pave the way for their smooth assimilation into the role. While
most learning and acculturation will come from experience, the new manager will need a reference group to
adopt behaviors and points of view consistent with the company culture and with the manager subculture.
This reference group can become a source of support and information about the business, its history, and its
future. They know and have gone through what it takes to perform the role. HR and L&D have to be ready to
address any potential conflicts that may arise. Internal politics always need to intervene in these interactions,
particularly if some of the new manager’s peers perceive any career threats from the new manager.

Issues With Other Employees
Other employees within the department can become the company’s cultural ambassadors, but they need
preparation to understand the role. These employees can either become a source of support for onboarded
employees or a major barrier for their success because they interact with individual contributors whether they
work at the same location or remotely. In those daily interactions, these employees transmit many of the
unwritten rules of behavior of the department and company. They can also point the onboarded employee in
the right direction to find solutions and provide introductions to start building important relationships within
and outside the department. Managers and HR have to anticipate and address any misalignments and political
issues with these employees before their actions become a major challenge for the onboarded employee, the
department, and the company.

TOOL
Use the “Onboarding Program Roadblocks Checklist,” located at the end of this chapter, to identify potential challenges that could
derail your company’s general onboarding or role-specific onboarding program.

Ongoing Learning
Onboarding is the beginning of the employee’s learning and development process in the company. Sustaining
onboarding implies sustaining employee learning through a carefully orchestrated combination of informal
and formal learning experiences that continue after the onboarding program ends.

By continuing the learning experience, you show onboarded employees that the company values them and
wants them to have the best learning experience in the organization. It also helps to encourage employees to
learn new skills, especially ones that are needed long term within the organization. An employee becomes

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:30 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

120

more engaged when they believe the company values their learning goals.
Table 6-1 lists some suggestions for development activities that employees can do to continue

strengthening their skills. They are organized by the groups of employees who would benefit the most from
them.

Table 6-1. Suggested Ongoing Development Activities by Group of Employees

Online Onboarding
Face-to-face contact in onboarding is irreplaceable. However, we understand that online onboarding is the
only option for some companies, especially for general orientation. If companies decide to put their
onboarding programs online, we have several recommendations. Companies with online onboarding
programs need to:

• Address new employees’ learning preferences.
• Include images, pictures, sound effects, and simulations.
• Maintain data and keep information up-to-date.
• Assign an owner to the process.
• Make content and delivery visually appealing.
• Ensure that the programs are truly representative of the organization.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:30 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

121

Online onboarding does have some benefits: Companies that automate their onboarding gradually diminish
their dependence on printed documents, thus reducing costs. It’s also a way to ensure a timely and steady
delivery of information when employees need it, which means they are more likely to retain the information.

In online onboarding, everything is presented in more detail because the information is
self-explanatory—so adjust the content to the media that you will use. More information is better than less
information; however, the key to avoiding overload lies in structuring the delivery of that information in
manageable chunks. Before you can create a successful online program, you’ll need to thoroughly document
everything you plan to include and create scripts—leave nothing to chance. In your scripts, speak to all the
typical concerns of new hires upon joining an organization. Repeat and reinforce key messages through
different means to make sure that they are understood. Have a plan B so that the program can continue if you
encounter any technical problems.

Avoid having to handle the following situation.

Gregory’s Story
Gregory is in charge of the company’s online onboarding program. Even though the program was initially successful, the situation
changed when the company restructured and the program’s content was not updated.

Managers and supervisors are saying that the onboarding program is useless because the information is out of date. Gregory has been
requesting the information he needs to update the program, but he has not received any responses.

The company’s online onboarding program has lost its initial effectiveness. Having support from all
stakeholders is key for the program’s success. Gregory needs to garner support from key stakeholders whose
commitment to the program will ensure that he receives the necessary information to update the material.
Keeping stakeholders informed of the program’s progress and its impact on business results will sustain the
program’s positioning as a worthy investment.

Your company may choose to leverage its available technological resources for role-specific onboarding,
such as addressing technical and regulatory content; nonetheless, managers still need to be directly involved
with their employees.

PRO TIP
If onboarding takes place online, be sure to include the program’s essential elements and make it interactive with questions, quizzes,
games, and exercises.

Next Steps, Building Relationships
To keep the program alive and strong, the key is consistency. Now you have a road map to follow to revisit
that organizational snapshot, create a compelling business case, and justify the company’s investment in the
program. You will not be starting at square one.

The lessons you learned along the way will be the most useful resources to prepare and launch the next
iteration of the program. You know what worked and what did not work to make onboarding successful. You
understand what you need to do to get management and other stakeholders involved in general and

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:30 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

122

role-specific onboarding. You have built relationships that will contribute to the success of the program and,
most important, to the success of those employees who join the company and believe in what it stands for.
You appreciate the value of measuring and evaluating. Onboarding is ongoing.

Questions to Explore
• How do you plan to use what you learned from your program’s evaluation to sustain the program?
• How will you handle any organizational changes that may have an impact on the onboarding

program?
• Do you have a pool of potential facilitators ready if any current facilitators go elsewhere?
• What is the biggest enabler to onboarding in your company? How will you leverage company

resources to optimize them?
• What are the biggest barriers to onboarding in your company? How do you plan to overcome them?
• What elements of online onboarding would be useful to your company? Where would you start?
• What can you do to make a case for the potential benefits of automating some components of your

onboarding program?
• Are you ready for the challenge of sustaining the program?

Tools for Support

Onboarding Program Roadblocks Checklist
Use this checklist for the general onboarding program and role-specific onboarding programs by department.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:30 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

123

Additional Resources
Ellis, R. 2016. “How to Craft Onboarding That Has Staying Power.” ATD Insights, March 7. www.td.org/insights/how-to-craft

.-onboarding-that-has-staying-power

Ferrazzi, K. 2015. “Technology Can Save Onboarding From Itself.” March 25. Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2015/03
./technology-can-save-onboarding-from-itself

Hirsch, A.S. 2017. “Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Good Onboarding.” Society for Human Resources Management, August 10.
.www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/dont-underestimate-the-importance-of-effective-onboarding.aspx

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:30 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

124

PwC. 2016. PWC Financial Services, December. The Future of Onboarding. www.pwc.com/il/he/bankim/assets/pwc-the-future-of
.-onboarding.pdf

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:30 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

96

A

5

Transferring Learning and Evaluating
Results: How Do You Demonstrate Success?

In This Chapter

• Value of measurement and evaluation in onboarding
• Understanding metrics, measurement, and evaluation
• Benefits of evaluating onboarding programs
• Communicating results

n onboarding program’s implementation is not complete without a measurement and evaluation
component that reflects the Kirkpatrick model for evaluation and the Phillips model for metrics and
ROI. Like any business process, onboarding programs require consistent measurement and reporting.
However, according to the by HR Daily Advisor2017 Strategic Onboarding Survey Report

Research, 45 percent of survey participants did not evaluate their onboarding programs. In another study
conducted by Kronos and the Human Capital Institute, 55 percent of companies reported that they lacked the
tools to measure the effectiveness of their onboarding programs (Filipkowski, Heinsch, and Wiete 2017).

According to Deloitte’s only 22 percent of HR professionalsGlobal Human Capital Trends Study 2015,
have the data, business skill set, and mindset necessary for business success. Deloitte goes further to state that
even the most data-knowledgeable HR teams may not be conversant about their company’s financial and
business strategy, or able to articulate the value of programs, plans, and decisions that they make for
employees in business terms.

This book has built a case for how onboarding starts with the recruitment and selection process. Now we’ll
take you through the evaluation process for your onboarding program. Certainly, the best candidates, whether
new to the company or new to the role, call for the best onboarding program that the company can provide to
connect and stay connected with them. Thus, onboarding, even though many of its components rely on
checklists to ensure task completion, is more than a checklist.

But how is the completion of checklists related to the program’s evaluation? How do checklists make a
difference? They are one way, among others, for organizations to calculate return on investment, confirm
they retain talent, document lower turnover rates, and assess revenue levels as a result of onboarding.

PRO TIP
The best way to link the results of your onboarding program to business results is by establishing relationships between business and

C
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

2
0
1
8
.

A
s
s
o
c
i
a
t
i
o
n

F
o
r

T
a
l
e
n
t

D
e
v
e
l
o
p
m
e
n
t
.

A
l
l

r
i
g
h
t
s

r
e
s
e
r
v
e
d
.

M
a
y

n
o
t

b
e

r
e
p
r
o
d
u
c
e
d

i
n

a
n
y

f
o
r
m

w
i
t
h
o
u
t

p
e
r
m
i
s
s
i
o
n

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

p
u
b
l
i
s
h
e
r
,

e
x
c
e
p
t

f
a
i
r

u
s
e
s

p
e
r
m
i
t
t
e
d

u
n
d
e
r

U
.
S
.

o
r

a
p
p
l
i
c
a
b
l
e

c
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

l
a
w
.

EBSCO Publishing : eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS
AN: 1896630 ; Davila, Norma, Pina-Ramirez, Wanda.; Effective Onboarding
Account: s4264928.main.eds

97

HR metrics, such as employee turnover and employee engagement.

Employee engagement is a measure tied to business results that has to be carefully monitored throughout
onboarding and afterward. According to Kevin Sheridan (2012) in the 10 mainBuilding a Magnetic Culture,
drivers for early engagement by new hires are:

• career development
• strategy and mission
• job content
• availability of resources to perform the job effectively
• senior management’s relationship with employees
• recognition
• direct supervisor or manager leadership abilities
• open and effective communication
• co-worker satisfaction and cooperation
• organizational culture.

These engagement drivers have all been addressed throughout the onboarding process we have discussed.
They will have an impact on employee retention, which is the main company concern after employee
selection.

RESOURCE
In we discuss the entire employee engagementCutting Through the Noise: The Right Employee Engagement Strategies for You,
process, provide various tools to foster employee engagement, and link engagement to business results (Dávila and Piña-Ramírez
2013).

Here’s an example of a missed opportunity for early engagement:

Pandora’s Story
Pandora is the human resources generalist in charge of the general onboarding program for a chain of mass-market household goods
retail stores. Three years ago, her company selected an off-the-shelf web-based program and customized it to address the company’s
basic history, mission, vision, and values. Information about employee benefits, general company policies and practices, and the
employee handbook are also included in this program, which takes about eight hours to complete. Short videos about the importance
of employee engagement are included, but the stories and characters in these videos are not representative of the employee
population at the stores.

When Pandora presented the last turnover data report to senior management, some questioned why cashiers were leaving before
completing their first year with the company. Their exits cost about $3,000 per cashier in resources such as hiring time, HR staff
time, job posting fees, and interviewing time, plus employee time spent on the online program. There were also overtime costs
incurred by those cashiers who covered the shifts for new employees who were not yet proficient at their jobs. In addition, employee
engagement scores for the cashiers’ group were at historically low levels. The district manager said that the problem was that new
employees were disappointed because there was no onboarding.

Pandora became defensive, immediately responding that they had an online onboarding program. She placed the blame on managers
and supervisors who did not follow up on the program and left cashiers alone to do their work soon after they received training.
Senior managers did not agree with Pandora and requested action. They wanted a cost-effective onboarding program that would
reduce the time cashiers needed to become proficient at their jobs.

When Pandora reviewed exit interview data she found employee comments about not having the information and tools needed to do
their jobs. She also found that employees were not completing the online onboarding process. She knew that this information would
not satisfy the senior managers. Instead, she needed to explain the costs of onboarding versus the costs of replacing employees and

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

98

be proactive about measuring the program’s financial impact to get senior managers’ attention and support.

The Value of Measurement and Evaluation in Onboarding
Because onboarding continues after employee orientation ends, companies can measure its impact along the
way and establish clear connections with employee performance. Let’s meet Ylde.

Ylde’s Story
Ylde received a disciplinary action after four weeks on the job for not following the company’s email policy. Víctor, Ylde’s
supervisor and the policy writer, indicated that Ylde was using company property for personal purposes during working hours, which
was not allowed.

Ylde argued that in his previous job employees were allowed to use company email for some personal purposes. He said that he had
not received information about the policy during what he believed was his role-specific onboarding, and he was simply following
what everybody else was doing.

Yadira, the human resources generalist assigned to his business unit, confirmed that Víctor had reduced Ylde’s onboarding and that
Ylde had never signed the employee handbook acknowledgment in the system. Further, Víctor had not given Ylde any role-specific
onboarding or met with him except to give him the policy memo.

With the negative impact of such an oversight on the business, companies cannot afford to wait until a
disciplinary action comes up to find out that employee onboarding was not conducted properly. Situations
such as Ylde’s highlight the importance of measuring, tracking, and evaluating onboarding programs.

Some statistics will help clarify the importance of evaluation. According to a report by Talya Bauer for the
SHRM Foundation in 2010, more than 25 percent of employees experience career transitions each year, 50
percent of hourly workers leave during their first four months of employment, and 50 percent of senior
outside hires fail at their jobs within 18 months. Roy Maurer, writing for SHRM in 2015, reported similar
trends. Of about a thousand respondents to a 2014 survey by BambooHR, “[a]bout one third of new hires
who had quit said they’d barely had any onboarding or none at all and 15 percent of respondents noted that
lack of an effective onboarding program contributed to their decision to quit.”

These percentages represent a significant impact on the company’s bottom line. But, what should you
measure?

In business, what gets measured is what receives attention and is valuable. New employees are an
important investment for the future of the company—the average cost per hire is $4,129 (SHRM 2016) and
that becomes much higher for executives. In addition, replacement costs can equal as much as twice an
employee’s annual salary (Maurer 2015). This investment demands a carefully planned measurement and
evaluation process. Evaluations also provide information about what worked well and what did not, as well
as the perceptions of what is being done to make future onboarding program implementations more effective.

Metrics and evaluation provide the information you need to champion change in your organization, and
your findings will demonstrate your company’s competitive position, particularly if you compare data from
before and after implementing the onboarding program. Most businesses are well served by the metrics
they’ve already collected for other purposes—such as turnover rate, employee retention, and transaction
rates—when they evaluate their onboarding programs.

As programs become more linked to business strategy, conversations about why companies invest, how
they invest, and what return they get on their investment become part of the day-to-day operations. Numbers
say it all. Measure what you can control.

Metrics, Measurement, and Evaluation
In our practice we still find many professionals using the terms and metrics, measurement, evaluation
interchangeably. Let’s define what we mean by these terms within the context of evaluating onboarding
program results:

• refers to standards of performance and progress, also known as key performance indicatorsMetrics

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

99

(KPIs), that can be quantified, such as net sales, revenue growth, employee turnover, and recruitment
costs.

• pertains to the actual process of assigning value to those metrics, such as calculatingMeasurement
onboarding costs, obtaining employee time to productivity, and assigning performance ratings.

• involves analyzing and making judgments about information obtained through formativeEvaluation
(sequentially over a period of time) or summative (at the end of the process or program)
measurement.

There are many benefits of measuring and evaluating onboarding programs, including:
• obtaining consistent information to compare over time to track the impact of the program (for

example, how long are employees staying with the company)
• quantifying the scope of the challenge and costs to justify current and future investments in

onboarding
• collecting a baseline against which to compare progress and sustain buy-in as the business determines

how onboarding is affecting its bottom line (for example, reduction in time to productivity)
• comparing the results of your company’s program with those of other companies when publicly

available (for example, a reduction in the number of accidents and errors)
• addressing any affirmative action issues as you document profiles of participants across program

components
• determining how the program contributes to the business so the company can set priorities
• giving a real sense of the importance of onboarding programs for the business, so that decision makers

see its value through data.

PRO TIP
When you focus on business outcomes, be sure to consider performance rather than just activity.

RESOURCE
“How to Measure the Return on Your HR Investment: Using ROI to Demonstrate Business Impact” by Jack and Patti Phillips (2002)
provides foundation about ROI you can use for your program. This creates a structure to measure results based on a proven
approach.

One way to increase management’s awareness of the importance of measurement and evaluation is to
highlight the actual costs of onboarding programs and the potential costs if they are not done correctly. In
addition to the straight costs of onboarding an employee, companies need to look at other hidden costs when
considering associated recruitment costs, such as the cost of losing the best candidate for a position due to an
inappropriate onboarding program.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

100

PRO TIP
According to a survey from Korn Ferry (2017), 90 percent of responding executives said they believed onboarding programs were
key to retaining employees. The majority of those surveyed stated that between 10 and 25 percent of new hires leave within their
first six months of employment.

Measures and Indicators
Use a variety of measures and indicators for each onboarding component, such as those shown in , Tables 5-1

, and . Remember to start with metrics that are already available. If you try to collect every single one,5-2 5-3
especially if you do so simultaneously, it could be confusing and difficult to sustain.

PRO TIP
Gather feedback from onboarding participants using surveys, interviews, focus groups, follow-up sessions, questionnaires, and
on-the-job observations. It is best to collect information from different sources so that you can compare results to identify and track
trends.

Table 5-1. Suggested Metrics for Onboarding Programs: Pre-Onboarding

Metrics What to Collect Owner

Recruitment Metrics • Number of applicants
• Number of applicants interviewed
• Number of offers extended
• Number of offers accepted
• Time to hire
• Time to start

Human Resources

Interview Costs • Time costs for all participants
• Materials, travel, and meal costs (usually for executives or

highly specialized job offers)

Human Resources

Testing Costs • Costs of administering skills, personality, competency,
knowledge, and drug tests if applicable

Learning and
Development

Human Resources

Welcome Packet Costs • Costs of design, printing, and copies of materials
• Costs of promotional materials to reinforce brand

Learning and
Development

Marketing and
Communications

Communications Costs • Costs of announcement design, printing, display about new
or new-to-role employees

• Frequently asked questions for staff

Human Resources,
Learning and
Development, and
Communications

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

101

Staff Time • Preparation for pre-onboarding phase according to role
• Participation in pre-onboarding phase according to role

Various Departments

Table 5-2. Suggested Metrics for Onboarding Programs: General Onboarding

Metrics What to Collect Owner

Orientation Material Costs • Design, printing, and copies of materials
• Promotional materials to reinforce brand

Learning and
Development

Computer Room Use • Rental or use of computer training rooms
• Costs of technical support staff

Learning and
Development

Information Systems

Facilitator’s Preparation • Time for facilitators to review content and get ready for
orientation

• Costs of training subject matter experts as facilitators

Learning and
Development

Facilitator Time • Time to deliver content and general orientation Various Departments
(including L&D)

Participant Evaluation Forms • Form design, printing, and tabulation
• Design and tabulation in electronic form (if available)

Learning and
Development

New Employee Satisfaction • Survey design and administration in paper or electronic form Learning and
Development

Rate of Compliance With
Legal Issues

• Documentation requirements
• Time worked reported
• Overtime rules
• Progressive discipline process
• Mandatory training

Human Resources

Retention Rates • Number of employees who stay after 30, 60, or 90 days, and
one year

Human Resources

Turnover Rates • Number of employees who leave the company after 30, 60,
or 90 days, and one year

Human Resources

TOOL
Get participant feedback by adapting the “Evaluation Forms” at the end of this chapter. Use the orientation feedback form to get new
and new-to-role employee input about the orientation. After employees have been onboarded, have them fill out onboarding
feedback forms at 30 and 90 days.

Table 5-3. Suggested Metrics for Onboarding Programs: Role-Specific Onboarding

Metrics What to Collect Owner

Onboarding Costs • Meetings and special sessions
• Role-specific training
• Travel
• Meals
• Team activities
• Targeted materials
• Workspace set up at the department level

Learning and
Development

Departments and Units
Involved

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

102

Time to Productivity vs.
Average Tenured Employee

• Amount of time it takes employees to perform at comparable
level of those of average tenure

Departments and Units

Check-In With Manager at 30
Days

• Role understanding
• Alignment between role and employee expectations
• Suggestions to improve onboarding

Learning and
Development

Check-In With Manager at 60
Days

• Enablers and barriers for success
• Resources that have been the most and least helpful
• Ability to meet manager’s expectations
• Sense of accomplishment

Learning and
Development

Check-In With Manager at 90
Days

• Enablers and barriers for success
• Resources that have been the most and least helpful
• Ability to meet manager’s expectations
• Sense of accomplishment

Learning and
Development

Annual Performance Review • Results of performance review and evaluation Managers Human
Resources

Employee Engagement • Engagement results for employees with one year or less of
tenure

Learning and
Development

Employee Onboarding
Satisfaction

• Satisfaction with entire onboarding program, measured either
by phase or at the end

Learning and
Development

Manager Onboarding
Satisfaction

• Satisfaction with entire onboarding program, measured either
by phase or at the end

Learning and
Development

Customer Satisfaction • Satisfaction of internal and external customers with services
provided by new or new-to-role employee

Learning and
Development

Productivity after 30, 60, and
90 days

• Department’s indicators of productivity Department or Unit

Exit Interview • Information about why employees leave the company Human Resources

Stay Interviews • Information about what makes an employee stay in the
company

Learning and
Development

TOOL
A simple survey, such as the “Sample Onboarding Survey” included at the end of this chapter, can provide useful information
without overburdening participants. Include an email to introduce the request to complete the survey.

The following formulas will help you calculate some of the most commonly used metrics to evaluate your
onboarding program.

Turnover Rate
The turnover rate tells you how many employees left the company. You need to be alert for any changes in
turnover rates because of the cost that turnover represents for the business.

To calculate employee turnover rates, select the timeframe (for example, one year), divide the number of
employee separations by the average number of active employees during that timeframe, then multiply by
100.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

103

Retention Rates
The retention rate tells you how many employees stayed in the company.

To calculate the retention rate, which is a percentage, select the end of the timeframe (for example, one
year), divide the total number of employees still employed at the start of the time period, then multiply this
number by 100.

Average Time to Fill
The average time to fill refers to the ratio between how many days positions are open and the total number of
positions open. To calculate the average time to fill, divide the total number of days that positions are open
by the total number of positions open.

Cost per Hire
The cost per hire considers the external and internal costs related to bringing a new employee into the
company, to determine the average cost to hire a new employee. To calculate cost per hire, divide the total of
all external costs by the total of all internal costs, then multiply by 100.

PRO TIP
Find out which metrics are more appealing to your stakeholders, such as cost of hiring, time to productivity, time to hire, or results of
exit interviews. Stakeholders will be more receptive to metrics that track costs and productivity.

Check-Ins and Interviews
Managers should check in with new and new-to-role employees periodically to make sure their needs are
being met and to gather feedback about the onboarding process. In addition, exit and stay interviews also give
you valuable information for your onboarding program’s evaluation.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

104

TOOL
The “Manager’s Check-In Meeting Guides,” located at the end of this chapter, provide questions for managers to use after the
employee’s first 30, 60, and 90 days, to identify additional employee needs and gather feedback about the onboarding process.

Exit Interviews
Conduct exit interviews when employees are leaving the company to learn about their employment
experience. Look for trends in the data and track them over time to see how they change. HR usually handles
exit interviews using different methods, which have their own advantages and disadvantages ( ); askTable 5-4
them for the data if you are from another business function. You can use this information to prospectively
target issues related to recruitment, selection, and onboarding.

Table 5-4. Advantages and Disadvantages of Exit Interview Methods

Method Advantage Disadvantage

In Person by HR • Get more information
• Give a personal touch

• Employee concerns about confidentiality
• May be too time consuming
• Easy to lose information if not documented

Telephone Exit
Interviews by HR
or External
Consultants

• Probe for information in each question
• Enter data in the HR system as it is collected
• Easier to schedule

• Time consuming
• Expensive if conducted by outside consultants
• Employee may resist sharing negative

information

Paper and Pencil
Surveys

• Takes less time to complete than interviews
• Employees may share more information than in

interviews

• Time consuming to collect and tabulate data
• Individual handwriting may be difficult to read

and interpret

Online Exit
Interview
Management
Systems

• Easy to administer
• Information is automatically tracked and

compiled
• Reports are easily available
• Higher participation rates than interviews

• Employees may find it impersonal
• Participants may use the system to vent
• Level of skills in using system may influence

level of detail in responses

TOOL
Use the “Guide for Exit Interviews,” located at the end of this chapter, to pick and choose questions to use.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

105

Stay Interviews
Conduct stay interviews or surveys to find out why employees stay with the company. Ask how your
company’s onboarding contributed to their decision to stay. These are questions that managers ask, so
provide a tool that is structured and easy to use in a conversational manner. By doing so, you will increase
the likelihood that they meet with their employees to discuss these issues and get the information you need to
make more informed decisions about what to continue doing in your company’s onboarding program and
what you should stop doing.

With all the data that you have already collected and converted into meaningful information, you are ready
for the next step: communicating the results to inform future actions about your company’s onboarding
program.

TOOL
Use the “Guide for Stay Interviews,” located at the end of this chapter, to gather valuable information about why employees want to
stay in the company and its relationship with onboarding.

Communicating Evaluation Results
Communicating results is key to the sustainability of the program because when management and other
stakeholders understand the value of onboarding, they become committed to the program. Some benefits of
communicating evaluation results include credibility for the program, the opportunity to make program
improvements or changes, and the ability to share the program’s successes with others, which will include
how onboarding affects business outcomes.

Before selecting which metrics you will communicate, identify how you will get the information (refer
back to , , and ). Then, decide who will receive the results (for example, the company’s topTables 5-1 5-2 5-3
management, the board of directors, or the business owners).

You need to determine the best spokesperson for the communications—you need someone who can
influence others about the value of metrics and evaluation and turn them into onboarding champions. You
also need to find out who won’t support the measurement and evaluation process so you can anticipate their
needs as you guide them to becoming program advocates. As always, speak the language of your audience
and the business while establishing connections between those metrics and the business objectives and
strategy.

TOOL
The “Structure for Evaluation Report and Presentation,” located at the end of this chapter, provides a starting point for your
communication.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

106

PRO TIP
When you organize your findings for your audience, connect your data to monetary data. Consider what’s most relevant for the
audience regardless of whether it is positive (for example, increases in revenue) or negative (for example, decrease in customer
service satisfaction indices). Introducing department business results before and after the onboarding program will get the attention
of senior managers.

As you plan how to communicate results, ask yourself the following questions:
• This question defines the content of the communications and shouldWhat will you communicate?

be answered with a specific timeframe in mind. For instance, will you report orientation evaluation
results or stay interview results? Will you discuss increases in cost per hire or changes in turnover?

• This question refers to the format that you use toHow will the information be communicated?
convey the information. For instance, orientation evaluation results are best suited for tables or
graphs, while stay interview results are usually summarized using a bulleted list organized by topics.
Increases in cost per hire or changes in turnover can be presented using tables or graphs, depending
on audience preferences.

• This question requires some homework to align what the audience expectsWhat are they expecting?
with what you can provide. For instance, are they expecting a presentation or a group discussion? Are
they expecting to receive the information before the meeting so that they can ask questions? How
much time will they have and what is their average attention span? Do they understand the scope of
your evaluation? Are they expecting an analysis of trends and recommendations? Always anticipate
their needs as much as you can to sustain the buy-in you obtained with your business case.

