How to Put People First: Great Employee Onboarding

HR & Businesses Mar 29, 2022

“88% of employees don't believe their organizations do a great job of onboarding”, according to a Gallup report. That means only about 1 in 10 employees actually think their employer does a great job of onboarding new employees. Not quite a ringing endorsement!

Why is bad employee onboarding a problem for your business?

To the Human Resources, People & Culture, Employee Engagement and People Operations professionals out there, I know you know the answer to this. You have to pick up the pieces of bad onboarding every day. But let’s go ahead and spell out the top-line issues for your boss.

In no particular order:

  1. Retention
    Great employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%, saving you from having to hire, hire, and hire again.

  2. Satisfaction
    Employees who had exceptional onboarding experiences are 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied at work. You know that when your employees are satisfied, their job performance improves, they stick around longer, and they become company advocates, which is all good. But more importantly, you want your employees to be satisfied because you want them to be happy!

  3. Productivity and Contribution
    Good onboarding processes improve new employees’ productivity by over 70%. I know productivity is a bit of a controversial metric when it comes to measuring employees, so I’ll just say that people want to feel like they’re doing a good job contributing to the company’s mission. The faster new employees believe they are productive, the better they’ll feel about their decision to join the company.

  4. Inclusion and Belonging
    51% of employees who quit organizations cite lacking a sense of belonging as a reason for leaving. Humans have an innate desire to belong in a group. In our new world of remote and hybrid working, this becomes even more of a challenge. The better an organization is at helping its employees feel like they’ve found they truly belong, the more successful they and their team will be.

Why are companies so bad at onboarding?

If employee onboarding is undeniably important to the success of any business, why are companies so bad at it? Is it the employee onboarding software, resource constraints, lack of time, or competing priorities? I’m sure there are many reasons, but we see these as the top four:

  • Hard to collect feedback on success
    Few organizations have systems in place to quantitatively measure the success of an onboarding program. It’s common to rely on qualitative data pulled from new employee surveys as the sole metric, which leads to inaccurate tracking and improper evaluation of onboarding success.

  • Involves multiple people and departments
    It isn’t uncommon for the direct manager, office management, a “new employee buddy,” and HR, IT, and finance departments to be involved in any one individual's onboarding program. Oftentimes, with that many people in the mix, the challenge lies in everyone not quite understanding their role in the process and aligning schedules, rather than improving the program.

  • Takes time away from strategic tasks
    Onboarding is sometimes viewed as having only a tactical function. (Not by you of course, and not by us either—but by…others.) It’s too often seen as the kind of mundane activity managers must do, but which nevertheless detracts from their ability to perform strategic tasks. Coupled with the fact that 69% and 49% of managers describe onboarding as time-consuming and frustrating, respectively, this suggests that any intention to improve the process will be overshadowed by a lack of will stemming from a lack of understanding on how to actually improve things.

  • Inherently reactive and inconsistent
    Since, for many established organizations, hiring often comes in response to employee churn or a change in corporate direction, there isn’t always time to plan ahead. Resource requirements can also vary wildly based on the speed and volume of hiring, which makes it hard to develop a consistent program.

But the biggest problem?

58% of onboarding programs are focused on processes and paperwork—instead of people.

Think endless checkboxes and filling out lengthy forms. When given a fun, playful, and human alternative, who would ever choose the mundane?

A program designed to help new employees will fail when it values procedure, payroll, and paperwork more than people.

How to build a new employee onboarding program that works

Organizations must put people first when they design their onboarding programs, and understand that not everyone will want or need the same onboarding experience. An entry level hire will have different requirements from a Senior Executive, but both need to be effectively onboarded to be successful. The best onboarding program is easy to build, rolled out at scale, yet can be customized for the individual, gathers feedback, is repeatable and must still be compliant (gotta make sure the procedure and paperwork requirements are satisfied). But above all else, it needs to excite, inspire and be fun and engaging for people!

At GooseChase, we know what good onboarding looks like. We help businesses across countries and industries deliver exceptional, people-first onboarding experiences every day. GooseChase is an online platform that helps Employee Engagement, People Ops and HR teams run interactive onboarding experiences inspired by scavenger hunts. Companies like Take 5 Oil Change and PwC Canada know that it takes delightful, interactive experiences to engage, activate, and educate their employees.

To learn more about how companies are replacing their employee onboarding tools with GooseChase experiences, please reach out here.

And be sure to check out our list of fun employee engagement ideas!

The pros of putting people first

Just like the best marketers design campaigns with a specific audience in mind, when you create an onboarding program with your people in mind, you have a good chance to ensure they’ll find it relevant, interesting, engaging, and memorable. With these employee onboarding best practices in place, you’ll see improvements to:

  • knowledge retention and employee engagement
  • your team’s sense of support and belonging
  • employees proactively giving you feedback
  • the time it takes to manage the employee onboarding process
  • the amount of fun your team has at work, and the amount of silly pictures and videos they share!

Most onboarding is bad. Use that to your advantage.

Your new employees don’t want to spend their onboarding experience checking boxes. Do something just a little different and you could make a major impact on their time with your organization.


Katie Canton

Head of Brand Experience and Marketing at Goosechase