New report shows evolution of On-boarding in Top Employers globally

Five ways to make On-boarding more successful for new employees

A new report shows on-boarding trends are evolving as businesses realise its crucial influence on supporting new employees and operational effectiveness. The paper, On-Boarding – HR Insights Report, from the Top Employers Institute shows case studies and 5 best practice trends including making on-boarding a process rather than a single event, measuring effectiveness and ensuring senior business leaders play a key role in inspiring new employees from the first morning.

The findings in the report are based on a sample size of 600 organisations in 102 countries, certified as Top Employers by the Top Employers Institute. Only organisations with more than 3000 employees locally or more than 5000 employees worldwide are included. On-boarding can be defined as the process which new hires adjust to the social and performance aspects of their new roles, enabling them to learn the skills and behaviours needed to function effectively.

David Plink, CEO of Top Employers Institute, said, “The benefits of having a seamless integration will mean a more engaged and productive workforce that is better aligned culturally. With talent attraction and retention high on the agenda, On-boarding plays a key part in how the company is perceived as a place to work and develop. This phase has a crucial influence on retention and development”.

The five key trends are:

1. From event to process
Historically, On-boarding lasts a maximum of 2-3 days after a new employee joins the business. Top Employers, however, are starting On-boarding during the recruitment phase and maintaining it 3-6 months post commencement, with some lasting up to 12 months. The scope is broader too. Key practices remain around the role, HR policies and procedures, however there is a growing focus on internal connections:

  • Use of internal/external social media (networks) has risen from 72% of those researched in 2015, to 81% in 2016
  • A buddy being assigned to a new employee has grown in popularity from 61% in 2015 to 66% in 2016
  • 63% arranged social networking events for new employees in 2015, while 71% did so in 2016
  • 61% used internal social media experience sharing, while this increased to 60% in 2016
  • In 2015, 55% conducted a follow up session one year after joining; this increased to 62% in 2016.

2. Towards a multidimensional programme
The first impressions new hires gain may well shape the way they feel about their new employer in the longer term. Effective On-boarding needs to cover three main areas:

  • The business context (mission and vision; organisational strategy, branding, positioning and, potentially, challenges)
  • The situational context (the job; expectations, deliverables and what success looks like)
  • The cultural context (organisational values; how they are lived and the way they shape what the business does).

3. More active involvement of Senior Management
Senior business leaders play a key role in inspiring new employees from the first morning, whilst helping them to understand from the outset the overall business purpose.

  • In 2015, 56% of Top Employers ensured new recruits met with the CEO/Executive Management. This increased to 58% in 2016.
  • 85% of participants ensure new employees have a meeting with their managers early in the On-boarding process
  • 86% of executive management are promoting the importance of well-organised programmes to the wider business (81% in 2015)
  • 92% hold business leaders to account over the success of the programmes, an increase from 84% in 2015.

4. On-boarding goes digital
Trends show that technology assumes a central role in formatting and streamlining On-boarding. It provides a quick and easy way to ensure traditional paperwork is completed digitally and an added bonus is the reduction of manual work and risk of potential errors. It also provides data for reporting and gaining insights to inform process enhancements. Within the On-boarding process, there is the potential to identify learning needs, create a learning plan and set up specific e-learning modules, as well as to help employees connect, engage and share.

  • 34% of participants already offer a platform that tracks progress on completion of all tasks and activities
  • 88% use a portal with all relevant information for On-boarding
  • 18% use an online/virtual Onboarding platform before the first working day.

5. Gain insight: data driven programme improvement
Key metrics are being tracked. These measure impact and effectiveness, particularly if the aim is to assimilate new employees quickly, smoothly and effectively to become productive. Two main areas to look at are to check on the progress of employees and reflect on the process itself looking for areas of improvement. Those who track metrics, measure:

  • First impressions: 57% in 2015; 60% in 2016.
  • Employees’ evaluation of their On-boarding experience: 63% in 2015; 74% in 2016.
  • HR evaluation: 59% in 2015; 71% in 2016.
  • Reporting on KPIs: 60% in 2015; 70% in 2016.

Where KPIs are used it’s often to measure operational effectiveness, such as induction training completed on time. Participants are beginning to measure programme effectiveness, such as first year retention.

Plink added, “Employee preferences and expectations are changing. They have access to employer information that indicates if they are likely to be a good company to work for. In this climate, previous On-boarding approaches are no longer relevant. It has evolved from a first day event to a continuous learning process, while social and cultural integration is now a major part, alongside senior management playing an active role”.

The insights in the On-Boarding – HR Insights Report are supported by the findings of the Top Employers HR Best Practices Survey. This assesses global organisations’ HR environment in the areas of strategy, policy implementation, monitoring and communication of employee conditions and development.

Access the HR Insights Report on On-boarding.



About Top Employers Institute

The Top Employers Institute globally certifies excellence in the conditions that employers create for their people. Optimal employee conditions ensure that people develop themselves personally and professionally. This in turn enables companies to grow and to develop, always.

Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company has recognised Top Employers around the world since 1991. The company is now active in more than 100 countries and in six regions: North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Almost 1,100 Top Employers were successfully certified in 2016. 


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“By cooperating with the Top Employers Institute, we are able to evaluate the data of the leading companies in each segment, seeking best practices and valuable industry insights that can be adapted and applied in our context.”

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