• This question targets the best person to convey theWho will communicate the information?
message to your target audience to get the desired effect. In general, employees prefer to receive
information that affects them directly from their immediate supervisors and managers; however, they
prefer to receive general information about the business from top management. Executives and boards
of directors prefer to hear presentations from a senior professional or leader for decision making.

• You will focus your entire communication plan based on yourWho is your target audience?
audience. Even though the general message may be the same, the level of detail you present and the
complexity you include will depend significantly on the audience. For instance, senior management
and boards of directors will be more interested in financials, while managers and supervisors will be
more interested in examples and quotes from surveys and interviews. More general employee
audiences will want to see how they are contributing to the success of the program in specific terms.

PRO TIP
Align the tactics you use to communicate with your company’s culture. Use quantitative methods and qualitative methods. Be formal
or informal depending on your company’s way of doing business.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

107

Make Measuring a Practice
Measurement and evaluation of onboarding programs must become a common business practice. Companies
need to be consistent in what and how they measure the year-over-year impact of the changes on methods,
processes, revenue, and other business outcomes from onboarding programs. Measure the right things to keep
programs fresh and employees engaged.

In the next chapter, we discuss what you need to consider to ensure the sustainability of your program.

Questions to Explore
• What evaluation methods are you most comfortable using?
• Why should your company evaluate its onboarding program?
• What would you measure and evaluate in your company’s onboarding program?
• How will your company connect the results of its onboarding program to its business results?
• How do you identify what you need to measure in your onboarding program?
• Do your company’s stakeholders differentiate between metrics, measurement, and evaluation?
• What benefits do you see in evaluating your onboarding program?
• Which measures or indicators will you use to evaluate the pre-onboarding? General onboarding?

Role-specific onboarding?
• Does your company check in on the progress of onboarded employees before the end of their first

year? If yes, how? What can you do differently?
• How do you monitor the support that the buddy/mentor/coach gives the onboarded employee?
• How will you communicate the results of your onboarding program’s evaluation?

Tools for Support

Evaluation Forms
Adapt these evaluation forms to help evaluate different stages of the onboarding program. Here you’ll find an
orientation evaluation form for employees to fill out, as well as 30 and 90 day feedback forms for employees
to complete.

Orientation Feedback Form

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

108

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

109

30-Day Onboarding Feedback

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

110

90-Day Onboarding Feedback

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

111 EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

112

Sample Onboarding Survey
Use an onboarding survey to gain useful information without overburdening participants. Adapt the sample to
work for your program.

To help us improve our onboarding program, please answer the following questions.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

113 EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

114

Sample Email to Accompany the Onboarding Survey
Adapt this sample email to send with your survey request.

To: New Employee

Cc:

Bcc:

Subject: Onboarding Survey

Dear ,[Employee Name]

We hope that your first 30 days of employment have been a positive and rewarding experience.

To help us ensure a successful onboarding experience, please complete a quick online survey. The survey will take
less than 10 minutes to complete and the information will be used to improve our program.

Open the following link: .www.OnboardingSurvey.com

We look forward to your comments. Thank you for your feedback.

Manager’s Check-In Meeting Guides
The following are sample questions managers can use to guide 30-, 60-, and 90-day check-in meetings with
their onboarded employees.

30 Days
• So far, is the job what you expected it to be? How challenged are you feeling?
• Do you have a good understanding of your role? Why or why not?
• Do you have the information, tools, and resources for success?
• How comfortable are you with the company in general? What about with your department?
• What challenges are you expecting in your job? How do you envision me assisting you with them?
• Do you already feel productive and effective in your role? Why or why not?
• Can you give me examples of learning experiences that would contribute to your success?
• How are things going with your buddy or mentor?
• Are you receiving the feedback and support you need from me?
• How has the onboarding program helped you reach your milestones?

60 and 90 Days
• What areas, tasks, or projects are you enjoying the most within your position?
• What competencies and skills have you acquired or strengthened since you started in your position?

Which would you like to develop or strengthen?
• What are you not enjoying as much about your job? Can you share why? What barriers are you

encountering?
• How is your onboarding going? What have been the most and least beneficial components?

Guide for Exit Interviews
Use the following questions to gather valuable information about the employee’s experience. The questions
are grouped into two categories: those for employees who’ve been with the company for less than a year and
those for employees who stayed for longer than a year.

If the employee leaves before the first year of employment, ask:
• Were the duties and demands of your job described accurately during the interview or onboarding

processes?

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

115

• Did you participate in role-specific onboarding for your function?
• How would you assess the quality of your general onboarding? How about your role-specific

onboarding?
• Were your expectations about your job met? If yes, how? If no, why?
• What improvements can you suggest to the organization in terms of recruitment, selection,

onboarding, your division, your department, and your job?

If the employee leaves after the first year of employment, ask:
• What was the biggest factor that led you to accept the new job or position?
• What did you like most and least about your job?
• How would you describe the culture of our company?
• If you could change anything about your job or the company, what would it be?
• Management is often a key factor in an employee’s decision to leave a company. Were you satisfied

with the way you were managed?
• How can our company improve its training and development program?
• What skills and qualifications do you think we need to look for in your replacement?
• Would you consider returning to work here in the future? In what area or function would you consider

working?
• What could we do to improve?
• Are there any other issues that you would like us to address?
• What other comments can you share?

Guide for Stay Interviews
Use these questions during stay interviews to learn why employees want to stay in the company and if that
was influenced by their onboarding experience.

• What do you look forward to when you come to work?
• What do you like most or least about working here?
• What keeps you working here?
• If you could change something about your job, what would that be?
• What would make your job more satisfying?
• Can you mention the most challenging aspects of your current job situation?
• Do you feel fully utilized in your current role? What talents are you not using?
• What would you like to learn here?
• What motivates (or demotivates) you?
• What can we do to support you?
• What can I do more of or less of as your manager?
• Have you ever thought about leaving the company? If so, why? Why did you decide to stay?

Structure for Evaluation Report and Presentation
Use this list as a starting point to collect and organize information for your evaluation report.

• brief overview of the onboarding programProgram description:
• the activities that you completed (such as interviews, surveys, and focus groups)What you did:
• how many and from which groups, but don’t identify specific individualsWho participated:
• an example of the guiding questions or surveyQuestions:
• shown in tabular, graphic, or other appropriate format, based on the data and audienceResults:
• analysis of the results and trends if applicableFindings and trends:
• what you propose the company should do with this informationRecommendations and next steps:

and your requests for the onboarding program

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

116

Additional Resources
Bailey, A. n.d. The Kirkpatrick/Phillips Model for Evaluating Human Resource Development and Training. www.buscouncil.ca

./busgurus/media/pdf/the-kirkpatrick-phillips-evaluation-model-en.pdf

Bauer, T.N. 2010. Alexandria, VA: Society for Human Resource ManagementOnboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success.
Foundation.

Bradt, G.B., J.A. Check, and J.A. Lawler. 2016. The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build or Merge Your
4th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Team, and Get Immediate Results,

Bradt, G.B., J.A. Check, and J.E. Pedraza. 2009. The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: An Onboarding Process for Leaders at Every
2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Level,

Dávila, N., and W. Piña-Ramírez. 2013. Alexandria,Cutting Through the Noise: The Right Employee Engagement Strategies for You.
VA: ASTD Press.

Eckerson, W.W. 2009. “Performance Management Strategies: Understanding KPIs.” KPI Components, August 1. https://tdwi.org
./articles/2009/08/01/performance-management-strategies-understanding-kpis.aspx

Filipkowski, J., M.F. Heinsch, and A. Wiete. 2017. Signature Series: AnNew Hire Momentum: Driving the Onboarding Experience.
HCI Insight Partnership. .www.hci.org/files/field_content_file/2017%20Kronos_0.pdf

Fitz-enz, J., and B. Edison. 2002. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.How to Measure Human Resource Management,

HR Daily Advisor. 2017. Silkroad. .2017 Strategic Onboarding Survey Report. http://hr1.silkroad.com/strategic-onboarding-survey

Korn Ferry. 2017. “Korn Ferry Futurestep Survey: 90 Percent of Executives Say New Hire Retention an Issue.” Korn Ferry press
release, March 21. .www.kornferry.com/press/korn-ferry-futurestep-survey-90-percent-of-executives-say-new-hire-retention-an-issue

Lauby, S. 2017. “Interview: Dr. Jac Fitz-enz on Human Capital Metrics.” HR Bartender, September 10. www.hrbartender.com/2017
./strategy-planning/jac-fitz-enz-human-capital-metrics

Maurer, R. 2015. “Onboarding Key to Retaining, Engaging Talent.” Society for Human Resource Management, April 16. www.shrm.org
./resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/onboarding-key-retaining-engaging-talent.aspx

———. 2018. “Employers Risk Driving New Hires Away With Poor Onboarding.” Society for Human Resource Management, February
23. .www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/employers-new-hires-poor-onboarding.aspx

Meister, J.C., and K. Willyerd. 2010. The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s
New York: Harper Business.Employees Today.

Murphy, M. 2012. Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting Star Performers With Both Tremendous Skills and
New York: McGraw-Hill.Superb Attitude.

Peterson, A. 2016. “The Hidden Costs of Onboarding a New Employee.” Glassdoor, September 7. https://glassdoor.com/employers/blog
./hidden-costs-employee-onboarding-reduce

Phillips, J.J., and P.P. Phillips. 2002. “How to Measure the Return on Your HR Investment: Using ROI to Demonstrate Business
Impact.” 1(4).Strategic HR Review

Phillips, J.J., P.P. Phillips, and K. Smith. 2016. 2ndAccountability in Human Resources Management: Connecting to Business Results,
ed. New York: Routledge.

Sheridan, K. 2012. Building a Magnetic Culture: How to Attract and Retain Top Talent to Create an Engaged, Productive Workforce.
New York: McGraw-Hill.

SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). 2016. “Average Cost per Hire for Companies Is $4,129, SHRM Survey Finds.”
SHRM press release, August 3. .www.shrm.org/about-shrm/press-room/press-releases/pages/human-capital-benchmarking-report.aspx

Sullivan, J. 2002. Peterborough, NH: Kennedy Information.HR Metrics the World Class Way.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:31 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

11

T

1

Getting Started: What Is Onboarding?

In This Chapter

• Defining onboarding
• Clarifying the differences between orientation and onboarding
• Importance of onboarding
• Stakeholders of onboarding

alent development professionals sometimes tell us that new employees complain about not getting the
resources they need to succeed or that their expectations did not match the reality of the organization.
Others have said that new employees left their organizations because they were confused about what
they needed to do. We also hear complaints from managers about new employees not being the right

fit or not being capable enough for the challenge that they were expected to meet. What went wrong? These
employees probably never went through the right onboarding, or there was a mismatch between the
onboarding program and their reality.

What Is Employee Onboarding?
Employee onboarding is the process through which companies engage new employees or new-to-role
employees in the company’s culture and with their role. This process is designed to ease the movement of
employees through the organizational threshold to become productive contributors and team members in the
least possible time. Onboarding’s influence on employee performance is company-wide. Therefore, it is
directly connected to business outcomes and warrants a sizeable investment in resources.

Onboarding has two distinct yet complementary components: general onboarding and role-specific
onboarding. General onboarding is more prevalent than role-specific onboarding.

• introduces the employee to the company’s culture (how things are done) byGeneral onboarding
establishing commonalities among all employees regardless of position, such as hourly employees,
individual contributors, or managers. For instance, the company’s history, vision, mission, and values,
as well as overall policies, procedures, and dos and don’ts are relevant to everyone. Specialized
training sessions required for all employees, such as how to complete human resources transactions or
fill out a timesheet, are also part of general onboarding. This component of the process establishes the
ground rules to engage newcomers with the workplace.

• entails a uniquely tailored process for each position in the companyRole-specific onboarding
because it seeks assimilation of the new or new-to-role employee into the nuances of the department’s
or unit’s culture. This component helps the employees acquire the knowledge, skills, and behaviors
they need to master the role effectively and efficiently and feel at ease performing at the expected
levels in the shortest possible timeframe. Regardless of industry or company size, activities are highly
individualized for each position and require a transfer of knowledge from the learning and
development function to the manager or immediate supervisor, who will lead the process from that
point.

C
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

2
0
1
8
.

A
s
s
o
c
i
a
t
i
o
n

F
o
r

T
a
l
e
n
t

D
e
v
e
l
o
p
m
e
n
t
.

A
l
l

r
i
g
h
t
s

r
e
s
e
r
v
e
d
.

M
a
y

n
o
t

b
e

r
e
p
r
o
d
u
c
e
d

i
n

a
n
y

f
o
r
m

w
i
t
h
o
u
t

p
e
r
m
i
s
s
i
o
n

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

p
u
b
l
i
s
h
e
r
,

e
x
c
e
p
t

f
a
i
r

u
s
e
s

p
e
r
m
i
t
t
e
d

u
n
d
e
r

U
.
S
.

o
r

a
p
p
l
i
c
a
b
l
e

c
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

l
a
w
.

EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS
AN: 1896630 ; Davila, Norma, Pina-Ramirez, Wanda.; Effective Onboarding
Account: s4264928.main.eds

12

Origins of Onboarding Programs
As organizations and jobs became more complex, businesses realized that they needed to provide a starting
point for their employees, whether new to the company or new to their roles, to perform their jobs.
Companies began experimenting with different practices until they found what seemed to be effective for
them. Some based those practices on organizational socialization approaches, which, according to Georgia T.
Chao (2012), is “a learning and adjustment process that enables an individual to assume an organizational
role that fits both organizational and individual needs.” In other words, it is what the company does to help a
new employee acquire the required behaviors to succeed within the company and adjust to its culture and
their role in it.

The preferences of the company’s country of origin may also influence how companies refer to activities
such as new hire training, new employee assimilation, employee adjustment, or employee induction.
However, is the most commonly used and accepted way in businesses to refer to these processesonboarding
today.

PRO TIP
Make sure that managers know the difference between socialization into the organization and socializing in the organization.

Differences Between Employee Orientation and Employee Onboarding
Orientation and onboarding jointly set the stage for the journey across the employee life cycle. One is the
beginning of the other, and both create that fundamental first impression. You need to make onboarding
matter, regardless of the type and size of your business. Employee orientation should be part of the employee
onboarding process ( ).Figure 1-1

Figure 1-1. Relationship Between Employee Orientation and Role-Specific Onboarding

The following two examples illustrate the differences between employee orientation and employee
onboarding.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

13

Marcia’s Story
Marcia joined the sales team of a major telecommunications corporation after having a successful career as a sales representative for
a global pharmaceutical manufacturing company. She has seven years of experience in direct sales and was enticed by the challenge
of starting in a new industry. Her new employer has a solid reputation for its customer service approach and high-quality products.
Marcia eagerly accepted the offer, which included a significant salary increase and benefits.

Marcia arrived at the company’s main office ready to start the next stage of her career. To her surprise, her new manager was out of
town. After she waited in the lobby for about an hour, the human resources representative who recruited her brought the paperwork
she needed to complete before she could start. Marcia spent about two hours reading and signing documents. When it was time for
lunch, someone told her to go find something to eat on her own. When she returned, she attended a four-hour group session, where
she heard several talks about the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the rules that all employees needed to follow. At
the end of the session, she received an employee handbook and information about company policies. She was also told to report to a
general sales training the following morning.

The telecommunications company did not provide onboarding; they only provided a general orientation. Marcia felt lost.

Justin’s Story
Justin accepted an offer to become supervisor of a consumer credit call center. Justin had previously worked as a call center
supervisor for a medical insurance company. His new job requires him to supervise a team of 35 employees who collect payments
from customers or obtain commitments to pay. Justin learned as much as he could about his new company from its website and
industry-related publications as well as from the interview process, where someone was always ready to answer his questions. He
completed all the paperwork related to his new position before his first day.

When Justin arrived at his new workplace, the receptionist greeted him by name and so did other employees who happened to be
there. His manager introduced Justin to his new team and spent the rest of the morning discussing the schedule for the week. Justin
learned that he would attend a general orientation session with other new employees followed by a customized monthlong program
that his manager would facilitate to ensure his assimilation into the company and his role. He received a welcome letter from his
colleagues, his ID was ready for him, the T-shirt he was given to wear at the company’s gym was the correct size; he also received
an invite to join any of the company’s social responsibility groups. Justin felt supported and valued in the organization; he had a
clear sense of direction about where he was going in the company from the start.

Marcia and Justin had two completely different experiences during their first day at their new
organizations. Marcia received a typical new employee orientation, one full of information and paperwork
instead of an onboarding process. Her experience illustrates what companies should not do. In contrast, Justin
had a planned formal experience that was tailored to meet his needs and directed at his integration and
success. His new organization was ready to receive him and focus on what really matters.

Marcia’s first day at work involved completing forms and signing documents that, although important and
often required by law, did not contribute to her understanding of the company or her role. The facts, figures,
and rules presented in the group session were all useful to know; however, unless they are placed in the
proper context, they do not add value to the new employee’s development. Further, the absence of her
manager and the requirement to attend a general sales training session, despite being an experienced
salesperson already, turned an otherwise noteworthy opportunity for the organization to create a positive first
impression into one more event to be checked off a list. Marcia was required to attend the training session to
comply with a requirement, regardless of her experience or what she could contribute. Her first day at work
was memorable because it was uninspiring.

In contrast, Justin completed administrative tasks and started building relationships with his new manager
and fellow employees before his first day. He felt welcomed upon arrival and immediately began to build on
his rapport with his manager through their formal and informal conversations about the plans for the next
month. Meeting his new team and later attending group sessions initiated that important integration process
into the company culture. Learning that the organization had an individualized program in place that valued
his background and his potential to contribute to the organization provided a sense of belonging and
engagement that cannot be overlooked.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

14

Different Types of Programs to Serve Different Purposes
The programs that organizations offer to their new employees vary widely. While some are as short term and
general as Marcia’s, others are more customized like Justin’s. While many organizations refer to these
programs as new employee orientation or new employee onboarding interchangeably, Marcia’s and Justin’s
examples illustrate how distinct the two experiences are and the very different objectives they achieve.
Marcia’s experience is best described as a failed attempt at an employee orientation; Justin’s is a good
example of a successful employee onboarding program.

RESOURCE
In Doris M. Sims introduces examples of whatCreative Onboarding Programs: Tools for Energizing Your Orientation Programs,
businesses are currently doing to onboard their employees. Check it out to see if some of the examples could be useful for your
program.

Employee Orientation
Employee orientation is a time-bound single event where most organizations assume that “one size fits all,”
often bringing together employees who perform different roles and functions whose main commonality is
their effective date of hire. In these group sessions, led by L&D, a senior manager usually welcomes
attendees either in person or using video or teleconferencing technology. L&D then leads the rest of the
agenda, with appearances from human resources and other departments. In the absence of L&D, HR or the
company’s owners lead this process.

Employee orientations are usually structured as a series of separate presentations that, among other topics,
highlight the company’s history, present, values, and culture, as well as its vision for the future. These
presentations, often held in classroom-type settings, are usually laden with policies, rules, and regulations
employees must follow, along with the implicit message that they must do so to remain employed. Many
companies integrate the use of technology in these orientations and even deliver some content through
customized company apps. Sometimes attendees can complete paperwork or receive training about how to
conduct transactions, such as requesting direct deposit of their wages, signing up for savings and retirement
programs, or designating beneficiaries for life insurance. Orientation programs vary in duration from several
hours to several days and are increasingly delivered online. However, there is no substitute for direct personal
contact—studies, such as those of Wesson and Gogus (2005), show that employees assimilate less and have
less understanding of the company and the job when they receive only computer-based versions of
onboarding.

PRO TIP
Ensure that employee orientation is relevant to the employee’s level in the organization by providing examples of situations that are
commonplace for the attendee’s level. Schedule separate sessions for exempt and nonexempt employees.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

15

Although useful, the information conveyed during employee orientations is, by design, far too general and
only minimally achieves the goal of facilitating a new employee’s transition to becoming an effective
business contributor. Even though attendees value the opportunity to meet fellow employees, they object to
information overload as well as the lack of information specifically related to their own roles. Therefore,
when these employees arrive at their units, they have another “first day.”

PRO TIP
Make your company’s history real by providing examples that add value to the onboarders’ experience. Asking them to read the
information from a website is not enough.

Pre-Onboarding
Pre-onboarding comprises all the activities that take place before the new employee or new-to-role employee
receives the employment offer. The organization’s recruitment and selection activities are part of this
component.

Pre-onboarding includes many steps and actions:
• Employee accepts employment offer letter.
• The employee receives additional information about the company.
• Paperwork related to the hiring process is completed.
• The company requests any necessary uniforms and personalized equipment for the employee.
• The arrival of the new employee is announced.
• The employee receives information prior to arrival to know what to expect.
• The company sends a welcome packet to the employee.
• The employee meets other employees informally.
• The employee starts becoming familiar with the new company’s culture.

TOOL
The Pre-Onboarding Checklist located at the end of this chapter is useful to ensure completion of pre-onboarding tasks.

General Onboarding
Organizations begin to create that emotional connection between the employee and the company’s purpose
by discussing the company’s mission, vision, and values and, most important, making them come alive for
employees. When employees can relate to the company’s mission, they construe their relationship with the
organization as a more personal one. When they are aware of the company’s vision, they see a future for
themselves in the company. When their values and those of the company are congruent, employees do not
experience the cognitive dissonance that often leads them to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Each company’s culture, which defines how the business does what it does, is unique, and each locality
within a company has its own culture. For example, subtle cultural differences between departments often
exist within a company. Employees need to understand the company’s culture because everything they do as

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

16

well as how others perceive and reward what they do is embedded within that culture. Therefore, they need to
grasp those critical written and unwritten cultural rules as soon as possible to be successful.

Company brand, which is the essence of what the company stands for internally and externally and how it
differentiates itself from the competition, is often one of the factors that attracts a candidate to an
organization. Thus, the company’s internal and external brands must be aligned—any discrepancies between
them may influence an employee’s decision about staying or leaving. Employees represent the company and
its brand everywhere they go and in everything they do. In today’s culture, anything can get posted on social
media, and a single incident can make or break a company’s or an employee’s reputation, so creating that
awareness of the company’s brand from the beginning gains additional significance.

The size and scope of the company’s market, the group to whom the organization delivers its goods and
services and its distinguishing characteristics, influences whether employees can see the impact of what they
do locally, nationally, or internationally, and how they envision the company’s competitors. The size and
scope of the market also affect the complexity of the organization, which, in turn, may affect the complexity
of the employee’s role and potential career path.

When employees can visualize the end users of the products and services their companies offer, they
become more personally invested in those products and services as well as in how they see themselves
representing the company and the brand. Thus, introducing employees to the company customer base defines
the company’s market even further.

The company’s organizational structure serves to guide how they function internally by delineating
reporting relationships and spans of control. In its graphic form, the organizational structure portrays the
complexity of the business, the formality of the company, and the options for career mobility. Often
presented as a living document, the organizational structure is another mechanism for showing employees
where they fit within the business and linking the names, positions, and, possibly, faces of those with whom
they will interact more or less frequently.

Role-Specific Onboarding
Role-specific onboarding provides an employee multiple opportunities to assimilate into the department’s or
unit’s culture and master their new role.

General and tailored learning experiences allow employees to acquire specific technical skills and
competencies unique to the new role. Companies may use a specific approach or a combination of
approaches, such as traditional classroom training, on-the-job training, industry-specific publications, online
courses, just-in-time learning tools, job shadowing, simulations, in-house or external academies, professional
conferences, and immersion programs, as well as mentoring and coaching.

When employees attend company events, participate in meetings, partake in learning experiences, are
present in the office, join internal and external client meetings, and interact informally with others, they
expand their company networks as they initiate and build relationships with their manager or supervisor,
peers, direct reports (if applicable), colleagues, and clients. By becoming members of professional
organizations, they interact with other professionals in different settings while keeping their expertise
up-to-date.

It is also important for employees to observe how their managers, supervisors, peers, direct reports (if
applicable), colleagues, and clients communicate and interact with one another to learn about any unwritten
rules that are crucial for a smooth role and cultural transition. Building an open and honest relationship with a
buddy or mentor is a priceless way to gain additional insights into “how we do and don’t do things around
here,” whether the employee just joined the organization or has moved to a completely different role that
requires a different set of behaviors.

An onboarding program allows employees to grasp the magnitude of the company and its culture in
general terms and to find their place in the company. Through onboarding, employees also find out how they
fit in their department and how they can contribute to their department and to the business.

When defining the scope and duration of your organization’s onboarding program, consider these factors:
• Those industries that are highly regulated, such as banking, insurance,Company industry.

pharmaceutical manufacturing, construction, and hospitality, must abide by mandates and decrees that

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

17

demand the inclusion of specific content in onboarding programs. Some industries, such as
aeronautics manufacturing, do not allow employees to perform their jobs until they have undergone
extensive training, demonstrated they can do the work independently, and been certified by an expert.

• Culture can vary from very formal to laissez-faire. In formal company cultures,Company culture.
employees often have to follow a predetermined linear path and complete their onboarding within a
particular timeframe; laissez-faire cultures often allow employees more flexibility to complete or even
choose their programs. Learning about a formal company culture where employee behavior is
completely prescribed will take longer than learning about an informal company culture where
employees are encouraged to experiment and learn. Mistakes are not an option and can be costly
within a formal company culture, while they may be encouraged in an informal company culture.

• These determine how employees interact with their supervisor or directReporting relationships.
reports, and are easier to deal with when employees and supervisors are in the same place at the same
time. However, employees may report to supervisors in a different location; if their contact is mostly
electronic, they may rarely meet. Virtual or remote employees and supervisors have to define a
different way of working and addressing issues than employees and supervisors who work in the same
office. In onboarding, particularly in role-specific onboarding, companies should spell out the nuances
of how to deal with these differences, as well as how to anticipate any potential roadblocks to success,
because reporting relationships are so important to employee engagement, retention, and success.

• This may be defined in demographic or educational terms. An organizationEmployee background.
needs to make sure that employees can work as part of a diverse workforce. Similarly, an organization
has to account for any differences in educational level and the potential impact on employee
interactions—between peers, between employees and supervisors, or among employees and
supervisors with other levels of management—when tailoring role-specific onboarding to clarify all
roles and relationships. For example, they need to determine the complexity of language and use of
jargon, as well as the level of formality in alignment with company culture, depending on role and
employee background.

• Components of role-specific onboarding have to acknowledge the employee’sEmployee experience.
level of experience in terms of industry, role, tenure, and location as they relate to the position and
expectations of the role. For example, the company’s intention in selecting Candidate A, who has less
experience in X, over Candidate B, who has more experience, has to be clear from the beginning.
Very likely, Candidate A’s learning curve will be steeper than Candidate B’s unless Candidate A’s
hiring responds to other compelling business needs that obliged the company to hire them based on
potential rather than performance. This example is based on our experience: Sleep polysomnography
technicians must have a degree in respiratory therapy. However, earning the degree does not make
you a sleep polysomnography technician. Therefore, if Candidate A has a degree in respiratory
therapy but has never worked in a sleep laboratory, and Candidate B has the degree and worked in a
sleep laboratory for five years, the onboarding for Candidate B will be shorter than that for Candidate
A.

