Understanding How Onboarding Impacts Employee Retention

How Can Companies Enhance Retention Through Onboarding?

A key concern for all organizations is reducing turnover rates, and it seems that onboarding impacts employee retention in significant ways. In fact, studies have shown that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for more than three years if they have been provided with a very good onboarding experience. On the contrary, ill-designed or nonexistent onboarding processes can lead to new employees leaving their positions in only a few months. In this article, we delve into the link between onboarding and employee retention, as well as 5 strategies organizations can employ to improve the quality of their onboarding strategies.

What Is The Link Between Onboarding And Retention?

1. Engagement And Connection

Employee engagement is the main goal of every organization during the onboarding stage. By utilizing interactive techniques, such as training sessions, feedback exchange, and early team collaboration, they strive to ignite a spark of purpose, connection, and community within their new hires. This way, they create engaged employees who have a genuine interest in their job, are committed to their organization, produce better results, and, most importantly, are less likely to leave to pursue other opportunities.

2. Role Clarity And Expectations

A comprehensive onboarding process must give new employees a clear understanding of their position, including the tasks and responsibilities that come with it. This role clarity reduces feelings of anxiety and confusion and helps new hires gain a sense of purpose and achieve productivity from the get-go. In addition to that, knowing what is expected of them empowers employees to complete their tasks with confidence, leading to increased job satisfaction levels and, in turn, improved retention.

3. Cultural Integration

Another way in which onboarding affects employee retention is by ensuring their successful integration into the company culture. Workplaces differ from each other, which is why new employees need to be introduced to the company’s values, mission, and social environment to guarantee a smooth transition. Although not all employees coming into an organization may fully identify with its culture, a thorough introduction will help them form a connection with their new workplace and, hopefully, stick around for longer.

4. Skill Development

Onboarding is the perfect time for employees to begin developing their knowledge and skills. During this time, HR reps and managers must figure out the most effective training options for new hires to enhance their current skills and help them acquire new ones. Investing in the development of your workforce will not just support your organization in achieving new levels of success but also foster loyalty. Employees are more likely to continue working for businesses that consistently provide opportunities for professional development.

Key Elements Of Effective Onboarding

Onboarding can look different from organization to organization. However, there are some elements they must share if they want to achieve the desired results. Let’s see what those are.


This covers the time period between the day of the job offer and the first day in the office. Although the employee hasn’t officially started working for you yet, this is an important period during which you can make them feel welcome and excited about starting their new job. You can achieve that by sending a welcome package that includes all necessary information about the company and forms they might need to fill out. Don’t forget to maintain communication during preboarding.


Orientation takes up the first days or weeks of a new employee and is the perfect time to introduce them to the company culture. Present them with the company’s values, mission, and overall culture and help them understand where they fit into it. Give them a tour of the facilities and introduce them to their colleagues and other key stakeholders. This way, they will quickly begin to form relationships and understand the team dynamics within the organization.

Training And Development

Providing training opportunities to new employees is essential for their future success and overall engagement. This would include on-the-job training to help them acquire role-specific skills and knowledge, workshops and online courses to ensure continuous learning and development, and mentorship programs. Make sure to give new hires access to all necessary tools, knowledge bases, systems, and resources they will need to perform their tasks successfully.


Mentoring new hires is an essential part of an effective onboarding process that boosts employee retention. Usually, organizations implement the buddy system, which pairs a new hire with an experienced colleague who can offer guidance and assistance. Don’t forget to schedule regular meetings with managers and mentors to discuss progress, collect feedback, and make any adjustments if necessary.

Feedback And Check-Ins

Collecting feedback during onboarding is of utmost importance, and it’s best to create more than one channel for it. For example, some employees might feel more comfortable answering surveys and filling out feedback forms instead of having face-to-face conversations about their progress. Additionally, you can conduct periodic performance reviews and provide feedback based on the results.

5 Strategies For Enhancing Retention Through Onboarding

Onboarding is a great start if you want to impact employee retention levels in your organization. However, there are some strategies you can use to enhance its positive effects. Let’s see what those are.

1. Personalization

When developing your onboarding strategy, it’s best to establish some standard practices, such as onboarding templates, to ensure consistent outcomes. However, that doesn’t mean all new hires will undergo the exact same onboarding process. For optimum results and enhanced retention, you must adapt onboarding to suit each employee’s interests, needs, and role. Onboarding personalization can be evident in the way you communicate with employees, the training plans you opt for, the assessment techniques you use, etc. By acknowledging the unique qualities and needs of new employees, you can cultivate a sense of belonging and community within your organization.

2. Continuous Improvement

It’s important to remember that developing an onboarding strategy is an ongoing process. It needs to keep up with changes in your industry, organization, and employee needs. But how can you be certain that your onboarding process requires a touch-up? By remaining in close contact with your employees, of course. Make sure to continuously gather feedback from recent hires and responsible parties—i.e., the HR department and leadership—to easily and quickly identify areas for improvement. This way, onboarding in your organization will remain effective and relevant, attracting and retaining employees.

3. Integration With HR Practices

When we explored the key elements of effective onboarding, we emphasized that onboarding lasts far longer than many believe, stretching at times beyond the first year of employment. Therefore, in order not to disrupt operations, onboarding should be seamlessly integrated with the rest of your company’s HR practices, including areas such as recruitment, training, performance, management, employee development, etc. This way, you make sure that your workforce receives consistent guidance throughout their employment journey. As a result, you will provide them with an overall more satisfactory work experience that will foster a long-standing collaboration.

4. Measure Success

To fully understand how onboarding impacts employee retention, it’s essential to measure the overall success of your onboarding strategy. Have levels of employee retention improved since you revamped onboarding? Are employees reaching the desired level of productivity and efficiency more quickly? Questions like these will help you determine the metrics you should be monitoring, such as retention rates, employee engagement scores, etc. Use surveys and interviews to collect feedback and analyze emerging data to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your onboarding strategy so that it continues to produce the same—if not better—results.

5. Long-Term Engagement

We’ve already touched on the importance of making onboarding a process that stretches beyond the first few weeks or months of a new employee’s arrival. But we haven’t really discussed how you can achieve that. There are many ways you can provide new hires with continuous support and guidance. Some of them include ongoing training, regular check-ins, mentorship sessions, and career development opportunities. By implementing these long-term engagement practices, you show your employees that you are committed to their success and professional development, which can significantly enhance retention.

Boosting Employee Retention Through Onboarding

There is no doubt that onboarding impacts employee retention in more ways than one. When you make sure that your organization’s onboarding strategy focuses on engagement, role clarity, and skill development, as well as including all elements of the process, the success of the onboarding experience is certain. In turn, employees form a positive first impression of your organization and are more likely to stay with you in the long run, especially when they see that you are invested in helping them progress their careers as much as possible. Investing in a well-designed onboarding process is an investment in the long-term success of the organization.

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