• Straightforward repetitive roles, such as many of those in manufacturing operations,Role complexity.
typically require less time to master than roles calling for independent judgment, such as many of
those within business planning and forecasting departments.

• Typically, an onboarding program will last between a month and a year. As theMultiple players.
program’s designer, you need to orchestrate the seamless involvement of multiple players over time.
These include L&D, HR, company management (including top management), and the employee’s
manager.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

18

RESOURCES
“Strategic Onboarding: Transforming New Hires Into Dedicated Employees” by Kim Lamoreaux (2008) presents a model where
new employee orientation is called a checklist and managed by HR, onboarding is a process managed by the training function, and
strategic onboarding is an experience managed by the business function.

The U.S. Army’s Acculturation Onboarding Model (2014) takes you through an onboarding program that starts before the first day
and takes up to a year. It specifies the responsibilities of the employee and the commander, but can be adapted to nonmilitary
settings.

Who Should Undergo Onboarding?
Onboarding allows organizations to facilitate role transitions for employees who are entering another stage
within their employee life cycle. At first you may think that these programs should be geared toward those
who join your company for the first time. However, new-to-role employees at most levels of the organization
should also undergo onboarding; just consider their tenure in the company when deciding in which program
components they should participate. For instance, people who have been working for the company between
three and five years do not need to attend new employee orientations unless the company has undergone a
major change; the same is true for employees at the executive level because they establish business policy
and direction. In contrast, those new-to-role employees who have been in the company for more than five
years should attend new employee orientations and experience role-specific onboarding, because the
circumstances under which they assume their new role vary considerably. The programs that you design for
both groups of employees need to consider their similarities and differences. Let’s look at these groups and
their unique traits.

New Employees
A company’s new employees may come from another company in the same industry. For instance, a person
who worked in an auto dealership is starting work at another dealership. In this case, the employee’s
onboarding would emphasize products and customer profiles. Another example would be a university
instructor who received an offer to teach at another university; the instructor’s onboarding would focus on the
university’s mission, values, and culture, delving into the particular profile of the department and its students.

In contrast, new employees may have worked in different industries and acquired highly transferable skills
over the course of their careers. For instance, an auditor whom you just hired to work at a food and beverages
company started in banking, moved to insurance, and then moved to telecommunications. Because the tasks
and responsibilities of each of these roles are likely to be similar, at each new job, this person’s onboarding
experiences will mainly target the applicable rules and regulations for each industry.

Today’s workforce is highly mobile, not only nationally, but internationally. Therefore, an employee who
had a managerial position in Austria may accept a comparable managerial position in the United States,
whether these are in the same or different industries. If the position is in the same industry, then the
onboarding would target the similarities and differences between companies, highlighting culture. If, in
contrast, the position is in another industry, the new employee would need to spend more time learning about
the industry and the position of the business within that industry.

Today’s career paths are not as linear as they used to be because organizations have become flatter to
become more efficient. Traditionally, when employees received promotions, it was often based on their
potential to perform at a different level of responsibility. Although they may have had the potential, they still
needed to develop the competencies and skills necessary to perform their new roles and acquire the
understanding of how to handle their new responsibilities on an interpersonal level. However, with fewer
opportunities for upward mobility, more employees are accepting lateral changes for job enrichment and to
prepare them for other positions in the future, whether in the same or another company. In other instances,
employees are demoted to a lower-level position because the business needs have changed, their positions
have been redefined, or the positions demand a different skill set. Promotions, demotions, and lateral changes
can also occur in different countries, which often affords opportunities to broaden an employee’s perspective
and prepare the individual for the next position somewhere else.

In addition, some employees become known as experts in an industry. Many times, these employees are
courted by different companies because of their expertise, often for different roles. For instance, a

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

19

salesperson may become a sales executive and later an account executive. Then another company offers them
a supervisory role, and yet another offers them a managerial opening. In this case, the onboarding has to
emphasize knowledge of the company and of the role rather than that of the industry.

Other professionals may hold different positions in different industries. For instance, someone in
marketing who started as an analyst for a chocolate manufacturing company can have a senior analyst
position at a telecommunications company, move to a supervisory position in software development, and
accept another senior analyst position at a news media outlet to gain additional experience. In this case, the
employee’s onboarding would entail learning about the industry, the company, and the specific role in each
move.

New-to-Role Employees
The experience of new to role employees in your company may involve a promotion when an employee is
offered and accepts a position of more responsibility, which may or may not entail supervising or managing
others to achieve company goals—as is the case of highly technical positions where career progression can
be achieved while maintaining status as an individual contributor. For example, a recent graduate with an
engineering degree following a technical career path may start as an engineer and later be promoted to senior
engineer, principal engineer, and senior principal engineer. In contrast, a recent graduate with an engineering
degree following a managerial career path may start as an engineer and later be promoted to senior engineer
to then become manager, senior manager, and director.

Demotions occur when an employee, because of performance, business, or development reasons, goes to a
position of less or different responsibility. A demotion can be one way to learn about a different function
within your company to be ready for another role or to satisfy an employee’s temporary or long-term
personal need or time commitments.

Lateral changes take place when an employee begins to perform a similar role in another department or
function. In this case the employee brings an understanding of the role and general skills and competencies
required; however, the employee still needs to become familiar with the department or function and its
culture, as well as the subtleties of performing the role within that context.

While deciding which components to include in your onboarding program for new-to-role employees,
remember to keep the length of their tenure in the organization in mind. Also, consider if they have executive
status when making those decisions ( ).Table 1-1

Table 1-1. Onboarding Program Components for New-to-Role Employees

New-to-Role Situation
Program Component

New Employee Orientation Role-Specific
Onboarding

Promotion Depends on Tenure and Executive
Status

Yes

Demotion Depends on Tenure and Executive
Status

Yes

Lateral Change Depends on Tenure and Executive
Status

Yes

Relocation Yes Yes

Perform Work at a Location Different From Where They
Report

Yes Yes

Change in Reporting Location Yes Yes

Background in Comparable Role Depends on Tenure and Executive
Status

Yes

New Career Path Depends on Tenure and Executive
Status

Yes

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

20

Relocated employees may perform the same role or a different one under conditions of promotions,
demotions, or lateral moves; therefore, their onboarding will have to address issues associated with the
relocation in addition to those related to the change in responsibility level.

Employees may be working in a location different from where they report when they produce their
deliverables. In addition, their supervisors may be assigned to another facility, which could be within or
outside the country where the employee is based. In this case, the role-specific onboarding has to address any
work-related issues caused by the changing locations, as well as those pertaining to working under these
supervisory conditions.

Or perhaps an employee has a background in a comparable role from previous experience at another
company. While they were hired to do a different job at your company, they’re now going to take a position
that resembles the role performed previously. Even though this employee’s previous experience in a similar
role is valuable, you cannot assume that the role in your company is the same as their previous role because it
was at another company, at another time, and under different circumstances. Therefore, you should discuss
those differences but without disregarding the value of that history.

New Career Paths
A new career path begins when an employee initiates a different professional trajectory within the company
in a new area of the business, either because the employee requested it to explore other options and areas of
interest or because the company decided the employee’s skill set was a better fit for that area. For example,
someone who has held different roles in human resources embarks on a career path in marketing. Regardless
of whether the role represents a promotion, demotion, or lateral move, this employee has to master the
functional and cultural features of this new career path.

Let’s consider the following situation.

Beatrice’s Story
Beatrice started in Blanket Corp. as a manufacturing operator. Eager to learn and acquire new skills, she quickly mastered how to use
and troubleshoot the equipment in her unit. Even though it was not part of her formal role, Beatrice began to support new employees
when they were assigned to her unit. Her supervisors took notice of her leadership skills among her peers and promoted her to
supervisor. Because she was such a natural leader, and had been at Blanket Corp. for more than 10 years, no one thought to provide
role-specific onboarding for Beatrice. She was left completely on her own to figure out what to do.

Beatrice struggled with the transition as well as the new responsibilities that accompanied her role, such as being a role model for her
employees, handling company politics, communicating constantly with her employees and other management levels, and using
company systems for transactions related to her new role and employees.

Beatrice made several major mistakes because she did not understand her role or how to interact with her former supervisor. She did
not know the difference between exempt and nonexempt employees. She was unable to be a role model for her employees because
she continued behaving as an employee instead of as a supervisor. In addition, her emails showed carelessness in thinking as well as
writing.

Eleven months into her new role, her manager called her into her office to inform Beatrice of her termination.

Whose responsibility was Beatrice’s unsatisfactory performance after a very successful track record as a
manufacturing operator?

The company assumed that, because of Beatrice’s performance and general skills, she would be able to
perform a role that was new for her. Beatrice’s example illustrates a common problem in organizations:
Promoting an employee to a supervisor without appropriate onboarding or support eventually results in losing
the employee, the supervisor, or other employees, and hurting the business.

Although Beatrice was willing and able to assume her new role and had been at Blanket Corp. for more
than 10 years, the company where she initiated her career had changed. Thus, like anyone who starts in a new
position, she needed to update her knowledge about different aspects of the company, gain a different
perspective on it based on her new role, and obtain the necessary information to succeed. For all practical
purposes, Beatrice, like any other employee who assumes a supervisory or managerial position, was a new
employee who needed to receive role-specific onboarding.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

21

Let’s meet Ramiah.

Ramiah’s Story
Ramiah was a marketing manager at a waste management company. When the company decided to outsource the marketing function
as a cost-reduction measure, she was offered a position as accounts payable analyst because of her background in accounting. This
change represented a significant demotion for Ramiah; however, it was a better option for her than sudden unemployment. She
agreed to stay.

When Ramiah’s manager explained the business situation that led to the outsourcing decision, he allowed her to ask questions and
granted her a week’s leave to prepare for her new role. Meanwhile, her previous manager held several meetings with her peers and
direct reports, communicating Ramiah’s change in role and position and emphasizing how her background in accounting would
allow her to contribute to the business.

When she returned from her leave, Ramiah found that her new supervisor had already planned an individualized onboarding program
for her to learn about her new role and move forward. This was a very important step in her transition.

Ramiah was engaged and believed that she was set for success.

Beatrice’s and Ramiah’s companies handled their shifts into their new roles in totally different ways.
Beatrice’s company did not offer role-specific onboarding, while Ramiah’s did. The combination of personal
and company factors involved in these experiences led to completely different results.

Today’s career paths are anything but linear—as organizations continue to flatten, career paths go upward,
downward, and sideways. It is not uncommon for someone to take a lateral assignment or even a position that
is one or more levels below their current one to gain valuable experience before their next move. Ramiah’s
example stretches our thinking about the need for onboarding beyond external hires or promotions. Her
change in role demanded an individualized onboarding program just as much as anyone else’s role transition.
Although Ramiah’s change is considered a step backward by many, it allowed her to use her background in a
different way and remain with an organization where she enjoyed working. The way in which Ramiah’s
onboarding was handled allowed her to see this change as a temporary step from which to continue moving
forward.

Other groups of employees who need to undergo onboarding are those who are relocating within a
company in their home country or abroad.

Dimitri’s Story
Dimitri is the senior analyst at Mikka’s and has been with the company for eight years. He recently learned that he is considered a
high-potential employee, and his individualized development plan includes a transfer to the company’s new office in Lima, Peru. To
his advantage, Dimitri is fully bilingual.

Even though Dimitri’s change entails a lateral move within the same company, he will be new to the role and to the company’s
operations in Lima. Because of the company’s size and the frequency of this type of assignment, Mikka’s has an onboarding
program that begins before its employees arrive at their new assignment. The program includes a wide range of information about
the company’s operations in Lima, with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and connect with other employees before arriving to
increase the likelihood of success.

After his manager announced his transfer to the Lima office, Dimitri visited the new office in Lima for onboarding several times
before assuming his position. He received and read the company’s country-specific employee handbook, met his peers and future
team, and got a hands-on understanding of the culture of the company at that location as well as of the location itself. With the
support of a local mentor, he learned about the business, office jargon, what to say, and what not to say, as well as how to handle
radically different perceptions of time. By the time Dimitri started in his new role, he was ready to perform. He understood the role
and the culture.

Dimitri’s example illustrates an onboarding program that started several months before his role changed
and required the involvement of multiple players over time. It reinforces how onboarding, like many other
employee experiences, calls for the careful orchestration of the efforts of experts, facilitators, supporters, and

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

22

stakeholders whose job is to ease that important transition for business success.

Stakeholders of Employee Onboarding
Employee onboarding requires full responsibility from learning and development with the joint support of
human resources, management, department heads, other employees, peers, and direct reports to deliver the
employee value proposition that attracted candidates to the company in the first place. The manager enables
the general and role-specific onboarding processes, and the new or new-to-role employee co-creates the
onboarding process as an active participant in this stage of their career.

As you review their roles and responsibilities, consider preparing a matrix of all the activities and the
decision-making authority associated with them in the form of a RACI chart (Responsible, Accountable,
Consulted, and Informed). Such a chart will give you and the company a visual portrayal that will prove
useful for rebalancing and reassigning responsibilities and tasks throughout your onboarding program.

Stakeholder role clarification in onboarding will pay off throughout the program’s design and
implementation, minimizing confusion and maintaining that positive impression on the new or the
new-to-role employee. In turn, program participants will benefit from the right combination of resources,
expertise, and tenure brought to the table for them. Onboarding is one of the business’s best practices for
employees, managers, and executives.

TOOL
The “RACI Chart Sample and Template” located at the end of this chapter is useful to visualize how the responsibilities and
decision-making authority are distributed in your onboarding program.

Understanding the Big Picture
General onboarding addresses big-picture company topics. Role-specific onboarding tackles role definition in
detail. Onboarding cuts across organizational levels with the involvement of multiple stakeholders along the
way. How you handle relationships with those different stakeholders will influence the results of your
program.

In the next chapter we will guide you through the many benefits of onboarding as a preparation for
understanding your own program needs.

Questions to Explore
• How does your organization define onboarding?
• Why is onboarding important to your organization?
• Who are the stakeholders of your onboarding program?
• Does your organization differentiate between employee orientation and employee onboarding?
• What is your company doing to ease the transition of new employees into the company’s culture?
• What is the company doing to assist employees as they assume new roles and perform their new

functions?
• What does the company do between the moment when new employees accept the employment offer

and their first day?
• How does the company handle any differences in background during onboarding?

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

23

• How does the company address specific issues related to promotions, demotions, lateral moves, or
transfers among employees who are assuming new roles during onboarding?

Tools for Support

Pre-Onboarding Checklist
Use this checklist to ensure completion of all pre-onboarding tasks.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

24

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

25

RACI Chart Sample and Template
Use this chart to help you visualize how the responsibilities and decision-making authority are distributed in
your onboarding program. Review the sample chart and then use the template to analyze your own program.

Definitions:
• Responsible (R): who completes the work
• Accountable (A): who is ultimately accountable or who can say yes or no about the work
• Consulted (C): who gives feedback and contributes to the work
• Informed (I): who needs to know

Sample RACI Chart

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

26

Analysis
What are the data telling you? Look at the patterns. If someone has several Rs, this may not be realistic. If
someone seems to be making every decision, these may be delayed. If several individuals need to be
consulted about everything, question if their input is really necessary. Evaluate who needs to be informed,
when, and how.

Use this blank chart to do your own RACI analysis.

RACI Analysis Template

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

27

Additional Resources
Chao, G.T. 2012. “Organizational Socialization: Background, Basics, and Blueprint for Adjustment at Work.” Chapter 18 in The Oxford

vol. 1, edited by S.W.J. Kozlowski. New York: Oxford University Press.Handbook of Organizational Psychology,

Crebar, A. 2018. “Top 7 Employee Onboarding Programs.” Sapling HR, April 15. www.saplinghr.com/blog/top-7-employee-onboarding
.-programs

Derven, M. 2008. “Management Onboarding: Obtain Early Allegiance to Gain a Strategic Advantage in the War for Talent.” T+D,
April: 49-52.

Hampel, B., and E. Lamont. 2011. New York: McGraw Hill.Perfect Phrases for New Employee Orientation and Onboarding.

Lamoreaux, K. 2008. “Strategic Onboarding: Transforming New Hires Into Dedicated Employees.” Bersin and Associates Research
3:1. .Bulletin http://mms.gpstrategies.com/pdf/010408_RB_Onboarding_KL_Final.pdf

Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center. 2015. “Culture and Onboarding.” Ritz-Carlton blog, December 2. http://ritzcarltonleadershipcenter.com
./2015/12/culture-and-onboarding

Sims, D.M. 2011. New York: McGraw Hill.Creative Onboarding Programs: Tools for Energizing Your Orientation Programs.

Tynan, K. 2010. Hudson, MA: Personal Focus Press.Survive Your Promotion: The 90 Day Success Plan for New Managers.

U.S. Army. 2014. United States Army Civilian Acculturation Program Handbook. www.tradoc.army.mil/dcspil/acculturation/documents
./AcculturationHandbook.pdf

Vernon, A. 2012. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance.

Wesson, M.J., and C.I. Gogus. 2005. “Shaking Hands With a Computer: An Examination of Two Methods of Organizational Newcomer
Orientation.” 90(5): 1018-26.Journal of Applied Psychology

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:26 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

40

Y

3

Designing Your Onboarding Program: How
Do You Start?

In This Chapter

• Understanding your onboarding program’s current state
• Defining your onboarding program’s desired state
• Completing a gap analysis
• Building and getting approval for your business case

our onboarding program’s design will encompass five phases: assessing the current state, defining
the desired state, analyzing the gap, closing the gap, and building the business case for onboarding (

). In this chapter we discuss how to approach each phase with concrete steps that willFigure 3-1
guide you to obtain the information you will need to design and deliver an effective onboarding

program. We begin with what you need to do to establish your program’s starting point, based on what the
company has done so far about employee onboarding.

Figure 3-1. The Five Phases of Designing an Onboarding Program

Phase 1: Assessing the Current State
You have been charged with designing and implementing the company’s onboarding program. You have a
lot of ideas about what you could do; however, you know that such an endeavor requires careful planning and
dividing tasks into manageable activities. The stakes are high. Where do you start? You need to ascertain
what the company already has done about onboarding before you move further.

The first step is to look at the company program’s current state from the points of view of the business and
its employees. Your primary sources of information will be your company’s L&D and HR departments. You
can also conduct focus groups with onboarded employees and onboarding program facilitators. We
encourage you to interview between 10 and 15 different individuals during separate meetings, which should
last approximately 90 minutes.

The first and perhaps most obvious question you need to ask is whether the company has an onboarding
program in place or had one recently. The answer will direct the path you follow to obtain the rest of the
information you need about the current state ( ).Figure 3-2

C
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

2
0
1
8
.

A
s
s
o
c
i
a
t
i
o
n

F
o
r

T
a
l
e
n
t

D
e
v
e
l
o
p
m
e
n
t
.

A
l
l

r
i
g
h
t
s

r
e
s
e
r
v
e
d
.

M
a
y

n
o
t

b
e

r
e
p
r
o
d
u
c
e
d

i
n

a
n
y

f
o
r
m

w
i
t
h
o
u
t

p
e
r
m
i
s
s
i
o
n

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

p
u
b
l
i
s
h
e
r
,

e
x
c
e
p
t

f
a
i
r

u
s
e
s

p
e
r
m
i
t
t
e
d

u
n
d
e
r

U
.
S
.

o
r

a
p
p
l
i
c
a
b
l
e

c
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

l
a
w
.

EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS
AN: 1896630 ; Davila, Norma, Pina-Ramirez, Wanda.; Effective Onboarding
Account: s4264928.main.eds

41

For example, if the company has an onboarding program, you can revise it, revamp it, or transform it into a
new onboarding program. In contrast, if the company does not have an onboarding program, your
responsibility will be to find out what, if anything, the company is doing to ease the transition of employees
into the workplace.

Let’s take each path separately and consider the information that asking each question will provide.

Figure 3-2. Paths to Assess Current State of Onboarding Program

Path 1: The Company Has an Onboarding Program in Place

Revising company onboarding and new employee orientation programs every year is a best practice.
When was the last time the company’s programs were revised and updated?

If the answer is more than three years, the business has likely undergone significant changes since the last
iteration was developed. The reasons that prompted the program revision can give insights into the
organization’s culture and business needs. If politics played a role, the company probably revised the
program because of a change in management, culture, mission, or vision. A mandate from a regulatory
agency or law could also prompt program revisions. Identifying what changed will help you track the
program’s trajectory and give you some glimpses into future changes.

TOOL
If your company already has an onboarding program in place, use the “Interview Guide to Define the Current State if the Company
Has an Onboarding Program” at the end of this chapter.

What is the company’s vision for the onboarding program?
Understanding how the company sees the onboarding program is a good starting point to explore its current
state. This will be useful as you gather additional information about what the company is doing and the
results the program is obtaining. For example, the results may or may not be aligned with the company’s
vision.

What does the company want to achieve with this program?
There is a relationship between the company’s vision for the program, what specific needs the program
should address, and what the company wants the program to achieve, which in turn has to be translated into
the program’s goal.

To illustrate what you will need to do to define program goals, see the sidebar, which provides a snapshot
of the Wuud Home Center.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

42

Company Profile for Wuud Home Center

Vision: To be the supplier of choice for home remodeling projects with the best prices, products, and services through the best
employees.

History: Wuud Home Center was founded in 1975 as a family business. Today, it is a conglomerate with stores across the northeast
coast of the United States, concentrated in Massachusetts and Maine. Wuud firmly believes that its employees are its most important
asset.

Current Situation: 14 percent turnover rate among forklift drivers, or approximately 420 forklift drivers per year.

Number of Employees: 3,000.

Target Population: Forklift drivers.

Results of Exit Interviews: Only 23 have been completed, but most exiting personnel mentioned that company promises were not
met, there was a disconnect between what employees were expected to do and had to do, and their role was simply not what they
expected. Many were disappointed because what they heard during orientation and the reality that they faced when they started to
work were unrelated.

Engagement Survey Scores: Below 65 percent.

Performance Evaluations: Inconsistencies and lack of information are the trend.

Additional Information: Onboarding has been an issue for Wuud Home Center because of time constraints. For the past two years,
they have only given a half-day orientation using a dated video, followed by three days of role-specific training. New employees
pick up their real role responsibilities day by day. Managers believe that they have too much to do, so employees should “start
yesterday.” If someone is hired, they should know what to do and start doing it upon arrival.

Company Concern: HR and top management are worried about the increasing costs of turnover and the impact on the bottom line.

Proposed Goal: A role-specific onboarding program for forklift drivers.

Did Wuud Home Center express the organization’s expectation for the program in a way that makes it
possible to achieve it? To find out, let’s apply the SMART criteria to its goal to see if it is achievable:

• (S) Is it specific? Does it spell out what needs to be done unambiguously?
• (M) Is it measurable? Does it allow the organization to see its progress toward achieving it in

quantifiable terms, especially as it relates to business results?
• (A) Is it actionable? Does it require that something be done?
• (R) Is it realistic? Is the challenge directly proportional to the capacity to achieve it?
• (T) Is it time bound? Assigning a time limit focuses efforts on what needs to be done and makes it

easier to measure milestones along the way.
According to the SMART criteria, the goal of creating a role-specific onboarding program for forklift

drivers is not specific enough, and it is unclear how the company will measure it. Although it includes
elements that are actionable, the goal could bring about unexpected results because it allows for multiple
interpretations about how to take action to achieve it. Further, it is not realistic for a company to quickly turn
a half-day, general new employee orientation program into a full-fledged differentiated onboarding program.
Therefore, the potential costs of not being able to establish the program could be higher than maintaining the
status quo. Finally, the timeline for when the company expects to have the program in place is vague.

Based on the SMART criteria, the company’s goals should be to:
• Complete a full organizational snapshot for Wuud Home Center to determine the onboarding

program’s current state and define its desired state.
• Design an onboarding program for forklift drivers that bridges the gap found through the

organizational snapshot by the end of the third quarter.
Drafting the goal in alignment with the SMART criteria establishes a guidepost for the gap analysis.

What does the company do to welcome and ease the transition of new employees into the organization?
Find out what the company does, whether it’s activities, training sessions, meetings, or something else. The
common tendency is to mischaracterize new employee orientations as onboarding programs. For example,

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

43

someone may tell you that the company has an onboarding program, when it is actually only giving out a
welcome packet to employees. Ask for specific examples of what is done to ensure the onboarding program
really exists.

Who is the current owner of the employee onboarding program?
Typically, L&D and HR either separately or jointly own employee onboarding programs. In smaller
businesses, the owner or the general manager may conduct onboarding. In other cases, onboarding just
happens. A lack of clear ownership results in a lack of accountability.

Who are the program stakeholders?
The snapshot of the onboarding program’s current state must identify the program’s stakeholders. They enter
and exit the process multiple times, so knowing who they are helps you find out how they prepare to
participate. Potential stakeholders include boards of directors, business owners, HR, operations, and quality.

How are recruitment and selection involved in the onboarding program?
Many books consider onboarding only within the context of recruitment and selection. We believe that
recruitment and selection play an important role in employee onboarding because onboarding begins with the
business decision to open a position. However, recruitment and selection represent the first two of many
elements of an onboarding program that are part of the pre-onboarding phase introduced in .chapter 1

Is the onboarding program designed only for new employees or does it also include current employees
and transfers who are assuming new roles?
Companies often only focus their onboarding efforts on external hires, based on the assumption that they
need to obtain a general understanding of the new organization. Even though this is true, current employees
or transfers who are assuming new roles also need to undergo onboarding when they transfer or when their
roles change. As mentioned in , the time that has elapsed since the employees’ roles changed andchapter 1
whether they are at an executive level will determine their needs.

PRO TIP
Establish priorities for information based on its value for employees. For example, tailor topics to the interests and needs of the
audience. If your company’s history is part of your orientation, allow more time for focusing on the local level than the corporate
level, because it is more relevant to your audience.

Is the company including a general orientation in its onboarding program?
Find out what topics are included in the orientation. (We include a list of suggested topics in underchapter 4
“Program Content for General Onboarding.”) Learn about how much time the company dedicates to the
general orientation component—a three-day orientation will likely yield different results than a one-day
program. The amount of information presented during an orientation can be overwhelming for attendees, so
you might want to consider dividing it into shorter units.

Does the company offer a general onboarding program for all positions?
If the answer is yes, the company is not considering the differences between roles that should be addressed in
onboarding. This signifies an important starting point for building a case for a program that is differentiated
by position and by role.

Does the company offer a differentiated program by position?
If the company differentiates the program by position, find out for which positions and how the company

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

44

decides who participates, what is included in the differentiated program, and why this is so. A company may
offer general onboarding, but has hourly employees attend sessions where individual contributors,
supervisors, managers, and executives do not participate. Another company might offer role-specific
onboarding for each position with or without a general onboarding component for all groups simultaneously
or separately.

What is the content of the onboarding program?
Program content varies depending on multiple business circumstances. Therefore, ask follow-up questions to
find out as much as you can about what is included and why. For example, one company may dedicate a day
to present topics related to the business, another one spends an entire day discussing issues related to the
employee handbook, and a third uses role play to practice customer service scenarios regardless of employee
role because service is a business imperative.

For instance, banks spend considerable time illustrating situations that tellers may encounter in their
interactions with customers. Hotels emphasize the history of how the brand started and evolved into the
present, as well as detailing the importance of customer service and tours of the facilities. Hospitals highlight
legal and compliance aspects such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and
confidentiality.

Ask follow-up questions to find out as much as you can about what is included in your company’s
onboarding program and why.

PRO TIP
Include short videos of no more than three minutes, use images, emphasize points with color, tell stories, and include music in your
onboarding programs. It can also help to provide materials to touch, use objects as much as possible, and introduce role-play
situations for pairs to practice behaviors.

Who facilitates the onboarding program?
What are their roles in the process? Effective onboarding programs encompass the orchestrated involvement
of multiple players and stakeholders. The selection of program facilitators will certainly make an indelible
first impression on participants, who are more likely to believe the company values its employees if they see
top-level managers participating in the program.

How is the company handling the needs of specific employee groups?
Whether the company has the same program for all employees or separates them out by groups, at some point
it will have to address the needs of specific employee groups. For example, the complexity of information
that needs to be conveyed to hourly manufacturing employees about company safety practices is decidedly
different from the level of detail required by hourly employees in administrative roles.

When does the onboarding program start and end?
Some companies define beginning and ending times for their onboarding programs based on the duration of
the general group sessions if that is all that they offer. In contrast, other companies may include the duration
of role-specific onboarding components, which depend on the complexity of the role. As a general rule, for
most positions an onboarding program lasts between three months and one year.

For example, the onboarding program for a fast food worker may last two weeks, compared with one for a
legal administrative assistant, which may last one month; someone in a supervisory or individual contributor
role could spend six months in onboarding, and a vice president or executive could spend a year in
onboarding.

Always pursue as much specificity as possible in terms of program duration and as it pertains to the

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

45

different program components.

When are employees expected to be ready to perform their jobs?
Employee readiness varies depending on employee characteristics, background, and job specifics.
Onboarding programs are a starting point for job readiness; employees who complete onboarding programs
are usually ready to perform in less time than those who do not.

PRO TIP
Before you select your program’s facilitators, ensure that they can transfer knowledge and are very articulate by observing them
delivering training sessions and presentations. Once they’re selected, take them through train-the-trainer sessions for practice, and
conduct rehearsals for further observation and coaching.

How does the expectation of employee readiness to perform their jobs compare with their actual
performance?
What is the relationship between company expectations about employee readiness to do their jobs and actual
results? In our experience, employees are usually performing within one year of onboarding. If employees are
meeting performance expectations, onboarding is likely a success factor, although it cannot be the only one.
However, the program demands careful analysis if those employees are not meeting the company’s readiness
expectations and delivering results after participating in the role-specific component.

How does the company evaluate the results of the onboarding program?
Program evaluation is the key to finding out the impact of a business initiative. Its results are also useful to
make a case for maintaining, expanding, or eliminating programs (or specific components), especially when
comparing outcomes against initial investments. Further, companies that evaluate their programs are
communicating the value they place on those programs. If the company is not evaluating its results, it is
wasting an opportunity to obtain valuable data about its investment and information that can be used to
improve the program. If the company does evaluate those results, request them because they should reveal
information about what needs to change and what needs to stay the same when you revise the program.

Does the company track the engagement levels of employees who participated in the onboarding
program?
Higher employee engagement levels are among the benefits of onboarding programs. Measuring and
monitoring the engagement levels of program participants is one way to monitor program effectiveness,
especially when compared with the engagement levels of employees who did not participate in such
programs. This serves a twofold purpose: to adjust the current program and to make a business case to revise
it. Sort the engagement data by tenure in the company; those employees who report tenure of one year or less
will be your recently onboarded employees.

PRO TIP
Consider including questions about onboarding in your next engagement survey, such as:

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

46

» Based on your onboarding experience, what can be improved to help new employees engage more quickly?

» Based on your onboarding experience or what you have heard about our onboarding program, what do you think the likelihood
is that the new hires will leave the company before their first anniversary?

» What three things would you include in the onboarding program to make new colleagues feel more welcome in your
department?

What is the feedback of former onboarding participants?
This question seeks information from former program participants at Kirkpatrick’s Level 1, Reaction, which
could be obtained directly from them as well as from L&D or HR. Onboarded employees should be a
primary source for feedback about the program during and after their participation. They can describe what
they liked and did not like, what was useful and not useful, and, most important, how the program can be
improved to make it more effective for future participants.

What has been the feedback of the program’s facilitators? Is there a trend?
Because program facilitators are in direct contact with new or new-to-role employees, often over extended
periods, they are a primary source of information for what happens during program components in qualitative
and quantitative terms. Some may even be asked to evaluate participant job performance after different
learning experiences, such as on-the-job training. As experts in their fields, program facilitators can add value
when you’re starting to update content and redefine tactics.

PRO TIP
Compare the feedback you receive from former onboarding participants with the company’s turnover rates. Find out if employees
are leaving the company because they are not satisfied with their onboarding experience.

What experience do the managers who are involved in employee recruitment and selection have in
developing others?
Managers are often involved in pre-onboarding and lead role-specific onboarding programs. Therefore, they
must have experience and a willingness to develop others. Companies need to reconsider the participation of
managers who lack experience developing others, are not willing to develop others, or lack the competencies
or time to do so. You should either provide mechanisms for these managers to gain the required experience
and competencies, such as training and coaching, or find better-qualified substitutes for them during the
role-specific component of onboarding.

RESOURCE
“Time to Take Our Own Advice: Q&A With Elaine Biech,” an interview by Ryann Ellis (2018), emphasizes the importance of
knowing what we do and why we do it.

What business results can be attributed to the onboarding program?
Granting that business results cannot be attributed solely to onboarding programs, it is still possible to

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

47

establish associations between program participation and business results. For example, the time to
productivity of onboarded employees should be shorter than that of employees who were not onboarded. The
number and frequency of errors in tasks assigned should be lower among employees who were onboarded
than among those who were not. The customer service indices of employees who were onboarded should be
higher than those who were not. The dollar amount of new accounts brought in by onboarded employees
should be greater than that of those employees who were not.

What are the program’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
The classic SWOT analysis serves to bring together different factors that have and may have an impact on the
company’s onboarding program. This is a question that lends itself to discussion in individual or group
settings, and is useful to examine internal and external factors that can be at best modified and at worst
anticipated as you revise your company’s program. You may even be able to anticipate potential roadblocks
for program implementation success based on the results of this analysis.

TOOL
The “Sample and Template for SWOT Analysis” at the end of this chapter, gives you a structure to organize the information you
gather from your program’s SWOT analysis.

What is the current political, economic, social, and technological environment surrounding the
program?
How are those factors affecting it? This question addresses a different angle of the program’s context than the
previous question suggested, and lends itself to be asked in individual or group settings using the traditional
PEST analysis. The answers typically elicit details about the broader context in which the organization
operates, and which affect the current and desired state of the onboarding program. For example, any
expected changes in technology within the company’s industry will demand different competencies among
new employees and diverse tactics to prepare these employees for their roles. In addition, any shifts in the
demographic profiles of the available talent pool may lead to modifications in training approaches.

TOOL
The “Sample and Template for PEST Analysis,” located at the end of this chapter, simplifies organizing the information you gather
from your program’s PEST analysis.

Path 2: The Company Does Not Have an Onboarding Program in Place

Did the company have an onboarding program in the past? If so, what type of program was it?
If the company had an onboarding program at some point, collect as many specific examples as possible of
what it did.

Why did the company discontinue the onboarding program?
The answers to this question will allow you to identify some potential opportunities and roadblocks for the

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

48

new program. For instance, the previous program may have been discontinued because the organization did
not see its value, which points to an issue of evaluation that you will need to consider. The program could
have been discontinued because no one was available to facilitate it and follow through. Or perhaps the
company did not have the time to do it, which may suggest lack of support from management. In this case,
you will need to focus on defining the desired state.

TOOL
The “Interview Guide to Define the Current State if the Company Does Not Have an Onboarding Program,” located at the end of this
chapter, can serve as a starting point to gather information.

How ready is the organization for an employee onboarding program?
By asking this question, you will define the program’s scope and scale based on its current capabilities from
the beginning, because organizations are rarely ready to launch full-blown onboarding programs. Consider
designing and implementing your onboarding program by stages, and positioning each subsequent stage on
the successes of the previous one.

Phase 2: Defining the Onboarding Program’s Desired State
The information you gathered during Phase 1 gives you a solid foundation of where the organization stands
regarding the onboarding program’s current state. Now you are ready to define the program’s desired state.
The following set of questions will prompt you to think about what the company expects of its future
onboarding program.

TOOL
The “Interview Guide to Define the Onboarding Program’s Desired State,” located at the end of the chapter, targets critical issues to
define the program’s desired state.

What is the company’s vision for the future of the onboarding program?
Starting with a general picture of what the company expects of the onboarding program will guide you as you
explore the specifics of those expectations in subsequent questions. This general picture of the desired state
will be critical when you complete the gap analysis in phase 3. The answers to this question will also give
you a glimpse of how close or distant the current and desired states are, especially when getting into finer
points, such as time and resources.

What specific company needs should the program address?
As program designer, you need to understand the business needs underlying the company’s intention to have
an onboarding program. In we introduced several benefits of an onboarding program. Clarify if thechapter 2
company already has some of those benefits in mind, if it is expecting something specific, or if an onboarding
program is even the most appropriate way to meet those needs. Answers such as wanting “employees who

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

49

can deliver results faster” or “employees who are committed to working here” are needs aligned with the
purpose of an onboarding program; answers such as wanting to “have employees who are creative” signal
misunderstanding of what an onboarding program can do, because creativity is a trait that onboarding cannot
give the employee.

What does the company want to achieve with this program?
This question is closely related to the ones about the vision for the program and the needs that the company
wants to address. Examine what the company wants to achieve with this program in the future, and translate
that into a goal, which you’ll express following the SMART format discussed in phase 1.

RESOURCE
Erika Lamont and Anne Bruce’s (2004) is a good overview of the changingThe Talent Selection and Onboarding Pocket Toolkit
talent selection and onboarding landscape, and how to develop employees.

What business metrics does the company want to affect through this program?
For example, a company may be interested in reducing absenteeism among new employees. Another
company may be interested in increasing productivity among new employees. Onboarding programs are a
suitable means to have an impact on both metrics.

What business changes in the near future is the company anticipating that would have an impact on
the goal and design of the onboarding program?
This question is closely related to those that addressed the organization’s strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities, and threats, as well as the political, environmental, social, and technological environment you
identified for the current state using the SWOT and PEST analyses. Define “future” in number of years, as
businesses commonly do. Consider completing SWOT and PEST analyses for a three-year timeframe. For
example, the company may be expecting to increase or decrease the size of its workforce because of an
acquisition, divestiture, new product introduction, or legacy product transfer. Because any of these changes
would redefine the size and scope of the new workforce, they would also lead to rethinking the scope and
goal of the program.

Who is the intended audience of the new program?
This question is designed to find out if the company is considering an onboarding program for a particular
group or for all new hires, as well as a role-specific component for new-to-role employees or only for new
external hires. Ask about the characteristics of these potential groups to get more specificity on the intended
audience for the program.

Who will own the employee onboarding program?
Regardless of if the company expects the program’s owner to change or stay the same, ask follow-up
questions that will help you find reasons for either case. These will also shed light into program components
that may or may not be working as expected. For example, inquire about what should stay the same and what
should be different in the desired state, regardless of who owns the program.

How many employees does the company expect to hire in a given period?
A smaller number of anticipated new employees may call for a more individualized approach, even for the
general onboarding phase; a larger number, on the other hand, may allow for a combination of large and
small group components. Moreover, the number of expected hires, added to the number of anticipated

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

50

employees whose roles will change, will represent onboarding program complexity. Regardless of anticipated
group size, consistency in program delivery is what will make a difference in your program’s success.

For what departments and positions is the company expecting to hire?
The areas and roles for which the company is expecting to bring new or new-to-role employees will become
the priorities for the onboarding program. For example, a company that is expecting to increase the size of a
call center may hire large numbers of customer service representatives whose profiles are very similar, while
one that is developing new business lines will bring in employees with different backgrounds to perform
different functions. The desired state for the first company’s general onboarding program will entail one
program for all new customer service representatives and a role-specific program that will be very similar for
all participants. In contrast, the desired state of the second company’s onboarding program will probably
involve a general onboarding component that will be delivered to groups of only hourly employees and
another to groups of individual contributors, supervisors, and managers. In addition, the desired state for the
role-specific component of the second company’s program will demand careful differentiation in design and
duration by function and level. Therefore, the functions these employees would be expected to perform will
determine which role-specific experiences and resources will be needed.

What is the anticipated demographic profile of new employees?
The multiple generations co-existing in the workforce is a relevant issue to define in your onboarding
program’s desired state. Knowing the demographic profile is important because the company will need to
customize according to background and experience within the program’s general and role-specific
components.

Where will those employees be located?
Onboarding programs have to be designed within the context of the company’s location, whether this means
a site or a geographical area. The company has to further consider external cultural issues related to the
location or nuances related to functions within a site or site’s surrounding area, such as small town versus
metropolitan, to facilitate the transitions of those employees. For example, employees who work for a
company based in the United States have a different work experience than those who work for a company in
Central America or Europe, even if it is the same U.S.-based company.

What type of employment experience are new hires or new-to-role employees looking for?
As today’s workforce continues to change and so much information about companies and roles within them
is available online, employees develop expectations about their employment experience that go beyond job
security and basic benefits. Many of today’s employees are seeking opportunities to grow professionally,
understanding that this growth may come from nontraditional career paths, and personally by becoming
involved in social responsibility initiatives.

Many employees are looking for an environment where they can establish close connections with others
and belong to a community. In contrast, other employees are looking for flexibility and autonomy to
complete their work without schedule or location restrictions. Still others prefer traditional and structured
environments where roles and responsibilities are clearly established and chains of command must be
followed. Knowing the type of employment experience that newcomers seek is important from the beginning
of the recruitment and selection process as the company decides if the candidate is a good fit for the
company. This information also prompts onboarding program design decisions because the program has to
reflect the company culture and brand.

Who are the program stakeholders?
Identifying who these stakeholders will be as well as pinpointing those who will be involved in employee
onboarding for the first time will serve to map how they will be prepared for their participation within the
parameters of the new program. Pay special attention to any expected changes in stakeholder groups or
individuals involved.

Will the new program include an orientation component?
What will that involve? The content of the orientation component and the level of detail expected to be

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

51

included will shed light on the company’s commitment to the program. Be on the lookout for dismissals (for
example, “we don’t need an orientation”) as well as for extremes in expectations for content (either too little
or too much), because you will need to influence program managers to grasp the importance of including an
orientation component with the right amount of content for its intended audience.

Who will facilitate the program and how will each facilitator contribute?
As a general rule, L&D facilitates onboarding unless the business requires otherwise. Besides the specific
data that you obtain about facilitators and their contributions for the program’s desired state, through this
question you will be able to indirectly gauge the company’s current satisfaction with its slate of facilitators.
Any anticipated changes in facilitators from the current to the desired state will suggest that you will need to
determine if they have the necessary competencies for the role and that you prepare new ones for
participation in the program.

Phase 3: Analyzing the Gap
You are now ready to organize what you learned about the company’s current program (the current state), if
one exists, and compare it with what you learned about what the company expects for the new program (the
desired state). The results of the comparisons you make will become your gap analysis. They are the
foundation of what you need to do to get your company’s onboarding program to its desired state, which you
will define in phase 4 at a high level. You will develop that design further after your company approves your
business case. Summarize the information that you gathered as you were asking questions about the
program’s current and desired states so the story behind your data emerges.

TOOL
The “Sample and Template to Compare the Onboarding Program’s Current and Desired States,” located at the end of the chapter,
can be used to summarize the current and desired states and then identify the gap between them.

As you summarize, consider what you learned about components of the current and desired programs.
Look for similarities and differences between the elements of the current and desired states of the program
that you listed, such as metrics. How close or far apart these elements are will affect the scope of the program
in terms of the amount and type of work that will need to be done to close the gap. For instance, if the current
state’s vision is very similar to the desired state’s vision, refocusing or redesigning some components may be
sufficient, unless the company is overlooking some fundamental components that must be included. If so,
you will need to bring up those components in the business case for the new program. If these elements are
totally different, closing this gap will demand a program overhaul or a completely new program, and the
interests of the organization may be best served by developing and launching such a program in stages.

Phase 4: Closing the Gap
Use the results of the gap analysis to determine the new program’s goal and the type of program you are
going to design. The new onboarding program could take one of many forms, either from its outset or after a
series of stages. Each form has advantages and disadvantages that must be considered to decide which option
would the best for your company.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

52

TOOL
Use the “Templates for Analysis of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Programs” tool at the end of this chapter to summarize the
results of your analysis of each type of program as they pertain to your business. This will help you determine which approach would
be best.

When deciding what program component or combination of components to include in your program,
consider the following advantages and disadvantages of each. Let’s look at the different combinations.

Some advantages of pre-onboarding for new and new-to-role employees include getting documents and
paperwork completed and preparing the organization to receive those employees. They can also be
introduced to other employees during pre-onboarding events, which means they’ll recognize familiar faces
when onboarding starts and when they arrive at their specific areas. However, if the starting dates change, if
they withdraw from the process, or if they reject the employment or position offer at the last minute, these
efforts will have been wasted.

Including a general orientation as part of general onboarding for new employees provides common content
for all, allows them to obtain a general understanding of the business, and addresses cultural issues in broad
terms because these orientations are usually focused on the company. However, general content tends to be
wide-ranging and superficial for reaching audiences with a variety of backgrounds and roles. It may also
center on rules and compliance issues that may not be relevant to everyone. Moreover, because of the
content’s nature, these orientations often cannot account for intradepartment cultural or role-specific
differences. Participants may also feel isolated from the rest of the company if they only interact with other
new employees.

Delivering general onboarding for new-to-role employees provides up-to-date information about the
industry and the business. This may result in a shortened time to productivity because they already have a
basic understanding of the company’s culture. However, the nature of this component asks for specificity that
can only be achieved through pointed individual development.

General onboarding for new hourly employees and customized onboarding for others with specific roles,
such as supervisors, managers, and executives, requires some degree of customization by offering business
and industry information, as well as general company and specific department cultural information that is
tailored to employee level, role, and profile. This customization allows supervisors, managers, and executives
to access the resources that are valuable for their long-term development. Notwithstanding, this approach
may maintain a separation between new and new-to-role employees, with the former perceiving inequities if
they notice that new-to-role employees are not being onboarded.

General onboarding for hourly new-to-role employees, combined with customized role-specific
onboarding for new-to-role supervisors, managers, and executives, addresses the role-specific needs of each
group, including those topics related to unique cultural issues. However, although this approach caters to the
individual needs of supervisors, managers, and executives, it still eclipses those of hourly employees, who
may claim that their role transitions are more complex.

General onboarding for new and new-to-role employees with a general orientation and role-specific
components, regardless of levels, provides common content for all participants and anchors everyone’s
understanding of the business’s culture. This gives participants a foundation for grasping the nuances of
department subcultures during role-specific onboarding. This approach acknowledges the importance of all
roles for business success while granting access to individual development resources according to role and
organizational level. It also serves to recognize and account for individual differences. Nevertheless, because
of its direct relation with the business, this take on onboarding demands constant review and updating, as
well as the availability of a wide range of resources, possibly including third parties, who must be prepared to

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

53

deliver the role-specific components and whose transitions must be coordinated smoothly. When a
company’s financial and human resources allow it, general onboarding for new and new-to-role employees
along with role-specific onboarding for all levels is the best option.

Phase 5: Building Your Business Case
The business case serves to tell the company what you plan to do and how much the company will need to
invest to make it a reality. It brings together the benefits, drawbacks, risks, costs, current situation, and future
state. The purpose of the business case is to get approval; by doing so, you make onboarding a business
priority. It is a communications tool and, as such, L&D has to frame it using the language of the company.

Typically, the business case answers the following questions:
• Why is onboarding important for the company?
• Where is the company in terms of onboarding?
• Why does the company need an onboarding program?
• What are some potential benefits of an onboarding program for the company?
• What does the company want to achieve with an onboarding program?
• What are the essential components of an onboarding program?
• How and when will stakeholders participate?
• How much will the program cost?
• How long will the program take to implement?

To prepare the business case, start with a summary of your organizational assessment (that is, what you
did, how you collected information, and the highlights of the results). Then establish a relationship between
the current and desired state based on those results, which will lead to delineating the program’s scope in
terms of:

• audience (new employees, new-to-role employees, executives, employee demographics, employee
skill level, employee schedules)

• phases (pre-onboarding, general onboarding, role-specific onboarding)
• orientation content
• facilitators
• delivery methods (face-to-face, online, blended).

Next, you will introduce the connection between the program and the company’s key performance
indicators related to people ( ). For example, under Reduce Turnover Rate, you want to verify andFigure 3-3
communicate the company’s turnover rate before and after the inception of your program.

PRO TIP
Always include powerful statistics. They speak the language of business.

Figure 3-3. Topics to Show Value of Onboarding Program

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

54

Next, you will justify why the program is important and why it needs to be implemented. Last, you will
provide estimated costs of design and implementation.

A business case usually contains the following sections: executive summary, context, purpose, benefits,
objectives and goals, project description, estimated timeline, financial investment, and next steps. Let’s take a
closer look at each.

TOOL
The “Template for Business Case,” located at the end of this chapter, will help you organize the information that you collected to
build your business case.

Executive Summary
The executive summary is a short version of the business case, which allows readers to rapidly become
acquainted with a large amount of content. Your executive summary needs to drive the reader to read the rest
of the document. It answers the question of why the company should onboard its employees.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

55

Context
The context portion presents the current business situation, as well as the company’s or the program’s
strengths and gaps in onboarding.

Purpose
This section answers the question of why company needs onboarding. It should include statistics, such as the
costs of losing an employee before the first year of employment, turnover over a set period, comparisons of
employee retention in companies that do and don’t have onboarding programs, and average tenure of
onboarded versus non-onboarded employees. (See for other metrics.)chapter 5

Benefits
The benefits section is where you highlight the value an onboarding program adds to the company. Chapter 2
outlined some of the benefits of onboarding programs that could be relevant for your business case. For
instance, the company may reduce costs by aligning the onboarding program to the business strategy and
reducing turnover rates.

Objectives and Goals
This section introduces what the company intends to achieve through an onboarding program in measurable
terms.

Project Description
This is the longest section of the business case. It should include the program’s goals and objectives in
SMART terms, as well as who will be involved in the program and their roles, the activities that will be
delivered, and the preliminary measures of success the company will use.

PRO TIP
When you map the picture of your program in the business case, be sure to include all information needed to get its approval.
Anticipate your audience’s possible questions based on their interests and needs.

Estimated Timeline
This section presents a proposed sequence of activities with a suggested timeframe, a general implementation
schedule, immediate and long-term steps with approximate milestones, and who will be doing what and
when.

Financial Investment
The financial investment section is directed at those who will approve the project’s budget. It provides
information about the financial implications of the onboarding program, allowing the company to compare
associated costs and anticipated benefits. Make sure that the project is financially feasible within the
company’s situation.

Next Steps
To close your business case, include a description of what the company will do to start the onboarding
program.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

56

PRO TIP
Anticipate all possible reactions when putting together your business case. You can do this by following company guidelines and
practices, minimizing the use of jargon, and preparing to handle objections.

Now You Have the Foundation
Having your business case approved makes onboarding a priority. It shows that your onboarding program is a
critical business initiative to generate business improvement that results in real value. You now have the
foundation to design your onboarding program. In the next chapter we will discuss how to develop and
implement the onboarding program for your organization.

Questions to Explore:
• Does your company have an onboarding program? Why or why not?
• With whom do you need to meet to gather the information required to complete your organizational

assessment?
• How can you influence stakeholders to participate in the organizational assessment?
• How would you describe the current state of your company’s onboarding program?
• Who participates in the company’s onboarding program? Why?
• Who is the audience for the company’s onboarding program?
• What specific need does the company intend to address with this program?
• What will you do to convince the company to do role-specific onboarding?
• Whom do you need to convince first to revise (or design) an onboarding program for the company?
• How would you describe the desired state of your company’s onboarding program?
• What combination of components will you use for your company’s onboarding program?
• What is the main challenge you will face to take the company’s program from its current to its desired

state?
• What will you do to address that challenge?
• What will you include in your business case?
• What issues or concerns may top management have about your business case for onboarding? What

can you do to address them?

Tools for Support

Interview Guide to Define Current State if Company Has Onboarding Program
Does your company already have an onboarding program in place? If so, you’ll follow path 1. Use these
questions to help define the current state of the program.

• When was the last time that the company’s onboarding program or new employee orientation program
was revised and updated and why?

• What is the company’s vision for the onboarding program?
• What does the company want to achieve with this program?

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

57

• What does the company do to welcome and ease the transition of new employees into the
organization?

• Who is the owner of the employee onboarding program?
• Who are the stakeholders of the program?
• How are recruitment and selection involved in the onboarding program?
• Is the onboarding program designed only for new employees who are external hires, or does it also

include those current employees or transfers who are assuming new roles?
• Is the company including a general orientation in its onboarding program?
• Does the company offer a general onboarding program for all positions?
• Does the company offer a differentiated program by position?
• What is the content of the onboarding program?
• Who facilitates the onboarding program? What are their roles in the process?
• How is the company handling the needs of specific employee groups?
• When does the onboarding program start and end?
• When are employees expected to be ready to perform their jobs?
• How does the expectation of employee readiness to perform their jobs compare with their actual

performance?
• How does the company evaluate the results of the onboarding program?
• Does the company track the engagement levels of employees who participated in the onboarding

program?
• What is the feedback of former participants of the onboarding program?
• What is the feedback of the program’s facilitators? Is there a trend?
• What experience do the managers who are involved in employee recruitment and selection have in

developing others?
• What business results can be attributed to the onboarding program?
• What are the program’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
• What is the political, economic, social, and technological environment that surrounds the program?

How are those factors affecting the program?

Sample and Template for SWOT Analysis
The SWOT analysis brings together the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that are having and
may have an impact on the company’s onboarding program. Use the sample to see how it works, and then
use the template to organize the information you gather from your program’s SWOT analysis.

Sample SWOT Analysis

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

58

SWOT Analysis Template

Sample and Template for PEST Analysis
Use the PEST analysis to determine the political, economic, social, and technological factors that could have
an impact on your onboarding program. Use the example analysis to see how it works and then use the
template to organize the information you gather from your own PEST analysis.

Sample PEST Analysis

Political Economic

• Approval of law increasing minimum wage (affects • Decreased unemployment rate in region (may be more

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

59

employee profile and increases hiring costs)
• Increase in government regulations for industry segment

(affects content of role-specific onboarding)

difficult and costly to find the right employees for the
company)

Social Technological

• Multiple generations co-existing in the workplace
(onboarding has to address all generations’ learning
preferences)

• Company moving to online delivery of training
programs (affects design of the onboarding program)

PEST Analysis Template

Interview Guide to Define the Current State if the Company Does Not Have an
Onboarding Program
Does your company already have an onboarding program in place? If not, you’ll follow path 2. Use these
questions as a starting point to gather information to define what, if anything, the company is doing to ease
the transition of employees into the workplace.

• Did the company have an onboarding program in the past? If so, what type of program was it? Who
owned and facilitated the program?

• Why did the company discontinue the onboarding program?
• How ready is the organization for an employee onboarding program?

Interview Guide to Define the Onboarding Program’s Desired State
Once you have a solid foundation of where the organization stands regarding the current state of the
onboarding program, you need to define the program’s desired state. Use these questions to help you define
what the company expects of the future onboarding program.

• What is the company’s vision of the onboarding program’s future?

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

60

• What specific company needs should the program address?
• What will the company want to achieve with this program?
• On what business metrics does the company want to have an impact through this program?
• What business changes in the near future is the company anticipating that would have an impact on

the goal and design of the onboarding program?
• Who is the intended audience of the new program?
• Who will own the employee onboarding program?
• How many employees does the company expect to hire in a given period?
• For what departments and positions is the company expecting to hire?
• What is the anticipated demographic profile of those employees?
• Where would those employees be located?
• What type of employment experience are new hires or new-to-role employees looking for?
• Will the new program include an orientation component? What are the orientation components?
• Who will facilitate the onboarding program and how will each facilitator contribute?

Sample and Template to Compare the Onboarding Program’s Current and
Desired States
Use this chart to summarize the current and desired states and then identify the gap between the two. Use the
sample comparison as an example as you fill in the template provided here.

Sample Comparison

Current State Desired State Difference or Gap

Owner: HR Owner: L&D New expected owner

Orientation for all new employees Orientation for new and new-to-role
employees differentiated by groups

Orientation will include more groups
and will be different

Not tracking employee engagement Will track employee engagement New measure

Participants do not report
understanding role after program
completion

Participants expected to understand and
perform role after program completion

Expectation of job performance for
onboarded employees

Template for Your Comparison

Current State Desired State Difference or Gap

Templates for Analysis of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Programs
Look at the advantages and disadvantages of each program component or combination for your company to
decide which one will be more viable now. Consider paving the way to more encompassing approaches as
the needs and readiness of your company evolve.

Pre-Onboarding Programs for New Employees and New-to-Role Employees

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

61

General Onboarding Programs for New Employees and New-to-Role Employees

General Onboarding Programs for Hourly New Employees and Customized Onboarding for Employees
With Specific Roles

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

62

General Onboarding Programs for New Employees and New-to-Role Employees with Role-Specific
Onboarding Regardless of Level

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

63

Template for Business Case
A business case usually contains an executive summary, context, purpose, benefits, objectives and goals, a
project description, an estimated timeline, the financial investment, and next steps. Use this tool to help
organize the information that you collect as you build your business case.

Executive Summary

Context

Purpose

Benefits

Objectives and Goals

Project Description

Estimated Timeline

Financial Investment

Next Steps

Additional Resources
Achor, S. 2011. “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” TEDx Talk, May. www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better

._work/transcript?language=en

Barghelame, K. 2016. “What Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Can Teach Us About Employee Onboarding.” Gusto, June 29. https://gusto
..com/framework/hr/what-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-can-teach-us-employee-onboarding

Buttrick, R. 2009. 4th ed. New York: PrenticeThe Project Workout: The Ultimate Handbook of Project and Program Management,
Hall.

Ellis, R. 2018. “Time to Take Our Own Advice: Q&A With Elaine Biech.” ATD Insights, February 28. www.td.org/insights/time-to
.-take-our-own-advice-q-a-with-elaine-biech

Friedman, J.P., ed. 2007. 4th ed. Hauppaugue, NY: Barron’s Educational Services.Dictionary of Business Terms,

Gide, A. 2018. “André Gide.” Wikipedia, June 14. .https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Gide

Hogan, M. 2015. “How to Get Employee Onboarding Right.” May 29. Forbes, www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2015/05/29/how-to-get
.-employee-onboarding-right/#2cae3fb0407b

HR|Onboard. 2017. HR|Onboard. The Five Pillars of a Great Onboarding Program. https://hronboard.me/wp-content/uploads/2017/06
./Five-pillars-of-onboarding.pdf

Lamont, E., and A. Bruce. 2014. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.The Talent Selection and Onboarding Pocket Toolkit.

Maurer, R. 2017. “New Employee Onboarding Guide.” Society for Human Resource Management. www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

64

.-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/new-employee-onboarding-guide.aspx

Pastakia, K., and S. Harrington. n.d. “The Future of Work—A Reorientation Guide.” Deloitte. www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte
./ca/Documents/human-capital/ca-en-future-of-work.pdf

Patel, S. 2015. “How to Create an Effective Onboarding Experience at Your Startup.” March 11. Forbes, www.forbes.com/sites
./sujanpatel/2015/03/11/how-to-create-an-effective-onboarding-experience-at-your-startup

Pignatelli, A. 2016. “What Maslow Would Say About Employee Motivation Today?” , May 8. HR.com www.hr.com/en/magazines
/recognition_engagement_excellence_essentials/may_2016_recognition_engagement/what-maslow-would-say-about-employee

.-motivation-to_inypdzjk.html

Saavides, S., and S. Rogers. 2017. “Onboarding as a Priority on Your Talent Agenda: Why You Need a Future-Proof Approach to the
New Hire Journey.” Deloitte. www2.deloitte.com/nl/nl/pages/human-capital/articles/onboarding-as-a-priority-on-your-talent-agenda

..html

Shim, J.K., and J.G. Siegel. 2010. 5th ed. Hauppaugue, NY: Barron’s Educational Services.Dictionary of Accounting Terms,

SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). 2017. “Managing the Employee Onboarding and Assimilation Process.” SHRM,
March 6. .www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/onboardingandassimilationprocess.aspx

Sullivan, J. 2015. “Extreme Onboarding: How to WOW Your New Hires Rather Than Numb Them.” LinkedIn Talent Blog, July 15.
.https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/2015/07/extreme-onboarding-how-to-wow-your-new-hires-rather-than-numb-them

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:28 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

28

2

Shaping the Future: Why Start an
Onboarding Program?

In This Chapter

• General benefits of an onboarding program
• Benefits for the business
• Benefits for managers
• Benefits for employees
• When onboarding fails and why

Understanding the Benefits of Onboarding
Consider the following facts:

• “A full one third of external hires are not with the organization after two years. … Less than one third
of executives worldwide are positive about their onboarding experience. … Almost one third of
executives who joined organizations as an external hire miss expectations in the first two years. …
Almost one third of employees employed in their current job for less than six months are already job
searching” (Morgan 2017).

• “Formal onboarding increases the chance of keeping a new employee for at least three years by 69
percent” (Lombardi and Laurano 2013).

• “Only one half of new hires rated their onboarding programs highly” (Boatman and Erker 2012).
• “According to a study from Equifax, more than half of all employees who left their job in the past year

did so within the first 12 months” (Forbes 2017).
Onboarding affects business results, and when it goes wrong, it means time and financial losses. These

include company investments in recruitment and selection as well as initial L&D efforts. For example, on
average, companies invest between $4,000 for a frontline employee and $50,000 or more for an executive for
recruitment and selection, including:

• identifying and defining the need for the job
• revising the job description
• creating and announcing the job posting
• receiving, monitoring, and screening resumes
• preparing interview questions and interviewers
• scheduling and conducting interviews
• selecting candidates
• administering assessments (if applicable)
• negotiating employee contracts
• completing background checks
• tailoring benefits
• completing paperwork.

In some instances, the company may have to add travel expenses to interview candidates as well as

C
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

2
0
1
8
.

A
s
s
o
c
i
a
t
i
o
n

F
o
r

T
a
l
e
n
t

D
e
v
e
l
o
p
m
e
n
t
.

A
l
l

r
i
g
h
t
s

r
e
s
e
r
v
e
d
.

M
a
y

n
o
t

b
e

r
e
p
r
o
d
u
c
e
d

i
n

a
n
y

f
o
r
m

w
i
t
h
o
u
t

p
e
r
m
i
s
s
i
o
n

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

p
u
b
l
i
s
h
e
r
,

e
x
c
e
p
t

f
a
i
r

u
s
e
s

p
e
r
m
i
t
t
e
d

u
n
d
e
r

U
.
S
.

o
r

a
p
p
l
i
c
a
b
l
e

c
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

l
a
w
.

EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS
AN: 1896630 ; Davila, Norma, Pina-Ramirez, Wanda.; Effective Onboarding
Account: s4264928.main.eds

29

relocation costs if these are part of the employment offer. In addition, many companies secure the services of
external headhunting services to hire executives, which represents additional costs.

TOOL
The “Recruitment and Selection Task Checklist,” located at the end of this chapter, is useful for verifying that all recruitment and
selection tasks are completed before the new employee arrives.

Unfortunately, many organizations underestimate the value and benefits that a solid onboarding program
provides for the business, managers, and employees regardless of level. However, other companies invest
significantly in onboarding programs. For example:

• Kimberly-Clark’s website introduces potential candidates to its People Philosophy (welcome, dream,
grow, win, celebrate, live well, and give back) so they can explore how to “unleash their power” at
the company. The website also explains the entire application process and includes useful resources,
such as tips for resumes and social media as well as on-site, telephone, and video interviewing. Upon
hiring, new employees have access to another password-protected website that streamlines the
onboarding process by allowing them to complete paperwork before their first day.

• At Zappos, regardless of role, new hires participate in four weeks of customer service training. This
introduces them to the entire process of handling customers. After the first three weeks of training,
Zappos extends “The Offer” to anyone who does not consider themselves a good fit for the company.
This payout, which fluctuates between $2,000 and $4,000, becomes the last screening mechanism for
selecting employees who are best suited for the business before incurring any additional costs.

• At Cleveland Clinic, the video “Empathy Series: The Human Connection to Patient Care” is used to
show how the hospital establishes connections between patients and staff. It is often used as a tool to
promote interest in working at the clinic. “The Cleveland Clinic Orientation Welcome” video
highlights the organization’s culture of caregiving and the high standards to which new employees are
accountable. It’s one of many resources designed for employees across career paths to support their
development and growth.

Effective employee onboarding programs set the foundation for employee engagement beyond those first
months we typically call “the honeymoon period,” where the employee is figuring out what to do and what to
avoid doing in the new workplace. Employees who undergo onboarding programs typically express higher
levels of engagement with their companies and their positions because they feel valued and supported. They
understand their employer’s value proposition and brand because they can see the connection between what
the company says and what it stands for. Employee onboarding programs allow organizations to strengthen
their brand and attract top talent capable of assuming other roles in the future as part of the company’s
succession planning process. The benefits of onboarding extend to the business, managers, and employees.

Benefits to the Business
Employees feel welcomed and valued when companies offer onboarding programs, which typically results in
lower turnover rates. Less turnover, in turn, leads to considerable cost savings in recruiting, selecting, and
training new employees; workforce stability also reduces productivity losses.

Employees are less likely to miss work when they master what they do. Onboarding can ensure a strong
cultural fit, which also translates into lower absenteeism rates. Thus, the organization can expect with a
higher degree of certainty that its workforce will be available to complete the work without having to incur
overtime costs to cover its needs on short notice or to resort to contingency employees on a long-term basis.
In addition to increased costs, companies have to consider the effects of physical and mental fatigue on
employees who work overtime, particularly over extended periods, and the subsequent risks of such practice.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

30

A reputation for solid onboarding programs becomes a competitive advantage for top talent because such
companies are attractive for employees who want to advance in their careers and have options for global
mobility and technology-enhanced opportunities for job flexibility. Through their onboarding programs,
companies demonstrate that they are willing to invest in the development of their employees and their
success from the moment of hiring. Top candidates who can choose where they work and how they work are
more willing to seriously consider what these companies have to offer. Therefore, the overall qualifications
of the candidate pool become more solid, which converts into a better qualified and more competitive
workforce to achieve business results.

Valuable relationships begin to be established during participation in company onboarding programs.
Employees gain a deeper understanding of the company culture and can identify who will be able to support
them as well as whom they will need to support in given situations. Higher levels of collaboration and
communication between employees and across the organization are often a consequence of those initial
contacts. The time that it takes newcomers to be accepted and integrated into the company’s culture shortens
because those interactions foster familiarity.

RESOURCE
In Jeanne C. MeisterThe 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today,
and Karie Willyerd (2010) offer projections about workplace trends that can help you develop practices fitting today’s technological
world.

An up-front investment in an employee’s onboarding, particularly in the role-specific component, leads to
higher levels of productivity in a shorter amount of time. An employee with proper onboarding starts beating
the learning curve at a faster pace from the first day on the job than one without.

Onboarding programs that convey consistent messages about the company’s brand allow employees to
identify with the brand, internalize it, and promote it among internal and external clients. As the company’s
brand comes alive for employees, that positive first impression leads employees to form a stronger bond with
the company itself. Subsequent company brand reinforcement generates a spiraling effect that, in turn, serves
to attract clients and job candidates.

RESOURCE
The video “An Insider Look at Microsoft HK MACH Program for Graduates” includes many testimonials about Microsoft’s
academy and its impact. It highlights the importance of building a culture of collaboration that leverages multiple diverse
development opportunities and technology to empower and support its employees.

Onboarding also allows organizations to address policies, laws, and regulations about harassment,
domestic violence, equal employment opportunities, and occupational health and safety through a single
voice that becomes a mechanism for proactive risk management. When companies spend time discussing

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

31

these issues instead of simply relying on employees reading and interpreting those documents on their own,
not only do they convey the information consistently to all new employees, but they also show that these
issues are important.

An employee’s sense of emotional connection with the business increases as a result of gaining another
perspective about the organization and its culture through a company’s onboarding program. As employees
begin to understand how they can contribute to the success of the business, their level of engagement
increases. Higher levels of employee engagement are consistently associated with higher revenues and
profitability. In the words of industry leader Ken Oehler, global culture and engagement practice leader at
Aon Hewitt (2017): “Improving engagement can pay dividends: a five point increase in employee
engagement is linked to a three point increase in revenue growth the following year.”

PRO TIP
Provide new employees with a firsthand glimpse of what it is like to work at your company by enlisting current employees to share
their experiences.

Further, Gallup’s report for 2015-2016 states that “disengaged employeesState of the American Workplace
cost the country somewhere between $450B and $550B each year.” Thus, investments in employee
onboarding become investments in employee engagement.

RESOURCE
Brian Baker and Brad Warga (2010), in “Building Excitement for Opening Day: A Case Study on New Employee Engagement at
Harrah’s Entertainment,” describe how Harrah’s changed its onboarding program into one that would lead participants to understand
their cultural fit and improve business metrics instead of only developing skills.

Feedback from new employees during onboarding programs gives organizations information about what
they need to address to be more effective to satisfy their emerging talent needs. This unique opportunity to
retrofit the company’s recruitment, selection, and onboarding processes delivers competitive advantages by
allowing companies to anticipate the needs of its current and future workforces. They can use this
information to design mechanisms that address those needs before the competition does, thus increasing the
prospects of having more qualified candidates for positions and reducing the likelihood of new employee
turnover and its associated costs.

When employment is stable, HR staff can spend more time addressing business-related workforce issues
than completing transactions and paperwork. Likewise, management can focus on running the business with
the right people in the right place, instead of constantly worrying about replacements, handling disciplinary
issues related to attendance and productivity, and meeting short-term business needs.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

32

Benefits to Managers
Onboarding is designed to initiate and foster contact between employees and their managers from the start,
thus encouraging communication. Open and honest communication between managers and employees is
important because it’s how managers convey important business information, control the work that is done,
and motivate employees to complete tasks. Communication further influences the outcomes of the
employee-manager relationship, especially when managers can identify the best way to share information
with every employee.

The beginning of the employee-manager relationship during onboarding is the best time for them to
determine what to expect from one another. Role-specific onboarding grants multiple opportunities for
managers to interact with their employees, get to know them, clarify roles, and align expectations. Managers
can optimize the time spent in individual meetings, on-the-job training, and department orientations, as well
as setting up coffee and meal breaks to get to know employees. Time invested at the beginning of the
relationship leads to better understanding of what the manager and the employee need from one another, as
well as what each will give and receive. Clearer definition of role boundaries and greater time spent
producing results are also outcomes of this initial stage of the relationship. In addition, managers can spell
out individual and team responsibilities at the department or unit levels, reinforcing how tasks are distributed
across the team and thus promoting team efforts when these are relevant.

Through planned and unplanned interactions that are part of onboarding, employees and managers learn to
trust one another as they get to know one another. Trust is a fundamental component of the
employee-manager relationship that transcends the boundaries of everyday interactions and often accounts
for that extra discretionary effort from an employee that translates into higher performance, productivity,
loyalty, and engagement. Moreover, trust contributes to creating a safe work environment where managers
and employees can take risks and innovate, knowing that they can rely on one another.

RESOURCE
Stephen Covey (2006) provides the foundations for leaders to create a culture of trust in The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That

. The book takes readers through five waves (self, relationships, organizational, market, and societal) that makeChanges Everything
establishing trust actionable.

Benefits to Employees
Employees meet key individuals within and outside their own departments or units with whom they will
interact throughout their careers during general and role-specific onboarding programs. These interactions go
beyond traditional presentations of ever-changing organizational charts, and contribute to building valuable
relationships that will facilitate their work in their new roles. These relationships may take additional
meanings later on, as employees start to consider different career options within and outside the organization.
For instance, peers from the same department can share information about dos and don’ts in the workplace,
peers from other departments can provide insights on how other areas of the business are run, and supervisors
and managers can become formal or informal mentors.

As employees participate in onboarding programs, they learn what to do and when to do it, thus requiring
less support and increasing their own sense of self-efficacy and self-assurance on the job. Employees who are
comfortable within the culture of their companies and their departments become effective business
contributors and demonstrate higher levels of satisfaction with their positions and companies. When
employees are satisfied with their jobs, they are more likely to stay.

As employees learn more about the company, where it has been, and where it is going, as well as
experience what it is like to work there, they establish a robust link with the organization. A stronger

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

33

connection with the business gives employees a sense of career stability because they see themselves as part
of the present and future of the company. They can also visualize their career path in the company, thus their
commitment to the workplace increases.

Open discussions about company culture and realistic job previews, even before the selection process is
complete, allow potential employees to make better choices about where they want to work, based on their
own experiences and preferences. These discussions let candidates make informed decisions when they
receive an employment offer and later confirm that they made the right choice because they fit well with the
company’s culture. Therefore, any impulse to quit after the first setback diminishes significantly.

RESOURCE
The 2016 Deloitte report challenges onboarding program designers to stay up-to-dateThe New Organizations: Different by Design
on workforce trends.

The bonds employees build during onboarding with their managers and peers also provide a support
system that reduces stress and anxiety levels related to their new roles. When employees know that they can
count on a strong support system of professionals who know what it is like to work in the company and can
offer valuable advice to handle different situations based on lessons learned, they are more capable of
focusing their energies on the tasks at hand and succeed at them.

If Onboarding Fails
Like many other company programs and initiatives, onboarding programs don’t always deliver the expected
results. It is the L&D function’s responsibility to identify the cause if the program fails.

Given onboarding’s significance, a successful program is essential. As you think about your own
company’s onboarding program, you want to avoid any potential pitfalls that could make it unsuccessful.
Even though onboarding programs typically fail because of insufficient planning, time, and resources, there
are other not so obvious reasons that can make a difference in the outcome of your program, including:

• onboarding and reality don’t match
• lack of employee engagement with the onboarding program
• no compelling business case for the onboarding program
• lack of sense of belonging or recognition, especially if the employee is left to have lunch alone
• employee misfit with the company

RESOURCE
Talya N. Bauer’s 2010 report introduces trends and prospective tendencies inOnboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success
onboarding programs that are valuable for program designers who want to prepare their organizations for the workforce of the future.

• ignoring diverse needs, metrics, and accountability
• a “do it yourself” mentality, where no one assumes responsibility or ownership for onboarding

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

34

• programs that focus only on employee benefits
• unavailability, lack of involvement, and lack of guidance from managers
• information overload at a high-speed pace
• misconstruing onboarding as a checklist or time to complete orientation paperwork
• skipping definition and discussion of company expectations, and delaying explanations about how the

employee will contribute to the business
• assuming new employees will understand how their role fits within the organization without providing

detailed information
• assuming unwritten rules are self-evident
• believing that a full agenda of activities and events for the employee to meet key people depending on

the role is unnecessary
• explaining how performance will be evaluated at the time of reviews
• expecting employees to perform the role on their own without giving enough time to develop a basic

level of role mastery.

TOOL
Use the “Onboarding Program Audit Checklist” located at the end of this chapter to audit your program and avoid any pitfalls on
your way to success.

Being Proactive for Success
Onboarding is a process that demands a thorough understanding. By knowing its benefits, you will gain full
ownership of the program. Onboarding is the first step in the employee’s life cycle, whether they are new to
the company or to the role. Because failing in onboarding is not an option, you need to take a proactive
stance to make the program a success.

In the next chapter we will guide you through the five phases to design your onboarding program.

Questions to Explore
• How much does your company invest every time a new employee joins the organization?
• When calculating the investment in a new employee, which tasks does your company include? For

instance, does it include the salaries of HR staff and costs of printing materials?
• What are the most important benefits of onboarding for the business that your company has

identified?
• Has your company acknowledged that onboarding programs have benefits for managers? If so, what

are some examples?
• Has your company considered the potential benefits of onboarding programs for employees? If so,

what are some examples?
• Have any previous onboarding efforts not produced the expected results? If so, what did your

company do?
• What will you tell your company’s management and leaders about the benefits of onboarding?

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

35

Tools for Support

Recruitment and Selection Task Checklist
Use the results of this tool to identify which tasks still need to be completed before the new employee’s
arrival.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

36

Onboarding Program Audit Checklist
Use this checklist to audit your onboarding program and avoid any pitfalls on your way to success. The items
that you check as “no” will point you to factors you need to address to avoid failure. Turn them into action
items to strengthen your program.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

37

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

38

Additional Resources
Aon Hewitt. 2017. 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement: Global Anxiety Erodes Employee Engagement Gains. www.aon.com

./engagement17

Baker, B., and B. Warga. 2010. “Building Excitement for Opening Day: A Case Study on New Employee Engagement at Harrah’s
Entertainment.” Aon Hewitt. .www.aon.com/attachments/harrahs.pdf

Bauer, T.N. 2010. Alexandria, VA: Society for Human Resources ManagementOnboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success.
Foundation.

Boatman, J., and S. Erker. 2012. Development Dimensions International. Global Selection Forecast 2012. www.ddiworld.com/DDI
./media/trend-research/globalselectionforecast2012_tr_ddi.pdf?ext=.pdf

Bradt, G., and M. Vonnegut. 2009. Hoboken, NJ: JohnOnboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time.
Wiley & Sons.

Carmody, K. 2017. “7 Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of an Onboarding Program.” SilkRoad, August 30. www.silkroad.com/blog/7
.-ways-measure-effectiveness-onboarding-program

Cheng, A. 2017. “On Holacracy, Customer Service, and ‘Zappos Anything.’” eMarketer Retail, April 7. https://retail.emarketer.com
./article/zappos-ceo-tony-hsieh-on-holacracy-customer-service-zappos-anything/58e8084eebd4000a54864afc

Cleveland Clinic. 2013. “Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care.” Cleveland Clinic’s Empathy Series, February 27. www
..youtube.com/watch?v=cDDWvj_q-o8

Cooper, B.B. 2018. “Onboarding Best Practices: How the Smartest Companies Turn New Hires Into Great Employees.” Foundr, May 3.
.https://foundr.com/onboarding-best-practices

Covey, S.M.R. 2006. With R.R. Merrill. New York: Free Press.The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything.

Deloitte. 2016. “The New Organizations: Different by Design.” Deloitte University Press. Global Human Capital Trends 2016. www2
..deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/HumanCapital/gx-dup-global-human-capital-trends-2016.pdf

Forbes Coaches Council. 2017. “Seven New Onboarding Strategies You’ll See This Year.”Forbes Community Voice, January 30. www
..forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/01/30/seven-new-onboarding-strategies-youll-see-this-year/#1b9f3f387b4d

Gallup. 2017. “State of the American Workplace.” .https://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx

HCI (Human Capital Institute). 2016. “The Unrecognized Potential of Onboarding and Offboarding: Getting the Most of the On-demand
Economy.” HCI, May 19. .www.hci.org/hr-research/unrecognized-potential-and-boarding-getting-most-out-ondemand-economy

Kimberly Clark. n.d. “Careers.” .www.careersatkc.com

L’Oreal Talent. n.d. “Careers at L’Oreal.” .https://careers2.loreal.com

Lombardi, M., and M. Laurano. 2013. Aberdeen Group. Human Capital Management Trends 2013: It’s a Brave New World. www
..aberdeen.com/assets/report-preview/8101-RA-human-capital-management.pdf

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

39

Meister, J.C., and K. Willyerd. 2010. The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s
New York: Harper Business.Employees Today.

Microsoft HK. 2016. “An Insider Look at Microsoft HK MACH Program for Graduates.” September 8. www.youtube.com/watch?v
.=KoW5FjtUrYU

Morgan, J. 2017. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.The Employee Experience Advantage.

PwC. 2016. December. .The Future of Onboarding. www.pwc.com/il/he/bankim/assets/pwc-the-future-of-onboarding.pdf

Sims, D.M. 2011. New York: McGraw-Hill.Creative Onboarding Programs: Tools for Energizing Your Orientation Programs.

Stein, M.A., and L. Christiansen. 2010. . NewSuccessful Onboarding: A Strategy to Unlock Hidden Value Within Your Organization
York: McGraw-Hill.

WeareDNA. n.d. “Onboarding Website: Kimberly Clark.” Our DNA Case Studies. www.wearedna.co.uk/case-studies/onboarding
.-website-kimberly-clark

Zappos Insights. 2018. “Sharing the Zappos Culture With the World.” .www.zapposinsight.com

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:27 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

65

Y

4

Implementing the Plan: How Do You
Execute an Effective Onboarding Program?

In This Chapter

• Pre-onboarding, general onboarding, and role-specific onboarding
• Differences in role-specific onboarding for individual contributors, managers, executives, and remote

employees
• Logistics for each component
• Communications about onboarding
• Deployment and roll-out options

ou presented the business case for the program and received approval to develop and implement
what you proposed. You now are ready to implement your company’s onboarding program,
equipped with the results of the organizational assessment, the company’s goal for the program, and
the general choices that the company made about which program to pursue.

As a key element of successful talent management strategies, onboarding must be carefully planned,
reviewed, and tailored to meet the needs and background of your audience as well as the current business
strategies and business environment every time it is offered. Pre-onboarding, general onboarding, and
role-specific onboarding will need to be integrated into a seamless continuum.

Onboarding, as a company-wide effort, cannot be accomplished without support from other departments
and business units. Groups such as facilities, information systems, security, payroll, and finance will need to
be involved behind the scenes to make the program successful. Secure their support and involvement to
ensure that they will deliver the services that you need. Involve representatives from those groups in
discussions about the program to receive their feedback and enhance their ownership of the process. Use a
checklist to keep track of what you need from those departments to ensure the flawless delivery of your
program.

TOOL
The “Department Support Checklist,” located at the end of this chapter, will help you track the status of what you need from other
company departments for onboarding.

C
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

2
0
1
8
.

A
s
s
o
c
i
a
t
i
o
n

F
o
r

T
a
l
e
n
t

D
e
v
e
l
o
p
m
e
n
t
.

A
l
l

r
i
g
h
t
s

r
e
s
e
r
v
e
d
.

M
a
y

n
o
t

b
e

r
e
p
r
o
d
u
c
e
d

i
n

a
n
y

f
o
r
m

w
i
t
h
o
u
t

p
e
r
m
i
s
s
i
o
n

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

p
u
b
l
i
s
h
e
r
,

e
x
c
e
p
t

f
a
i
r

u
s
e
s

p
e
r
m
i
t
t
e
d

u
n
d
e
r

U
.
S
.

o
r

a
p
p
l
i
c
a
b
l
e

c
o
p
y
r
i
g
h
t

l
a
w
.

EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS
AN: 1896630 ; Davila, Norma, Pina-Ramirez, Wanda.; Effective Onboarding
Account: s4264928.main.eds

66

General Preparations for Onboarding
Depending on the number of expected hires, their positions, and the extent of the program’s scope, you will
need to consider the elements shown in . Make sure that you script what happens in eachTable 4-1
component with clear roles and responsibilities.

TOOL
The “Onboarding Checklist,” located at the end of this chapter, takes managers step by step through the entire onboarding process,
detailing what they need to do and the topics that they need to discuss.

In these days of technological advances, global connectivity, and job transformations, it is not unusual to
have someone working in Singapore and reporting to someone located in London. Some employees perform
highly specialized functions that do not require frequent face-to-face interactions. Others work this way
because of the nature of the business, and can work from anywhere as long as they meet performance
standards. Nonetheless, all new or new-to-role employees must be onboarded.

Table 4-1. Onboarding Program Design Elements

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

67

Pre-Onboarding
Organizations recruit candidates for positions to meet their current and future business needs. They seek
credentials and experience for success in the position; they also seek cultural fit through the interview
process. HR manages the pre-onboarding phase and partners with the employee’s manager to define the need
for the position and find the best candidate for it. HR also handles all transactions related to employee
benefits, company policies, security, and compliance issues such as leave, work schedule, and the employee
handbook.

The employee’s manager participates in the interviewing process and, because they will be working
directly with the employee, the quality of that relationship will be a determining factor in the employee’s
performance and engagement. The manager’s presence and availability during the onboarding process
delivers a message of welcome and support to the employee.

Assuming that the candidate selected for the position, whether external or internal, met these criteria, the
pre-onboarding phase begins when they accept the offer. This acceptance also marks the start of L&D’s
customization of the general onboarding phase and of the manager’s planning for the role-specific phase,

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

68

based on the profile of each new employee.
Companies can capitalize on the time between the offer acceptance and first day of the new or new-to-role

employee by initiating and maintaining continuity in onboarding. Use this transition time to get to know the
new or new-to-role employee as an individual to begin building trust while HR handles the administrative
tasks, such as completing profiles, registering for benefits, and requesting information from the employee.
Consider granting access to company websites and sharing invitations to targeted company events for those
in managerial and executive positions.

PRO TIP
Have employees complete any new-hire paperwork, whether online or face-to-face, during pre-onboarding to get this task out of the
way.

Through these initial interactions, HR and L&D can identify the employee’s development needs and
learning preferences as well as the most important drivers of the new or new-to-role employee’s engagement
if these did not emerge during the interview process. Some of these drivers for engagement are the
manager-employee relationship, intrinsic motivation, leadership, performance management, career
development, financial or external incentives, organizational image and brand, and brand alignment (Dávila
and Piña-Ramírez 2013). Establishing priorities among those drivers will be useful when tailoring
role-specific onboarding.

The moment when the candidate accepts the employment offer becomes a golden opportunity to provide
company information through a well-crafted welcome packet highlighting the company brand and its
meaning. Consider preparing versions of the packet, or some of its content, in other languages, audio
versions, or larger fonts to address any special needs.

TOOL
At the end of this chapter, you’ll find suggested contents for a new employee welcome packet. You’ll also find a sample email that
less formal workplace environments could use to communicate with the employee to be onboarded.

HR and L&D will continue to gather information valuable to preparing the employee profile for general
onboarding and tailor the proportion of presentations and exercises or interactive activities to suit employee
needs, as well as details for role-specific onboarding.

Every contact with the employee is an opportunity to introduce and reinforce company culture messages;
therefore, everyone who will have contact with the employee has to be ready to serve as company
ambassador 24/7. All employees, regardless of role, must be aware of the importance of onboarding. Share
with them the latest information about the business.

HR communicates the arrival of the new or new-to-role employee to all other interested parties such as
finance, payroll, facilities, security, information systems, and reception. By ensuring identification cards are
issued, system access is granted, telephone services are activated, and tools and equipment are assigned (such
as desk space, cell phones, and computers), HR contributes to that positive first impression.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

69

Other logistics that need to be handled during pre-onboarding include confirming appointments, requesting
documents, sending directions or dropping a pin to make sure that new or new-to-role employees know
where to go, assigning special parking arrangements, setting up conference rooms, and creating welcome
packets and other materials. These all send the message that the company cares about its new employees.
Build in progress and logistics checkpoints to make sure that everything happens when it should.

PRO TIP
Send a welcome note to the employee’s company email address the night before their first day so that they receive it as soon as they
log in to the system.

General Onboarding
L&D leads general onboarding and partners with the employee’s manager. It designs, facilitates, and
monitors the onboarding components across organizational levels and functions. As experts in how people
learn, L&D is the go-to resource of onboarding, able to tailor its components to meet individual needs. HR
has to assume the responsibility of onboarding if the organization does not have an L&D function. If the
organization does not have a formal HR function, managers or company owners have to be responsible for
the onboarding process.

General onboarding is usually designed as a group experience for new or new-to-role employees who have
not been onboarded in the last three to five years or are in supervisory, managerial, or executive roles. This
allows them to come together to begin their assimilation into the company and its culture. A best practice is
grouping employees who perform similar roles because they will likely have questions and concerns that are
irrelevant to those in different roles. Top managers and executives undergo this type of experience through
completely individualized programs.

Capitalize on the new employee’s sense of wonder, pride, and excitement to create a strong bond between
them and the company. This is another opportunity to build on your pre-onboarding successes.

Use every opportunity to reinforce the uniqueness of the company and what it offers. Leave a lasting
positive memory on the onboarded employees to counteract any possibility of buyer’s remorse after
accepting the employment offer. The manager should be there to meet the new employee at the beginning of
the day and then again at the end for a recap of the day’s events; this conversation will likely be shared with
those waiting at home, who will become their supporters during the entire onboarding process.

Let’s meet Ian and see how this works in practice.

Ian’s Story
Ian was eager to start work at a major telemarketer’s call center. He was proud to have been selected from a group of 200 applicants
for one of 20 positions. Because he was assigned to work during the first shift, he could even continue pursuing his undergraduate
degree.

When Ian accepted the offer, his new manager told him that he would first attend a group orientation and then later receive
individualized training to do his job.

Ian arrived on time for the group orientation, but then he had to wait for the receptionist to return to her station. She did not know
about the meeting Ian was scheduled to attend, and did not know whom to contact to find out. Ian waited for more than 30 minutes
before someone who could take him to his meeting arrived. Ian felt disregarded and lost.

The HR generalist who greeted Ian took him to a large empty room with 15 computers. She pointed him to a cubicle and gave him
the code to access the Online Onboarding Portal to complete forms. He had been told he would attend a group session, so he was

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

70

confused and wondered what was going on.

After spending three hours completing forms, Ian got up and went to get lunch by himself because no one was around. When he
returned, he ran into the HR generalist, who said that he should have waited for her to go to lunch, even though no one had said
anything to him about lunch plans.

The HR generalist then took Ian back to the computer room and told him to continue completing the forms. She said someone would
come pick him up at 2:30 to attend a company meeting, but didn’t offer any further explanation.

To minimize the possibility of a new employee having an experience like Ian’s, you’ll need to have
answers to questions such as, who needs to know when a new employee arrives? Who should welcome the
new employee to the organization? What information should the new employee receive before the first day?

Companies often establish hiring-date calendars to structure participation in group sessions before
onboarded employees arrive at their departments or units. We recommend that employees participate in
general onboarding no more than three days after they start, because supervisors and managers are often
reluctant to allow attendance after new employees assume their responsibilities.

Program Content for General Onboarding
A general orientation has to create a “Wow!” experience that can impress a diverse audience; its content has
to include elements that will make it meaningful across the board. As you establish the sequence of your
orientation’s content, be careful to avoid information overload. Divide and sequence the content in ways that
participants can assimilate and own it. Consider structuring the agenda with group sessions in the mornings
and training sessions in the afternoons over three to five days.

Even though regulatory and mandatory training requirements vary by industry and position, in general,
companies train employees on:

• sexual harassment in the workplace
• diversity and inclusion
• safety and security
• emergency management and disaster recovery
• information management and confidentiality
• affirmative action
• handling domestic violence.

Decisions about approximate dates and times must consider critical business periods, such as month-end
closing for finance departments and peak production periods for manufacturing operations. As you build
consistency into your program, participants and stakeholders will be able to schedule their time and anticipate
their involvement accordingly. We recommend having specific dates, such as the second Monday each
month, when the company reaches a particular threshold of new or new-to-role employees.

Organizational history is often the starting point of new employee orientations. They are eager to hear how
the business started and how it became what it is. They also want to know where the company is going, so
the vision of the future must be part of the general orientation. New-to-role employees may have missed
events or dismissed their significance at the time, so this gives them a second opportunity to appreciate them.
Remember, everything is new for them because of the new role. This information, usually presented using a
combination of media, heightens the employee’s sense of belonging. Weave in how the company’s values
emerged, evolved, and are embodied as well as what made the company unique from its inception. Key
policies, practices, and procedures can also be highlighted in this section and then discussed in greater detail
at the department level during role-specific onboarding.

RESOURCE

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

71

For samples of compelling messages about companies, view the following videos:

» Coco—Inside Chanel ( )www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G88zqPxJ00

» The History of Nike Brand Evolution ( ).www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQNgJ2mpW9I

It is important for a company’s senior-level management and executives to participate in the program.
They often welcome attendees and answer questions either in person or through telecommunications or
videos. Their presence adds significance to the organizational history because many often have a prominent
place in that history. Employees may look up to them and, by hearing their stories, envision a future for
themselves in the organization. Living legends—such as a company founder who overcame significant
obstacles or a successor who built on the legacy of the founder to take the business to new heights—make the
organization’s history real and available for all employees. Their consistent participation in onboarding
programs sends a powerful message to the rest of the organization about the program’s importance for the
business.

RESOURCE
Melanie Padgett Powers (2016) shares lessons from government onboarding that you can adapt for your company in her article,
“Power Switch: Onboarding Tips From the Experts Who Help New Presidents Fill 4,000-Plus Positions in Less Than 90 Days.”

As much as possible, avoid having to cancel appointments or presentations at the last minute by scheduling
them well in advance or finding appropriate substitutes during specific business periods. Try to prevent
occurrences like Melody experienced in the following example.

Melody’s Story
Melody was facilitating a session for a group of new employees who had recently joined the team at the mattress factory. They were
all entry-level operators and, for many, this was their first work experience. They were eager to find out more about the company
and hoping to meet its leaders.

After showing a slide with the pictures of all the top managers, Melody mentioned that one was going to come meet the group.
However, in the middle of her presentation, she received a message saying that he would not be able to make it. What a way to make
a first impression! What an awkward situation for Melody!

PRO TIP
Always have personal knowledge about the delivery capabilities of potential top management substitutes and make sure they meet
your standards. Have video messages from key leaders available as backups if a good substitute isn’t available.

Sometimes companies delegate the responsibility of representing top management at events such as
general orientations. Whoever is delegated this responsibility has to be ready and confident to do so at a

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

72

moment’s notice. Otherwise, situations such as the following will require extra efforts to mitigate.

Henri’s Story
Henri had always wanted to represent the company and speak in front of an audience. He had been preparing for a long time and had
even taken acting classes to improve his demeanor onstage. His manager had already recognized Henri’s potential as a successor and
he had an individualized development plan to learn more about the business.

On the morning of the orientation when his manager was scheduled to speak, Henri received a phone call that he would need to step
in and address the group. Henri accepted the challenge without giving it a second thought.

When introduced, Henri approached the front of the room. His hands were sweating and his voice cracked as he began to speak. He
lost his train of thought twice and he had to cut the presentation short. The result? A major setback for Henri because he was not
ready, and an even greater one for the company because the first impression the orientation’s attendees received from top
management was not a good one.

As a general onboarding practice, be prepared to highlight the company’s locations, products and services,
competitors, market share, major awards and recognitions, memorable and recent advertising campaigns,
division contributions, and social responsibility, among other elements, that make the company unique. Bring
samples of products for attendees to see or otherwise experience if your industry segment allows. For
example, a manufacturer of baked goods can bring samples for employees to taste during coffee breaks. A
bank can share promotional materials and videos about its products and services. A hospital can include
patients’ testimonials about their experience.

As employees learn the nature of the business, it is important for them to hear about financials. Introduce
general information about company financials and metrics—trends that affect the business and its growth and
are related to employees. Otherwise, you can include public information about revenues and the company’s
market share and market position.

Include a clear depiction of the company’s strategic mission and reason for being, as well as its vision,
where it wants to be, and how it will lead the way into the future, which will engender a sense of security
among employees. These are central issues for the company because all its activities are driven toward
fulfilling that mission and reaching that vision.

Company values are often the foundation of the company’s culture. All employees need to understand and
believe in them; the general orientation is the first of many instances when values can be brought to life as
presenters model them and share examples of employees who embody them. Examples and stories, whether
through live testimonials, video clips, or exercises, go a long way, especially when conveyed by employees
from different roles and tenures. Allow current employees to discuss what they like about working in the
company and describe what it is like to work there. Ask them to think about examples of when someone is
living a value. Paint a realistic picture—for example, if one of the values is social responsibility, introduce
examples of employees in the company’s community outreach activities.

RESOURCE
Television and film director Vern Oakley outlines tips for creating videos for new hires in the 2017 magazine article “How toTD
Direct Great Onboarding Videos.”

Gail Griswold gives an example of a company that revamped its onboarding program to communicate its culture with a simulated
reality television show in the magazine article “Making New Hires the Star of the Show–Workplace Rx.”TD

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

73

High-level organizational charts allow new or new-to-role employees to pinpoint their place and
relationship within the larger business; they also set the stage to present another perspective of the business (

). Introduce processes and reporting relationships (that is, functional, matrix, or dotted lines) andFigure 4-1
their rationale to give a sense of how the business works. You can also use organizational charts to identify
key internal and external stakeholders and place them in the context of the organization. Include photos to
make connections between faces and roles easier.

Figure 4-1. Sample Organizational Chart

As employees become familiar with the company’s key internal and external stakeholders, they also need
to grasp the differences between and interactions among production and service areas. Understanding who
provides support to whom and who is ultimately accountable to whom will help guide employees to see their
roles and potential contributions to the bigger picture in more general terms.

The company’s leadership culture and how decisions are made is a natural follow-up topic to the general
introduction. Leadership styles, chains of command, preferred ways of address, expected levels of formality,
and expectations when interacting with members of different departments or levels are some recommended
topics for discussion. Likewise, sharing what to expect from a leader and what it takes to be one in the
company can be an aspirational message to new or new-to-role employees. Sharing stories about leaders’
paths, especially reinforcing the value of relationships and networks, reinforces the available career
opportunities within the company that are so important for employee engagement.

Consider using printed or online reference materials as a way to deliver information. Focus presentations
on content that can make an impact on the audience and give participants alternative outlets to learn more
about specific topics of interest, such as job aids and portals. Reinforce critical messages through exercises,
keeping in mind the organization’s culture while designing them. For example, a company built around
customer service across all departments can include role plays or simulations about customer service, such as
having some employees play employees and others the parts of customers or internal clients.

Facilitators are the face of your onboarding program; therefore, they must be chosen wisely. Assess their
subject matter expertise, business knowledge, people skills, and ability to promote learning. Facilitators have
to be able to make even the shiest participants feel comfortable and welcome in a new and sometimes
intimidating environment; they also have to live the brand. Select facilitators who have the critical
competencies outlined in so that they can leave a lasting positive impression on program attendees.Table 4-2

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

74

Table 4-2. Suggested Competencies for Program Facilitators

Competency Purpose

Use of Core Learning
Methods

• Lead large and small groups
• Handle participant questions

Time Management • Adapt to group needs
• Keep the group focused and on task

Create Environment
Conducive to Learning

• Maintain participant involvement
• Ensure participants are comfortable in their surroundings
• Focus participant attention on the program instead of venue details such as temperature

or table size

Evoke Participation • Draw attendees into participating actively
• Foster openness among participants
• Recognize the value of everyone’s input

Maintain Objectivity • Promote balance in participation
• Keep emotions under control

Reading Group Dynamics • Interpret group silence
• Clarify uncertainty
• Defuse negativity
• Discourage arguing and side conversations
• Handle conflict positively

Flexibility • Adapt to the group’s needs within the program’s design
• Redirect the group to the program’s topic without coming across as authoritarian

Consistency in the delivery of that branding message is critical to fostering an understanding of the brand,
what it stands for, and its importance inside and outside the company. Think of the entire onboarding process
as a continuum in the introduction and reinforcement of the company’s brand. Every contact with the
employee is an opportunity to introduce or reinforce the message. The alignment of the materials’ look and
feel, logo, types of activities and exercises, layout of space, office decor, employees’ personal appearance,
facilities’ maintenance, and employees’ personal warmth convey the right brand message.

PRO TIP
If your company has appropriate spaces to hold these group onboarding sessions on its premises, showcase them among the
resources available to employees and to reinforce your company’s brand.

Some of the content of the general onboarding program may have to be tailored to meet the logistical
needs of remote employees. However, we recommend making participation mandatory whenever business
needs allow it, whether in person or by videoconferencing. These general sessions may be one of the few
opportunities for the employee to interact directly with other employees from all levels and experience the
company’s culture firsthand.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

75

Role-Specific Onboarding
The main facilitator in the onboarded employee’s role-specific onboarding is the manager, creating a
welcoming and engaging environment and ensuring that the employee is connected with colleagues.
Similarly, the manager prepares those key stakeholders with whom the new or new-to-role employee will
interact often, as well as with those whose functions are interdependent. Further, managers provide feedback
and coaching to the onboarded employee through the entire process.

The manager should partner with L&D to design an individualized program focused on role understanding
and any specific training needed to perform the role effectively using a variety of learning approaches. For
example, a financial analyst will need to become acquainted with the software used and could shadow
another analyst to see how to complete common transactions before beginning to execute them in the system.
Some of these training needs may be identified during the recruitment and selection process, while others are
standard requirements of the position as stated in its job description. Others may be compliance related, and
still others may be corporate requirements.

The manager or HR could also assign a buddy for the onboarded employee from their new group of peers.
Buddies can offer advice and guidance about day-to-day operations, provide information, and ease the
onboarded employee’s integration into the department and the company through informal interactions for the
first 30 to 60 days. Typically, buddies have a natural tendency to ease the way for onboarded employees;
however, they are not mentors, coaches, or employee managers and should not act as such. At the very least,
buddies provide companionship during lunch and breaks, and facilitate connections with other employees
within and outside the department.

TOOL
Use the “Buddy Competency Selection Checklist,” located at the end of this chapter, to determine if your candidates are suitable for
the role of buddy.

RESOURCE
The human resources support company SaplingHR’s “The Free Buddy Program Playbook” (2017) provides an example of what a
buddy program is and should contain.

Program Content for Role-Specific Onboarding
Content for role-specific onboarding must be tailored to meet individual employee and role needs. Job
descriptions are the starting point to plan this content. If the job descriptions are not up-to-date, ask managers
or supervisors to provide insights about the positions so you can understand the complexities of each and the
needs of employees who hold them. Similarly, supervisors and managers can provide information about
potential career paths for those positions, as well as some basics about general development programs. Job
descriptions, together with learning needs identified during the interview process and pre-onboarding, are the
foundation for the onboarded employee’s individual development plan.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

76

Role-specific onboarding for new employees who have previous experience in your company’s industry
should focus on company branding and differentiation. In contrast, those who do not have experience in your
company’s industry (for example, moving from banking to marketing), need to learn about the industry and
the business from a very basic level.

New employees who have role-specific experience (such as salespeople), whether it was in your industry
or not, need to target differences of the role and culture-specific issues in the company (such as midmarket
versus upscale women’s retail clothing). Those who do not have previous role experience (perhaps they have
never worked in sales), need to go through an intensive program to understand their role in the company’s
context.

Based on the position’s job description and the onboarded employee’s background, the manager should
create an agenda of meetings, events, and training sessions for the onboarded employee, and suggest points
for discussion during those meetings. Managers provide tools and checklists to monitor progress throughout
the role-specific onboarding and serve as a clearinghouse for information and resources for onboarded
employees.

We have organized role-specific content by themes to pave the way for a smooth delivery;
company-specific supporting materials could be made available to employees on the company’s intranet or
on apps. When preparing videos, make sure they explain how the company’s vision emerged, the solutions it
provides for customer problems, the company’s positive and engaging work environment, and ways
employees can grow and develop.

Businesses that do not have these resources available or employees who do not have access to them could
receive printed versions of relevant documents and job aids.

That first day of the role-specific onboarding program marks the onboarded employee’s transition into
their department or unit. After greeting and welcoming them to the department or unit, the manager should
meet with the employee to review the agenda for the remainder of the process.

TOOL
Use the “Simple Onboarding Agenda Sample,” located at the end of this chapter, to start planning your role-specific onboarding
programs.

The first point of business is to set the context for the position and clarify role expectations and goals in
writing with the onboarded employee; role clarity is crucial for job satisfaction from the first day. Some
topics that need to be discussed during that first meeting are:

• performance expectations
• performance evaluations (that is, when, how, and who performs them)
• supervisor’s working style, availability, and communications preferences
• employee’s working style, availability, and communications preferences.

Managers should address the department’s business plans and goals in face-to-face meetings, whether
conducted in person or using virtual meeting technology, and point employees to additional resources such as
documents in the company’s intranet and other repositories. Company policies and practices as well as
workplace culture at the unit level must be part of the overview.

A more detailed description of the department would go beyond organizational charts and include
information on department size, reporting structure, roles and functions, products and services, clients and
their needs, task distribution, current projects, cyclical projects, collaboration, interdependencies with other
departments and units, common acronyms, internal brand, and relationship with corporate. Then include
information such as the department’s reason for being, core processes, and unique contribution to the
business in terms of products, services, and financials.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

77

Present a realistic picture of a typical day in the department or unit from the perspective of the manager
and the team, with real-life examples of the department’s vision, mission, and values and their connection
with those of the overall company. Short testimonial videos could be available in the company’s intranet to
help employees to connect with their peers. Detail how the department gets things done, its traditions and
celebrations (monthly birthday celebrations, recognitions for years of service, holidays), communication
preferences (texts for urgent matters, emails for what can wait, no voicemails), the meaning of open or closed
doors or signs on cubicles, special interest groups and activities customary for the department or unit, and
informal interactions within and outside regular working hours. Lastly, explain administrative issues such as
dress code, scheduling, job flexibility, and emergency response procedures.

PRO TIP
Consistently appeal to what drives the onboarded employee to become engaged based on information gathered during the interview
process.

Address diversity issues as they relate most to the role and to the onboarded employee whether or not the
onboarded employee attended the general orientation. Each company has its own definition of diversity and
its own idea of what diversity means in its work.

Describe how and when to interact with others at different levels in the organization, how much latitude
employees have to go to their supervisors with questions, and how open other leaders are to meeting with
employees for whom they do not have direct responsibilities. This is the time to address when to escalate
issues, what to do when the employee’s supervisor is not available, how open the organization is to the
initiative of employees to assume leadership roles, and how much titles and positions really matter in the
company.

RESOURCE
In the magazine article “The Employee Integration Equation,” Keith Ferrazzi and Tim Davis (2015) discuss the data showingTD
how critical the first six months of a new hire’s employment are. To be successful, an onboarding strategy must be of longer duration
and more employee centered.

In this process, new or new-to-role employees should be able to clarify further their roles in the
organization and what they are expected to do and not do to advance their careers. It is another way to tackle
how much employees can drive their development without overstepping boundaries. Tuition-assistance
programs, tuition-reimbursement programs, specialized trainings and courses, and certifications and licenses
are some examples. Introduce opportunities for cross-training as well as special projects and assignments in
which the onboarded employee could participate.

The program duration of role-specific onboarding will be highly related to the complexity of the role.
Avoid information overload at all costs; spread out the content over time and intersperse individual meetings,

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

78

group meetings, and role-specific training for variety. For example, start and end each day with individual
check-in meetings with the supervisor during the first week. Schedule individual meetings over the course of
several weeks. Allow time between face-to-face and online training for other activities.

PRO TIP
You can involve your stakeholders in onboarding and make them accountable by allocating onboarding costs to each department’s
budget.

Consider creating content related to the topics mentioned previously in the company’s intranet with titles
such as “Knowing Our Department,” “Knowing Our Department’s History,” “A Day in the Life of Our
Department,” “Knowing How We Work,” “Knowing What to Do,” “Diversity in Our Department,”
“Knowing Our Leadership Culture,” and “Owning Your Development,” so employees can review specific
content. Keep it up-to-date.

Role-Specific Onboarding for Managers
L&D faces higher stakes with role-specific onboarding for managers because managers will go on to
influence groups of employees whether or not they are direct reports. Factors such as previous experience in
the role, company, industry, or elsewhere, as well as tenure in the company when the manager is new to the
role, have to be carefully weighed when deciding on the specific components for each manager’s
role-specific onboarding and their relative importance. Any areas where the onboarded manager lacks
experience will demand more intensive attention.

Let’s meet Phyllis.

Phyllis’s Story
Phyllis is a store manager for Makeup-for-all-of-Us. She has been tasked with onboarding Luigi, who was the last salesperson to join
her team before the busy holiday shopping season. Phyllis became a store manager approximately three months ago, but she was
never onboarded, and this is her first experience as a manager. She previously served as purchasing supervisor for the company at
their main office.

Given this situation, Makeup-for-all-of-Us decided to have Luigi participate in the onboarding program at another store. The
manager of that store has been with the company for three years and a top performer for the last two. Phyllis was invited to observe
Luigi’s onboarding so that she could replicate the process with other employees in the future.

What a great start for Luigi and Phyllis!

Many organizations assume that, because someone has performed a management role in the past, they
know what it takes to perform that role in a new context. Overlooking the uniqueness of the new role in the
context of the organization can be a costly mistake. Beyond undergoing their own onboarding process, the
onboarded managers will also have to transition the team that they inherit and establish themselves as the
new leader. This situation is particularly challenging under conditions of organizational restructuring or
reorganizations.

Internal role changes, particularly those entailing promotions into managerial roles, entail a separate set of
issues. In Phyllis’s case, a former peer is becoming a supervisor, which requires additional support from her
new manager, her mentor, L&D, and HR. The onboarded manager needs to learn how to redefine relationship
boundaries with former peers. This can be challenging, especially if she was close with her former peers,

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

79

because they might feel excluded when she is handling confidential information and other situations that can
only be shared with her new peers and above. In addition, she will have to maintain equity and objectivity at
all times and avoid giving any impression of preferential treatment to her former peers.

RESOURCE
In her book Sharlyn Lauby (2016) focuses on theManager Onboarding: Five Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success,
importance of designing an onboarding program specifically for managers to get started on the path to success instead of waiting for
an incident, such as a layoff, a reorganization, or even death, to react and provide training. Such a proactive approach is particularly
valuable for new managers whose circumstances change radically after being promoted from within.

The onboarded manager’s manager will have to address any decisions to hire externally instead of
promoting internally individually with those who applied for or believed they were entitled to the position.
Selecting one internal candidate over another may result in emotional reactions from those who were not
promoted, especially if the chosen person then becomes the supervisor or manager of those individuals.
When an internal promotion occurs, other managers in the company will also require attention during the
transition (even if they participated in the promotion decision), because they will need to begin seeing the
new manager as their peer. Therefore, the onboarded manager’s manager should work with HR and L&D to
clarify expectations about that fine line that exists between employee and supervisor among the onboarded
manager, their former peers, and their new peers, who will now become their reference group.

Whether the onboarded manager is a new or a new-to-role employee, their manager will also address any
challenges related to the business and the internal dynamics of the direct reports during role-specific
onboarding. How the position became available (in the case of a new employee) and the management style of
the former manager should also be topics of discussion because, unavoidably, the new manager will be
compared with the former one. Raising these issues with the onboarded manager will also be relevant
because of the shift in relationships (from direct report to peer), subsequent changes in perspective, and
access to information.

The type of training and its duration will depend on the onboarded manager’s level of experience and
background. Another consideration is company expectations for future development, in the case of
high-potential employees who were hired to track to senior management roles. Depending on the complexity
of the role and company, new managers may participate in local and corporate training.

Many of the onboarded manager’s learning experiences will take place during interactions across the
organization, which will be critical for current and future roles. For example, senior management will gauge
their potential to join their ranks in the future. To facilitate these interactions, the onboarded manager’s
manager should select and assign a mentor with at least three years of experience in the role and in the
company to support the manager for about three months. The mentor will be the new manager’s guide to
understanding unwritten business rules that include official and nonofficial chains of command, expected
work hours, allowed risk taking, relationship building, and social events. The mentor will also provide
support in terms of influence, execution, conflict management, recognition, and values, and will become an
early warning system to reduce risks that could harm the onboarded manager’s career.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

80

TOOL
Use the “Mentor Competency Selection Checklist,” located at the end of this chapter, to determine if your candidates are suitable for
the role.

By the end of the first week on the job, new managers should at a minimum begin to schedule individual
meetings with their direct reports, followed by the rest of the team.

Role-Specific Onboarding for Executives
Based on our experience, companies tend to believe that executives do not need onboarding because they are
ready for their roles or they would be ashamed if they are asked to participate in onboarding. Therefore,
executive onboarding is a topic that’s not addressed, even though unsuccessful executive onboarding has an
average cost of 30 percent of an employee’s annual salary, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
(Fatemi 2016). Further, according to a study from the Center for Creative Leadership, “estimates of outright
failure in the first 18 months range from 38 percent to over half, and many more executives fail to be as
successful as was predicted in the hiring or promotion phase” (Riddle 2016). An HR in Asia article by Nurlita
(2017), referring to the same study, argues that the answer to this problem lies in its onboarding program.
Therefore, executives, like all employees, benefit from a structured onboarding program even if the program
and key players are different.

RESOURCE
In the article “Onboarding Isn’t Enough,” Mark Byford, Michael D. Watkins, and Lena TriantogiannisHarvard Business Review
(2017) provide solid arguments in support of executive onboarding. Cheryl Ndunguru’s article “ExecutiveThe Public Manager
Onboarding: How to Hit the Ground Running” (2012), focuses on what organizations can do to reduce the likelihood of executive
failure in the federal government. Her insights can be adapted to nongovernment organizations.

The vice president or director of HR usually handles all matters related to executive onboarding off-site to
maintain confidentiality, especially when the incoming executive is an external hire who was likely recruited
through an external headhunting firm. Often the incoming executive begins onboarding before the current
one leaves or even knows they will leave. By the time the incoming executive arrives in the office, they have
to be fully knowledgeable about the business and its culture and ready to deliver business results
immediately. Other company executives and groups, such as boards of directors, work with the incoming
executive to complete a customized development plan using a combination of delivery methods and
resources, such as leadership tools, key stakeholder meetings, new leader-team integration events, executive
networking forums, and 360-degree assessments and simulations. The goal of these activities is to:

• Ensure the executive’s cultural fit in the company.
• Build relationships with other executives.
• Provide political savviness and guidance about unwritten rules.
• Spell out workplace terms and conditions.
• Inform about organizational structure.
• Assist in building the team.

When the incoming executive is promoted internally as part of a succession plan, their manager will also
implement a customized development plan. Depending on the industry and the role, this plan may include
experiences such as direct role and technical knowledge transfer, attending meetings, leading projects, taking
assignments at other locations, assuming other roles, and attending executive training programs.

The entire role-specific onboarding process for executives, whether external hires or internal promotions,
typically lasts between six months and a year.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

81

RESOURCE
Douglas Riddle (2016), in provides powerful statistics aboutExecutive Integration: Equipping Transitioning Leaders for Success,
the rates of executive success and what companies should do to onboard their executives.

The services of an external executive coach are usually contracted to assist in the incoming executive’s
highly tailored and customized transition process, whether an external hire or promoted employee, and serve
as a sounding board. External executive coaches assist with the integration process into the company culture
and emphasize leveraging strengths, managing potential blind spots, stakeholder mapping, and structuring
processes. They also raise provocative questions and provide a critical external perspective within a safe
environment.

The differences in roles for role-specific onboarding discussed so far pertain to employees, regardless of
level, who are at the same location. Onboarding remote employees requires additional adjustments in roles,
as introduced in the following section.

TOOL
Use the “Executive Coach Competency and Skills Selection Checklist,” located at the end of this chapter, to determine if your
candidates are suitable for the role.

Role-Specific Onboarding for Remote Employees
In general, the content for a remote employee’s role-specific onboarding is similar to that of anyone else
performing the role on-site. However, the onboarded employee has to be held accountable to the same
standards as those who have more traditional work arrangements. Buddies or mentors may also be assigned at
the local office where the remote employee works, thus gaining additional significance because they can
provide information about housing, schools, basic services, and cultural norms. Counterparts at the home
office will offer supplementary information and foster that sense of connection with the rest of the team.

PRO TIP
Make sure that at least one co-worker, peer, or direct report of a remote employee sends an email or makes a phone call to connect
with the employee and see how they’re doing each day; maintaining contact between the remote employee and the rest of the team
fosters a sense of belonging.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

82

Role-specific onboarding is also the best time to establish company expectations of the remote employee’s
participation in events at the main office or the office to which they report. Including the employee in
meetings and other business affairs, considering time differences and any other geographical issues, and
coming up with creative inclusive ideas for celebrations and other workplace traditions to ensure the remote
employee’s participation are ways to maintain contact during and after role-specific onboarding.

The challenges of conducting role-specific onboarding for these employees lie in adapting the content and
handling the logistics to deliver the content. Nothing substitutes for direct personal contact regardless of
group size. Online communication tends to be best for completing forms and some training sessions; it is also
the primary training delivery option for remote employees. If your company prefers delivery through online
programs, limit the session duration to no more than two hours and a maximum of four hours per day. Use a
variety of teaching tools and direct interactions when you design online programs. Tailor the information to
the media that you use, keeping in mind the best way to chunk information based on the media’s
characteristics, such as number of characters or words allowed. Make sure that all information is
self-explanatory.

Logistics for Onboarding
When designing onboarding programs, you’ll need to make many decisions about the logistics, including
venue selection, room temperature, room lighting, sound systems, room setup, refreshments, snacks, meals,
parking arrangements, audio-visual equipment, computers for online trainings or transactions,
videoconferencing and Internet connectivity or systems access, printed materials, promotional materials,
special needs of attendees (for example, ramps, larger fonts, or dietary restrictions), and special
accommodations (such as security staff for certain members of top management). Use company facilities and
resources as much as possible, considering the number of attendees as well as the types of activities and
exercises based on the group’s profile. However, if your company lacks the appropriate space, find the right
venue and use it regularly; familiarity with the locale and its staff will be beneficial because they will be able
to anticipate your needs as a regular client.

Role-specific onboarding takes place mainly at the department or unit level. However, aspects such as
reserving rooms for private meetings (particularly in open-office layouts), finding appropriate restaurants for
those important “let’s get acquainted” lunches, and all other preparations have to be in place before
onboarding begins.

Individual meetings need to be coordinated in advance and participants have to be aware of their role.
Schedule meetings at the hosts’ offices so the onboarded employee can become familiar with the different
areas of the business. If the organization is spread among several buildings or locations, schedule several
meetings that will take place at the same building for a morning or an afternoon to minimize travel time.

Logistics gain additional salience for role-specific onboarding for remote employees. They’ll need to learn
how to optimize the technology they’ll use to work remotely. The availability of online resources and these
employees’ time at the headquarters or office to which they report has to be leveraged for the particular
learning experiences required. Still, the manager should make special efforts to conduct initial contacts in
person to develop the manager-employee relationship.

The manager has to hold group meetings using technology, touch base with the employee personally
during business trips, and convene the entire team to interact directly on a regular basis, also relying mostly
on technology.

Communicating About New Arrivals
Preparations for the arrival of the new employee include setting in motion a series of activities that require
the participation of different departments. Be advised that some appointments or business situations, such as
replacements at the executive level, may require maintaining higher levels of confidentiality and discretion.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

83

PRO TIP
Communicate the arrival of every new or new-to-role employee across the organization. Personalization matters!

Sharing the news about a new or new-to-role employee is more effective when you’ve planned the process
out in advance. It’s also helpful to use different media for the announcements; for example, some companies
have electronic bulletin boards while others use a more traditional format such as posters.

A cascade model is best used when managers are the first to know about the new employee, possibly
because they participated in the selection process. The next communication layer should be the department
the onboarded employee is joining; that group should receive the news before the rest of the organization.
Make sure the manager communicates the new employee’s starting date, position, and background, as well as
how they will be an asset for the team and for the business.

TOOL
Use the “Sample Email Announcement,” located at the end of the chapter, to communicate the arrival of a new employee to the
organization.

After that meeting, have the manager write an organization-wide announcement for HR to release using
the customary means, ranging from printed to electronic communication, as well as updates to relevant
directories. The announcement should include who is joining the company, the position or role, general
background information, and some details of what you would like others to know about the person. Keep it
short, simple, and memorable; stay away from flowery language, jargon, and longwinded biographical
sketches. Remember that everyone in the organization will receive this information. Prepare a more detailed
bio of no more than 75 words to post on the intranet or for specific groups.

PRO TIP
Create a new-hire webpage or tab in your company’s intranet with useful information for the new employee, such as nearby services
like ATMs, transportation alternatives, childcare, and food delivery.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

84

Understanding the Timing of Implementation
Implementing the onboarding program is as important as designing it. Onboarding consists of
pre-onboarding, general onboarding, and role-specific onboarding. Each one of these components has its own
timing and contributors. Strategically articulating each one’s contributions will make a difference in the
employee’s experience, which must be tailored according to their role in the company. In the next chapter,
we will discuss what you need to do to gather data to evaluate your program.

Questions to Explore
• What will you do to ensure the support of the other departments for the onboarding program?
• What program components have you considered for your onboarding program?
• Does the company see the value of pre-onboarding? If not, what will you do to influence key

stakeholders?
• How do the materials that your company provides to new employees reflect the company’s brand?

What can you do to improve them?
• Have you built progress and logistical checkpoints in your company’s onboarding program?
• How does your company communicate the arrival of a new employee? What can be done differently?
• What topics do you include in your company’s new employee orientation? What don’t you include?

Why?
• What competencies do you look for in your onboarding facilitators?
• How do managers participate in your company’s role-specific onboarding?
• How do your company’s employees respond to having a buddy or mentor?
• What is the main driver of employee engagement among your company’s new employees?
• How is role-specific onboarding different for individual contributors, managers, executives, and

remote employees? How is it similar?
• How does your company customize the content of its role-specific onboarding for each position?
• How will you convince managers, who are already overwhelmed with work, of the importance of

role-specific onboarding and their responsibility in its success?
• If you were your company’s owner, what would you like the onboarding program to include?

Tools for Support

Department Support Checklist
Use this checklist to track the status of what you need from other company departments for onboarding
programs.

Department Task Status

Information Systems Grant access to systems

Assign computer

Assign telephone extension

Assign cellular telephone

Create email account

Create other media accounts

Security or HR Issue identification card

Issue key card access

Personnel/Payroll Receive payroll processing and payment information

Facilities Assign workspace

Prepare workspace

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

85

Assign lockers/storage

Reserve parking space

Grant parking access

Human Resources Obtain uniforms (if required)

Obtain specialized tools and equipment

Obtain individualized materials for the workspace

Request business cards

Assign company vehicles

Handle relocation

Onboarding Checklist
Use this checklist to go through the entire onboarding process. It details what you need to do and the topics
you need to discuss.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

86

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

87

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

88

Suggested Contents for Welcome Packet
The following items are helpful to include in the new employee welcome packet:

• Welcome letter and HR documents
• Map of the company
• Handouts, policies, and procedures for review and acknowledgment
• General benefits information
• Marketing materials

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

89

• Reference to company’s websites and links
• Company contact list
• Dates to remember
• Contact information for the help desk and other support (if applicable)

Sample Email Communication With Employee to Be Onboarded
The following is an example of an email to send to new employees once they’re hired, but before their first
day.

Subject: Next Week’s Onboarding Information

Christine,

We are glad to welcome you to the office next week! Here is everything that you need to know about employee
onboarding at IR Sound Corp.

Your First Day and How to Find the Office
When you arrive on Wednesday (please come in around 9:30 a.m.), I will be there to get you settled. We’ll get
started with your onboarding and I will introduce you to some basics about our business. You will begin to get to
know our global team (yes, we are global, we have offices in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, and London),
how we communicate, our systems, and our sound technology. Following are some details about how to find our
main office.

[Insert map and directions or drop a pin]

Let’s Get Started
When you come in on Wednesday, you will find your computer ready. You will receive your username and a
temporary password so that you can get set up following our security checklist. Your ID is ready for you in the
security office.

Office Practices
We usually wear casual clothes in the office, so feel free to wear sneakers. Your company polos with our logo will
arrive in a week.

We try to have lunch together as a team in our fully equipped lunchroom around 1-1:30 p.m.; there are snacks
around the office in case you get hungry before then. You may bring your own food or get carryout from one of the
nearby eateries.

You and I will have coffee at 3 p.m. at the IR Cafe. The team also wants to take you out for dinner on Wednesday
night! Look for a calendar invite from Leo for details.

Meeting the Team
You will meet the team on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. You’ll also have onboarding meetings with team leads during
the rest of your first week. Of course, you will spend quite some time with [Name of direct supervisor].

Please let me know if you have any questions before then! Feel free to call, text, or WhatsApp me at 123-345-5678.

Welcome!

Iván

Onboarding and Engagement Manager

Buddy Competency Selection Checklist
Use this checklist to determine if your candidates will work well as buddies.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

90 EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

91

Simple Onboarding Agenda Sample
Use this sample agenda to start planning your role-specific onboarding programs.

Day 1

Activity Schedule

Welcome by manager 8 a.m.

Overview of the day 8:30-9 a.m.

Knowing our department 9-10 a.m.

Tour of the department or unit and introduction to team 10-11:30 a.m.

Getting acquainted with your office 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Lunch with manager 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Role expectations and goals 1:30-3 p.m.

Time at your desk 3-4:45 p.m.

Closing and feedback of first day with manager 4:45-5 p.m.

Day 2

Activity Schedule

Welcome by manager 8 a.m.

Check-in with new employee about the first day 8:15-8:45 a.m.

A day in the life with the team: knowing how we work 8:45-9:45 a.m.

Time at your desk 9:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Lunch with the team 12:30-2 p.m.

Online training: XXX System 2-4 p.m.

Informal interaction with mentor or buddy 4-4:30 p.m.

Closing and feedback of second day with manager 4:30-4:45 p.m.

Day 3

Activity Schedule

Welcome by manager 8 a.m.

Check-in with new employee about the second day 8:30-9 a.m.

Around the office: Meet key people in your department 9-10:30 a.m.

Knowing your mentor or buddy 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Time at your desk 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Lunch with your mentor or buddy 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Buddy: Planning for the second week and beyond 1:30-2 p.m.

Shadow a peer to learn best practices 2-3:30 p.m.

Read product guides 3:30-4:45 p.m.

Closing and feedback of third day with manager 4:45-5 p.m.

Mentor Competency Selection Checklist
Use this checklist to help you determine if your candidates will be suitable mentors.

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

92 EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

93

Executive Coach Competency and Skills Selection Checklist
Use this checklist to determine if your candidates are suitable for the role of executive coach.

Name:

Selection Criteria Yes No

Communicator

Good at Questioning

Trustworthy

Maintains Confidentiality

Manages Stress

Knowledgeable About Team Building

Accessible

Active Listener

Experienced

Objective

Certified

Previous Executive Coaching Experience

Sample Email Announcement
Use a version of this sample email to share a new employee’s arrival and contact information.

To: All Employees

Cc:

Bcc:

Subject: Welcoming Ana Irma Smith

I’m very pleased to announce that Ana Smith will be joining us as diversity and inclusion manager on .[date]

Ana will be responsible for all diversity and inclusion initiatives, strategies, and programs. Diversity and inclusion
are integral to the excellence and success of our association, but they are especially vital for the strength of our
goals. [Include information about what people need to know.]

Please come to to meet Ana and welcome her to our team.[location]

You can reach Ana at:
[office location]
[office number or ext.]
[mobile number]
[email address]
[intranet code]
[Skype code]

Best Regards,

[Name of Manager]

Additional Resources
AON. 2017. .2017 Trends in Global Engagement. www.aon.com/engagement17

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

94

ATD Staff. 2015. “Making New Hires the Star of the Show.” May. TD, www.td.org/magazines/td-magazine/making-new-hires-the-star
.-of-the-show

Bevegni, S.H. 2015. Linkedin Talent Solutions, October 1. Kit de incorporación de personal. https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam
./business/talent-solutions/regional/es-es/c/pdfs/Onboarding-in-a-Box_ES_FORMS_FINAL.pdf

Biech, E. 2017. Alexandria, VA: ATD Press.The Art and Science of Training.

Byford, M., M.D. Watkins, and L. Triantogiannis. 2017. “Onboarding Isn’t Enough.” May-June.Harvard Business Review,

Chanel. 2013. “Coco–Inside Chanel.” September 12. .www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G88zqPxJ00

Crebar, A. 2018. “Top 7 Employee Onboarding Programs.” Sapling, April 15. www.trysapling.com/resources/top-7-employee
.-onboarding-programs

Dávila, N., and W. Piña-Ramírez. 2013. Alexandria,Cutting Through the Noise: The Right Employee Engagement Strategies for You.
VA: ASTD Press.

DGS (Delta Global Staffing). 2016. July 15. Associate Onboarding Manual: Everything You Need to Know. http://deltaglobalstaffing
..com/images/pdfs/dgs-associate-a1-onboarding-manual-01.pdf

Fatemi, F. 2016. “The True Cost of a Bad Hire—It’s More Than You Think.” September 28. Forbes, www.forbes.com/sites/falonfatemi
./2016/09/28/the-true-cost-of-a-bad-hire-its-more-than-you-think/#3152d2454aa4

Ferrazzi, K., and T. Davis. 2015. “The Employee Integration Equation.” 69(10): 57-60. TD www.td.org/magazines/td-magazine/the
.-employee-integration-equation

KPMG. 2017. “New Director Onboarding.” KPMG Board Leadership Center, September 24. https://boardleadership.kpmg.us
./boardroom-resources/resources-directors/new-director-onboarding.html

Lauby, S. 2016. Alexandria, VA: SHRM Press.Manager Onboarding: Five Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success.

Locke, E., and Associates. 2014. “Onboarding Coaching.” Ellis Locke & Associates, February 24. http://ellislocke.com/services
./coaching/onboarding-coaching

Lynn University Employee Services. 2011. “New Employee Onboarding Program.” Lynn University, June 9. https://my.lynn.edu/ICS
./icsfs/Onboarding_Process.pdf?target=9ee8e458-a8d8-4ada-a874-17190a5dd1e9

Martin, M. 2010. “Set Up an Efficient Onboarding Process for New Employees.” Dummies, May 10. www.dummies.com/business
./human-resources/employee-engagement/set-up-an-efficient-onboarding-process-for-new-employees

Meirest, D. 2016. “Game On: Don’t Leave Your Onboarding Success to Chance.” 60(15): 104-107.HR Magazine

Ndunguru, C. 2012. “Executive Onboarding: How to Hit the Ground Running.” Fall. The Public Manager, www.td.org/magazines/the
.-public-manager/executive-onboarding-how-to-hit-the-ground-running

Nurlita. 2017. “Onboarding Senior Leadership: Things to Consider for HR Managers.” HR in Asia, April 14. www.hrinasia.com
./recruitment/onboarding-senior-leadership-things-to-consider-for-hr-managers

Oakley, V. 2017. “How to Direct Great Onboarding Videos.” 71(9): 26-29.TD

Padgett Powers, M. 2016. “Power Switch: Onboarding Tips From the Experts Who Help New Presidents Fill 4,000-Plus Positions in
Less Than 90 Days.” 61(7): 60-66.HR Magazine

Pennsylvania State Human Resources Office. 2014. HR Service Center, May 21. HR Office’s Onboarding Handbook. www.hrm.oa.pa
.gov/hire-sep/Hiring/Documents/onboarding-handbook-hr.pdf

Riddle, D. 2016. Center for Creative Leadership whitepaper. Executive Integration: Equipping Transitioning Leaders for Success. www
.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ExecutiveIntegration.pdf

Sapling HR. 2017. “Free Buddy Program Playbook.” Sapling Google Doc. https://docs.google.com/document/d
./1ICBxJ7wJV523BYw4uqlD4_wQBlRhNP6WW2JuLK6dkv8/edit

Slavov, N. 2014. “The History of Nike—Brand Evolution.” November 19. .www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQNgJ2mpW9I

U.S. Office of Personnel Management. 2011. OPM,Hit the Ground Running: Establishing a Model Executive Onboarding Program.
October 1. www.opm.gov/WIKI/uploads/docs/Wiki/OPM/training/Hit_the_Ground_Running_Establishing_a_Model_Executive

._Onboarding_Framework_2011.pdf

Valve. 2012. Valve Handbook for New Employees: A Fearless Adventure in Knowing What to Do When No One’s There Telling You
Bellevue, WA: Valve Press. .What to Do. www.valvesoftware.com/company/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf

Vargas, J. 2013. “Generation Y Yearns for Challenging and Satisfying Government Work.” 67(3): 58-62.TD

Westwood, R., and L. Johnson. 2011. “Onboarding for Managers.” . Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.Infoline

Zenefits. 2016. “The Definitive Guide to Onboarding: The First 30 Days.” Zenefits, March 17. www.zenefits.com/get/ultimate

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

95

.-onboarding-guide

EBSCOhost – printed on 2/2/2022 11:29 AM via UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GLOBAL CAMPUS. All use subject to https://www.ebsco.com/terms-of-use

1

New Employee Onboarding–

Psychological Contracts and Ethical Perspectives

Abstract

Purpose – This paper clarifies the importance of Human Resource Professionals (HRPs) improving the
onboarding and assimilation of new employees and explains why this important task is so essential as
part of the psychological contract between employers and those new organization members.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper is a conceptual paper that identifies a problem based upon
findings in the management literature, explains the nature of psychological contracts and ethical duties,
and identifies action steps for improving the new employee onboarding process.

Findings – The paper identifies a ten.-step model for improving employee onboarding and explains why
HRPs and those who oversee them need to reexamine their assimilation of new organization members.

Originality/value – This paper contributes to the management literature by addressing a major problem
that is poorly managed in many organizations. The mismanagement of this important onboarding
process undermines organization effectiveness, decreases trust, and violates the psychological contract
held by new employees about the organization’s duties owed to them.

Key Words: Employee Onboarding, Employee Assimilation, New Employee Orientation, Psychological
Contract, Duties of Human Resource Professionals.

2

New Employee Onboarding–

Psychological Contracts and Ethical Perspectives

Assimilating new employees into an organization is an important task of Human

Resource Professionals (HRPs) and an essential element of their responsibilities as technical

experts in their discipline (Huselid, et al., 2009, pp 196-199). Ineffective onboarding destroys

benefits achieved by hiring talented employees and increases the likelihood that the hard work

spent in recruiting and selecting those employees will be wasted (Smart, 2012). Because many

organizations view their onboarding process as an expense rather than an investment, they

adopt a short-sighted approach to the process. The predictable result from this false economy

is that the transition into the organization for new employees will be painful–leading to

potential underperformance, minimizing the organization’s capability to fully utilize the skills

and abilities of these new employees.

The purposes of this paper are 1) to identify why improving this important Human

Resource Management (HRM) function greatly benefits those new employees and the

organization itself, 2) to clarify the ethical obligations implicit in new employee onboarding, and

3) to provide top managers and HRPs with a model for improving the new employee

onboarding process that meets the ethical expectations and psychological contracts of

incoming employees. The paper begins with a brief explanation of the onboarding process and

the nature of the psychological contract that exist between an organization and its employees.

Building upon a model introduced by the University of Michigan ethics scholar, Larue Hosmer, it

3

then presents twelve ethical perspectives that identify how employees perceive the nature of

their onboarding process. The paper then introduces a ten-step model for conducting a top

quality onboarding process, identifying how each of those steps honors the ethical expectations

of the psychological contracts of new employees. The paper concludes with the contributions

of this paper.

The Onboarding Process

Onboarding is the process of introducing a new employee into his or her new job;

acquainting that employee with the organization’s goals, values, rules and policies, and

processes; and socializing the employee into an organizational culture (Watkins, 2016).

Wanous and Reichers (2000) explained that the new employee orientation process occurs while

employees are under a tremendous amount of stress. The typical new employee onboarding

process provides employees with a volume of information that is overwhelming, impractical,

and impossible for new employees to incorporate within a short period of time. In compiling

research about the state of the art of employee onboarding, Srimannarayana (2016) noted that

some organizations included too many complex tasks and information for employees to

realistically digest while other organizations offered too few items that fail to adequately

prepare employees.

Bauer (2010) has explained that an effective onboarding process included four critical

building blocks to improve performance, inoculate against turnover, and increase job

satisfaction:

4

• Compliance: This building block is the lowest level of onboarding and includes reviewing
or teaching employees about basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations
associated with working in the new organization.

• Clarification: This key function ensures that employees understand their new jobs and
all its related expectations. Frequently, this function is poorly handled and lacks
specificity.

• Culture: Providing employees with a sense of formal and informal organizational norms
is often overlooked because members of the organization assume that the
organization’s values, assumptions, and norms are easily understood.

• Connection: This key activity refers to creating vital interpersonal relationships and
explaining information networks essential for employees to perform successfully.

Unfortunately, Acevedo and Yancey (2010, 349) concluded that most organizations do a

mediocre job of assimilating new employees and, few organizations utilize its full scope or

potential.

Bauer (2010) explained that effective onboarding has short-term and long-term benefits

for both the new employee and the organization, noting that employees effectively assimilated

into an organization have greater job satisfaction and organizational commitment, higher

retention rates, lower time to productivity, and have greater success in achieving customer

satisfaction with their work. In contrast, poor onboarding leads to lower employee satisfaction,

higher turnover, increased costs, lower productivity, and decreased customer satisfaction.

Holton (2001, 73) noted in his study of factors associated with onboarding that “(t)he most

important tactic (for effective onboarding) was allowing new employees to fully utilize their

skills and abilities.” Unfortunately, most organizations focus on establishing managerial control

systems rather than on building commitment and empowering employees (cf. Pfeffer, 1998).

Onboarding and the Psychological Contract

5

The employment relationship is inherently an interpersonal relationship with profound

ethical implications associated with HRM (Hosmer, 1987). That relationship is based upon social

exchange theory in which the employer pays money to the employee in exchange for his or her

services (Cropanzano & Mitchell, 2005). The expectations in this relationship frame the

psychological contract that exists between the two parties – a contract that is typically

unwritten and that rarely perfectly coincides but reflects the reciprocal obligations of the

parties (Rousseau, 1995; Robinson & Rousseau, 1994). Consistent with expectancy theory, new

employees are also concerned about 1) how they will benefit as an organization member, and

2) whether it is feasible for them to obtain promised outcomes (Shea-Van Fossen &

Vredenburgh, 2014). The implied psychological contract between employers and employees

has evolved over the past several decades (Pfeffer, 1998), but a growing body of evidence

confirms that employers who create relationships with employees based upon high trust create

organizational cultures in which employees exhibit increased extra-role behavior, are more

creative and innovative, and more profitable than employees in comparable organizations (cf.

Beer, 2009).

Well qualified employees who add the greatest value, or create the most organizational

wealth, for their employers expect to be treated with dignity and respect; given the

opportunity to advance in their organizations; be treated as valued “owners and partners” in

improving the organization; and valued as “Yous,” or as unique individuals, rather than as “Its,”

or fungible commodities with no individual identity (Buber, 1996; Covey, 2004; Block, 2013).

Although some employees are highly committed and inherently dedicated to giving extra-mile

performance, even in the face of poor treatment and ineffective leadership (Organ, et al.,

6

2005), research evidence documents that employers who treat employees with high trust, who

demonstrate a personalized approach to employees as valued partners reap the rewards of

better quality, improved employee performance, and increased employee satisfaction (Pfeffer,

1998; Paine, 2003; Smith, et al., 2016).

Louis (1980) examined the problem of employee dissatisfaction with the new employee

entry process more than thirty-five years ago, yet new employees continue to be surprised by

the inadequacies of many organizations’ onboarding systems (Lawson, 2015, Ch. 5). Although

the expectations of incoming employees about the perceived duties owed to them in the

onboarding process may vary, employees feel betrayed when those duties are breached – with

an inevitable decrease in organization commitment (Morrison & Robinson, 1997). A realistic

job preview reduces surprises, clarifies supervisor expectations, provides an opportunity for

employees to ask questions about desired outcomes, and clarifies the psychological contract

(Tekleab et al, 2013).

Hosmer (1995) explained that trust and ethical expectations are closely related and

derived from well-accepted philosophical foundations. Table 1 presents twelve ethical

perspectives, a brief summary of each perspective, and a summary of how new employees

perceive onboarding duties owed to them.

==== Insert Table 1 about Here ===

Each ethical perspective confirms that it is in the best interests of an employer and their

employees for the onboarding process to occur effectively and with high quality (cf. Hosmer,

1995). New employees typically perceive that they are an excellent onboarding process as part

7

of the psychological contract owed to them (DeVos, et al., 2005; Klein & Weaver, 2000). The

evidence also confirms that effective onboarding serves all stakeholders, benefiting

organization both long-term and short-term (Bauer, 2010).

A Ten-Step Model for Quality Onboarding

HRPs who incorporate highly effective onboarding programs honor the psychological

contract expectations of their new employees and fulfill their strategic role as ethical stewards

(Huselid, et al., 2009;). The following is a ten-step model for quality onboarding, including steps

prior to the actual arrival of a new employee.

1. Establish the Relationship Online Immediately after Hiring. Typically, the decision to

hire an employee occurs well before the employee actually begins work. Initiating an

online relationship enables an organization to create an immediate personalized

relationship with a new employee–a well-recognized element of effective leadership

(Kouzes & Posner, 2012, Ch. 1) and an opportunity for an employee to learn a great deal

about the organization.

2. Appoint a Trained Mentor-Coach for Each New Employee – The evidence indicates the

quality of mentoring for new employees can make a significant contribution to

employee socialization and learning (Ragins, et al., 2000). Mentoring can be highly

effective at helping employees to improve employee work attitudes, engagement, and

extra-role behavior (Van Dyne & Pierce, 2004).

3. Focus the Onboarding on Relationships and Networks – Assisting new employees to

create relationships with key organization personnel can shorten the socialization and

assimilation process. Sharing information with key organization personnel about the

employee’s qualifications and assisting the employee to become familiar with the

organization’s values communicates to the incoming employee that (s)he is an

important contributor to the organization’s success (Brown, 2007; Rousseau, 1990). The

relationship with the supervisor and the natural work group are both essential elements

in this transition (Parker, et al., 2013).

4. Prepare a Well-Developed and Complete New Employee Orientation Booklet –

Integrating the many diverse pieces of information that new employees needs in

8

relocating; acquainting the employee with the community and organization culture;

identifying the organization’s values, mission, and history; explaining employee benefits

and policies; completing required paper work and documentation; and identifying key

job tasks in contributing to the organization’s ability to create value enables a new

employee to obtain this critical information and is consistent with employee

psychological contract expectations (Sutton & Griffin, 2004). Providing that information

in one location also facilitates an employee’s ability to share that information with a

significant other.

5. Prepare Physical Location, Office, and Staffing Support Prior to Onboarding – A

properly equipped office and appropriate staffing support enable an employee to get

off to the best possible start. Initiating those actions prior to a new employee’s arrival

demonstrates that the organization has carefully thought through the new employee’s

assimilation (cf. Marks, 2007).

6. Assist in Transitional Logistics – Recognizing that a new hire may have had to relocate,

sell or buy a home, arrange for schooling for children, and/or make other stressful

transitions of significant proportion, reaching out to new employees to assist them in

those time consuming tasks communicates that an employer is aware of the need for

work-family balance and is committed to the employee’s welfare (Dewe, et al., 2010).

7. Clarify and Affirm Priorities and Expectations – Immediately upon the new employee’s

arrival to the organization, the employee’s supervisor should meet with the new

employee to clarify job responsibilities, key outcomes, and the employee role with the

entire work group; identify key resources and the role of the supervisor; and listen

carefully to the employee’s personal goals and job-related concerns. Creating a high

trust relationship with the new employee is facilitated by such a meeting in addition to

building employee commitment (Leana & Van Buren, 1999).

8. Engage, Empower, and Appreciate the Employee – Employees actively engaged as

owners and partners in an organization are more likely to contribute creative ideas, add

organizational value, and improve organization productivity (Adkins, 2016; Smith, et al.,

2016; Beer, 2009; Saks, 2006;). Building employee self-efficacy and confidence reduces

employee stress, facilitates assimilation into the organization, and enhances employee

performance (Peterson, et al., 2011).

9. Involve Upline in Onboarding Training and Orientation – Actively involving Top

Management Team members and supervisors in the new employee orientation

process–particularly in explaining organizational values and cultural factors–

communicates to employees that organizational leaders are committed to those values

and that they are prepared to perform according to the values that they espouse

(Schein, 2010; Kouzes & Posner, 2012).

9

10. Create an Ongoing Coaching Process – As part of the new employee orientation, both

the mentor and supervisor should identify the resources available to assist the

employee to become a highly productive contributor and the checkpoints that will be

used to help the new employee to be assimilated into the organization to achieve time-

targeted performance results (Bachkirova, et al., 2011).

Each of these ten steps communicates to the new employee that (s)he is a priority of the

organization. This ten-step process communicates, “We value you and want you to succeed. We care

about your success, and we have carefully thought through our responsibility to bringing you on board

successfully so that you can have a great experience in our company.” In the words of DePree (2004,

Ch. 1), this approach to the onboarding process and to helping the employee to succeed honors the

“covenantal” obligation of leaders to be “a servant and a debtor” committed to each employee’s well-

being and success. That psychological contract expectation of being valued as a person is the desired

hope of new employees as they transition into organizations. Although all ten of these recommended

steps might not always be practical in every situation, this model provides a guideline which has

applicability for many organizations in a variety of disciplines.

Caldwell and colleagues (2015) have provided a Virtuous Continuum of ethical conduct for

leaders and organizations for evaluating performance outcomes and ethical duties. That continuum,

indicated as Diagram 1, suggests that the responsibility of organizations and leaders is to optimize value

creation and organizational wealth by pursuing the best intetests of all stakeholders.

==== Insert Diagram One about here ====

Similarly, Cameron (2011) has explained that virtuous leadership is also “responsible leadership” and the

obligation of leaders to those whom they serve. A growing body of evidence confirms that honoring this

virtuous responsibility creates organizational wealth, greater commitment, improved customer service,

and better quality (Cameron & Spreitzer, 2012; Beer, 2009; Pfeffer, 1998).

10

Contributions of the Paper

Like many practical HRM issues, onboarding of employees is a profoundly ethical process with

implications for the psychological contract between the employer and employee (Hosmer, 1987). This

paper makes five significant contributions.

1) It identifies the nature of onboarding new employees as an ethical and practical opportunity

to improve the relationship between new employees and their organizations. The

responsibilities of HRPs and immediate supervisors in assimilating new employees honors

“covenantal” obligations that benefit organizations and the individuals working for them

2) It identifies the ethical nature of onboarding in comparison with twelve highly regarded

ethical perspectives and as a key element of psychological contracts. By elaborating on the

ethical nature of the onboarding process, this paper integrates those ethical perspectives with

the expectations of employees directly impacts their trust, commitment, and willingness to

engage in value-creating behaviors.

3) It confirms the value of a Virtuous Continuum approach to examining the current practices of

onboarding for HRPs. Honoring duties owed to stakeholders and optimizing value creation are

responsibilities of HRPs and supervisors and the Virtuous Continuum is a useful criterion for

evaluating an organization’s onboarding process (Caldwell, et al., 2014).

4) It identifies a ten-step model for onboarding with each step identifying how each onboarding

activity strengthens the ability of an organization to honor ethical and psychological contract

expectations of employees. The specifics of this proposed model comply with best practices for

onboarding in HRM (Bauer, 2010) while meshing with ethically-related assumptions about the

psychological contract (Rousseau, 1990).

11

5) It provides an opportunity for practitioners and scholars to increase their dialogue in

promoting the discussion of ethics in practice. The link between academicians and practitioners

is often weak and scholars are frequently criticized for being impractical (Van Buren &

Greenwood, 2013; Caldwell, 2014). This paper bridges that gap and provides an opportunity for

scholars and HRPs to work together to improve the onboarding process.

Conclusion

Although organizations depend greatly upon the ability of their employees to add value and

improve organizational creativity (Christensen, 2011; Beer, 2009), they often overlook the importance of

helping employees to succeed (Pfeffer, 1998). Van Buren and Greenwood (2013, 716) have noted the

importance of “involvement of business ethics scholarship in debates about important ethical issues in

employment practices.” By addressing the ethical implications of onboarding and assimilation in the

psychological contract that exists between new employees and their organizations, this paper furthers

that purpose while providing specific suggestions for improving a key HRM process.

As HRPs improve the onboarding and assimilation process for new employees, they enhance

each employee’s reason for wanting to connect as invested partners in the success of the organization,

the work group, and the supervisor with whom they work (Yamkovenko & Hatala, 2015). By improving

onboarding and new employee assimilation, HRPs and organization leaders honor the psychological

contracts and ethical assumptions of employees’ and create an organizational culture that generates

greater long-term wealth while serving the needs of their work force (Caldwell, et al., 2011).

12

References

Acevedo, J. M. & Yancey, G. B., (2011). “Assessing New Employee Orientation Programs.” Journal of
Workplace Learning, Vol. 23, No. 5, pp. 349-354.

Bachkirova, T., Jackson, P., and Clutterbuck, D., (2011). Coaching and Mentoring Supervision: The
Complete Guide to Best Practice. Berkshire, England: McGraw-Hill.

Bauer, T. N,, (2010). “Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success.” The SHRM Foundation’s
Effective Practice Guideline Series. Alexandria, VA: SHRM obtained online on September 2, 2016 at

http://www.shrm.org/about/foundation/products/Pages/OnboardingEPG.aspx.

Beer, M., (2009). High Commitment High Performance: How to Build a Resilient Organization
for Sustained Advantage. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.

Bierema, L. L., and Hill, J. R., (2005). “Virtual Mentoring and HRD.” Advances in Developing
Human Resources, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 556-568.

Block, P., (2013). Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-
Koehler.

Buber, M., (1996). I and Thou. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Brown, J., (2007). “Employee Orientation: Keeping New Employees on Board.” Alexandria, VA:
International Public Management Association – Human Resources.

Caldwell, C., (2014). “Forging Ethics-Based Business Partners: The Integration of Business,

Employees, and Education.” Graziadio Business Review published by Pepperdine University in

the April, 2014 edition found online at https://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2014/04/forging-ethics-

based-business-partners/.

Caldwell, C., and Clapham, S., (2003). “Organizational Trustworthiness: An International

Perspective,” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 47, Iss. 4, p. 349-364.

Caldwell, C., & Hansen, M., (2010). “Trustworthiness, Governance, and Wealth Creation.”

Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 97, Iss. 2, pp. 173-188.

Caldwell, C., Hasan, Z., & Smith, S. (2015). “Virtuous Leadership: Insights for the 21st Century.”

Journal of Management Development. Vol. 34, Iss. 9, pp. 1181-1200.

Caldwell, C., Truong, D., Linh, P., and Tuan, A., (2011). “Strategic Human Resource Management

as Ethical Stewardship.” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 98, Iss. 1, pp. 171-182.

13

Christensen, C. M., (2011). The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change

the Way You Do Business. New York: Harper Collins.

Covey, S. R., (2004). The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. New York: Free Press.

Cropanzano, R., & Miller, M. S., (2005). “Social Exchange Theory: An Interdisciplinary Review.”
Journal of Management, Vol. 31, No. 6, pp. 874-900.

DeVos, A., Buyens, D. & Schalk, R., (2005). “Making Sense of a New Employment Relationship:
Psychological Contract-Related Information Seeking and the Role of Work Values and Locus of Control.”
International Journal of Selection and Assessment, Vol. 13, Iss. 1., pp. 41-52.

Dewe, P. J., O’Driscoll, M. P., & Cooper, C. L., (2010). Coping with Work Stress: A Review and Critique.
Walden, MA: Wiley & Sons.

Holton, E. F. III, (2001). “New Employee Development Tactics: Perceived Availability, Helpfulness, and
Relationship with Job Attitudes.” Journal of Business and Psychology, Vol. 16, Iss. 1, pp. 73-85.

Hosmer, L. T., (1987). “Ethical Analysis and Human Resource Management.” Human Resource
Management, Volume 26, Iss. 1, pp. 313-330.

Hosmer, L. T., (1995). “Trust: The Connecting Link between Organizational Theory and Philosophical
Ethics.” Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 379-403.

Huselid, M. A, Beatty, R. W., Kerr, S., & Becker, B.E., (2009). The Differentiated Workforce: Translating
Talent into Strategic Impact. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Kant, I. & Wood A. W., (2001). Basic Writings of Kant. New York: Random House.

Leana, C. R., & Van Buren, H. J., III., (1999). “Organizational Social Capital and Employment Practices.”
Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 538-555.

Klein, H. J. & Weaver, N. A. (2000). “The Effectiveness of an Organization-Level Orientation Training
Program in the Socialization of New Hires.” Personnel Psychology, pp. 53-66.

Kouzes, J., and Posner, B. Z., (2012). The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things
Happen in Organizations (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Wiley.

Lawson, K., (2015). New Employee Orientation Training. San Antonio, TX: Association for Talent
Development.

Mayer, R, C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman. F. D. (1995). “An Integrative Model of Organizational Trust.”
Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 709-734.

Mitchell, L. M., (2007). “A Framework for Facilitating Adaptation to Organizational Transition.” Journal
of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 20, No. 5, pp. 721-739.

Morrison, E. W> & Robinson, S. L. (1997). “When Employees Feel Betrayed: A Model of How
Psychological Contract Violation Develops.” Academy of Management Review, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 226-
256.

14

Organ, D. W., Podsakoff, P. M., and MacKenzie, S. B., (2005). Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Its
Nature, Antecedents, and Consequences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Paine, L. S., (2003). Value Shift: Why Companies Must Merge Social and Financial Imperatives to
Achieve Superior Performance. New York: McGraw Hill.

Parker, S. K., Johnson, A., Collins, C., & Nguyen, H., (2013). “Making the Most of Structural Support:
Moderating Influence of Employees’ Clarity and Negative Affect.” Academy of Management Journal,
Vol. 56, Iss. 3, pp. 867-892.

Peterson, S. J., Luthans, F., Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. O., & Zhang, Z., (2011). “Psychological Capital
and Employee Performance: A Latent Growth Modeling Approach.” Personnel Psychology, Vol. 64, Iss.
2, pp. 427-450.

Pfeffer, J., (1998). The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First. Boston, MA: Harvard
Business School Press.

Ragins, B. R., Cotton, J. L., & Miller, J. S., (2000). “Marginal Mentoring: The Effects of Type Of Mentor,
Quality of Relationship, And Program Design on Work and Career Attitudes.” Academy of Management
Journal, Vol. 43, No 6, pp. 177-1194.

Robinson, S. L. & Rousseau, D. M, (1994). “Violating the Psychological Contract: Not the Exception but
the Norm.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 15, Iss. 3, pp. 245-259.

Rousseau, D. M., (1990). “New Hire Perceptions of Their Own and Their Employer’s Obligations: A Study
of Psychological Contracts.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, Vol. 11, pp. 389-400

Rousseau, D. M., (1995). Psychological Contracts in Organizations: Understanding Written and
Unwritten Agreements. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Saks, A. M., (2006). “Antecedents and Consequences of Employee Engagement.” Journal of Managerial
Psychology, Vol. 21, Iss. 7, pp. 600-619.

Schein, E. H., (2010). Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Shea-Van Fossen, R. J., & Vredenburgh, D. J., (2014). “Exploring Differences in Work’s Meaning: An
Investigation of Individual Attributes Associated with Work Orientations.” Journal of Behavioral &
Applied Management, Vol. 15, Iss. 2, pp. 101-120.

Smart, B. D., (2012). Topgrading: The Proven Hiring and Promoting Method that Turbocharges
Organizations. New York: Penguin.

Smith, S., Peters, R., and Caldwell, C., 2016. “Creating a Culture of Engagement – Insights for

Application.” Business and Management Research, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 70 -80 available online at

http://www.sciedupress.com/journal/index.php/bmr/article/view/9734/5891

Srimannarayana, M. (2016). “Designing New Employee Orientation Programs: An Empirical Study.” The
Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 620-632.

15

Sutton, G., and Griffin, M. A., (2004). “Integrating Expectations, Experiences, and Psychological Contract
Violations: A Longitudinal Study of New Professionals.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational
Psychology, Vol. 77, pp. 493-514.

Tekleab, A., Orvis, K., & Taylor, M., (2013). “Deleterious Consequences of Change in Newcomers’
Employer-Based Psychological Contract Obligations.” Journal of Business & Psychology, Vol. 28, Iss. 3,
pp. 361-374.

Van Buren III, H. J., & Greenwood, M., (2013). “The Genesis of Employment Ethics.” Journal of Business
Ethics, Vol. 117, Iss. 4, pp. 707-719.

Van Dyne, L. & Pierce, J. L. (2004). “Psychological Ownership and Feelings of Possession: Three Field
Studies Predicting Employee Attitudes and Organizational Citizenship Behavior.” Journal of
Organizational Behavior, Vol. 25, Iss. 4, pp. 439-459.

Wanous, J. P., & Reichers, A. E., (2000). “New Employee Orientation Programs.” Human Resource
Management Review, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 435-451.

Watkins, M.D. , (2016). Summary of the First 90 Days. Sarnia, ON, Canada: Instaread.

Yamkovenko & Hatala, J. P., (2015). “Methods for Analysis of Social Networks Data in HRD Research.”
Advances in Developing Human Resources, Vol. 14, Iss. 1, pp. 40-56.

16

Table 1: Twelve Ethical Perspectives and Their Ethical Implications for Onboarding

Ethical Perspective Basic Summary Organizational
Impacts

Employee Perceptions and Ethical
Implications

Self-Interest
(Protagoras)

Society benefits when we
pursue self-interest without
encroaching on others’ rights.

Seeks to optimize
long-term wealth
creation.

Excellent onboarding and quality training enable
new employees to quickly become contributors
in creating organizational wealth or value (cf.
Caldwell & Hansen, 2010)

Utilitarian Benefit
(Bentham & Mills)

A law or act is “right” if it
leads to more net social
benefits than harms.

Recognizes the need
to identify costs,
benefits, and impacts
of choices.

The Return on Investment of onboarding saves
an organization money in the long-run and
increases commitment (Pfeffer, 1998)

Personal Virtues
(Plato & Aristotle)

Standards must be adopted to
govern relationships and
articulate virtuous behaviors.

Organizations must
govern according to
correct principles and
virtues.

Creating an excellent onboarding process is
congruent with the virtuous obligations that
leaders owe to others (DePree, 2004)

Religious Injunction
(St. Augustine)

Compassion and kindness
must accompany honesty,
truthfulness, and temperance.

Honoring
relationships equates
with interpersonal
respect and kindness.

Treating employees as valued “Yous” rather than
as “Its” honors the obligations of Religious
Injunction (Buber, 1996).

Ethic of
Government
Regulation (Hobbes
& Locke)

“Live by both the letter and
the spirit of the law in
honoring duties owed to
others, but remember that the
law by itself is a minimal
moral standard.”

Complying with the
letter and spirt of the
law builds trust and
increases personal
commitment.

Treating new hires as valued partners and with a
concern for their best interests is not a legal
obligation but complies with the spirit of the
implied contract between the parties and is an
important means of building trust (cf. Caldwell &
Clapham, 2003).

Universal Rules
(Kant)

Inspired rules govern action,
resulting in the greater good
for society.

Universal rules and
values impact
organizations and
leaders.

Kantian rules mandate that individuals are
treated as valued ends rather than as means to
ends (Kant & Wood, 2001).

Individual Rights
(Rousseau and
Jefferson)

An articulated list of
protected rights ensures
individual freedom and
protects individuals.

Organizations are
obligated to honor
duties owed to
individual members.

Employees are likely to view organizations as
owing them a complex series of “covenantal”
duties and rights (Covey, 1992).

Economic Efficiency
(Adam Smith)

Seek the maximum output of
needed goods and the
maximization of profits.

Acknowledges the
importance of wealth
creation and value.

Onboarding is win-win benefit that maximizes
value creation (cf. Bauer, 2010).

Distributive Justice
(Rawls)

Avoid taking any actions that
harms the least of us in any
way.

Organizations owe
individuals fair
treatment at all times.

Ineffective onboarding actually harms employees
who are under great stress and impedes their
ability to succeed (Acevedo & Yancey, 2010).

Contributing Liberty
(Nozich)

Avoid actions that interfere
with others’ self-fulfillment
and development.

Acknowledges the
obligation to assist
employees to become
excellent.

Poor onboarding conflicts with the Ethic of
Contributing Liberty because it undermines the
effectiveness of new employees (Bauer, 2010).

Ethic of Self-
Actualization
(Maslow)

Seek to fulfill one’s highest
potential and to maximize
one’s ability to contribute to
creating a better world.

Recognizes that
fulfilling one’s
potential serves all
stakeholders.

The Ethic of Self-Actualization is best served by
empowering new employees and helping them to
succeed (Smart, 2012).

Ethic of Care
(Gilligan)

Emphasizes the importance of
creating caring relationships
and honoring responsibilities
to those with whom
relationships exist.

Focuses on the
importance of each
person and helping
them to honor their
responsibilities.

The Ethic of Care enables new employees to
honor their responsibilities to others. It is also a
duty owed to them which demonstrates that the
organization cares about their welfare (cf.
Cameron, 2011).

Hosmer, 1995

17

Diagram 1: The Virtuous Continuum as an Ethical Framework for Leaders and Organizations

Caldwell, Hasan & Smith, 2015

Writerbay.net

Do you need help with this or a different assignment? In a world where academic success does not come without efforts, we do our best to provide the most proficient and capable essay writing service. After all, impressing professors shouldn’t be hard, we make that possible. If you decide to make your order on our website, you will get 15 % off your first order. You only need to indicate the discount code GET15.


Order a Similar Paper Order a Different Paper