• Onboarding

How Long Should Your Employee Onboarding Program Be?

Most employee onboarding programs aim specifically to get new hires up to speed as soon as possible so they can begin to contribute their personal talents to the business. And time is particularly of the essence when you are filling a role that someone else left unexpectedly. But just how long should employees be engaged in onboarding?

Skimping On Onboarding Can Be Costly

The data is clear when it comes to the importance and impact the employee onboarding experience has on a business. Effective onboarding programs not only improve productivity but also raise employee retention. 62 percent of companies with a structured onboarding program see faster time-to-productivity. Completing a structured onboarding program also makes an employee 58 percent more likely to still be with the organization after three years.

Furthermore, in today’s competitive job markets, your top talent may be already be looking to leave — one-third of new hires who have been in their roles for six months or less are searching for a new job.

As a response to current trends, there is growing sentiment that the onboarding process should last much longer than it currently does.

Ask any HR professional for the conventional wisdom within the field and they will tell you that onboarding should last 90 or 100 days. Yet, according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder of over 2,300 hiring managers and HR professionals, nearly three-quarters say their onboarding process lasts one month or less. About half said that onboarding lasts a week or less.

Lenth of corporate onboarding programs graph

Studies show that onboarding programs that last less than a month are detrimental to retention rates. That means that only 28 percent of companies are investing enough time in the onboarding process to make a significant impact on the business.  

One month, or even less, simply isn’t enough time for a new employee to complete compliance tasks, get acclimated to the company’s culture, receive sufficient job-specific training, adjust to new technologies, and make an informed decision about whether the company and role are a good fit.

Extending Employee Onboarding Programs To A Full Year

Considering nearly nine out of ten companies aren’t even reaching the three-month mark when it comes to onboarding, extending employee onboarding programs to run for a full year may seem like an impossible challenge. However, given growing data on the potential benefits of extended onboarding, more and more HR leaders are pushing harder for this change.

With 90 percent of employees determining whether or not they’ll stay in a role within the first six months, nurturing new employees past the six-month mark is becoming more critical. Longer onboarding programs allow companies to design structured, relational onboarding programs that, over the course of the first year, can increase new hire retention by 25 percent compared to shorter, transactional onboarding processes.

What is relational onboarding?

Relational onboarding describes a process for welcoming new hires into your organization and nurturing them to their maximum performance level through a humanized process that builds more trust and confidence on both sides. This process includes expectation setting, providing support, and clearly defining responsibilities.

Relational onboarding takes more time than onboarding that is purely transactional (for example, the classic onboarding tasks of completing new hire paperwork and learning the basics from the employee handbook). The time-to-productivity for new hires, however, is accelerated in a relational onboarding process. This means you’ll have more time to incorporate other meaningful learning into your onboarding.

But we already make them drink from the fire hose.

Shorter onboarding processes do often inundate new employees with a flood of information — much of which is hard to retain. And while you may be adding more learning to your onboarding process by extending it for up to a year, learning can be spread out and structured into smaller bite-sized chunks that actually improve learning and retention.

Yearlong Onboarding Advantages

Employees can continue learning to higher levels.

With a longer onboarding process, learning doesn’t stop when the employee is simply proficient. Continuing formal learning that allows the employee to develop new skills benefits the organization as much as it does the employee’s professional development.

More and more organizations are incorporating long-term learning modules during onboarding that teach both soft and technical skills. Continuing an employee’s learning to higher levels can demonstrate your commitment to an employee’s personal advancement during that critical first year, leaving less uncertainty about a career path within your company.

Employers can guide collaborative learning.

A yearlong onboarding process should not only include expectation-setting and clear definitions of the role but also guide collaborative or social learning. The benefits of adding a collaborative learning element to the onboarding process are two-fold:

  1. 90 percent of what employees learn at work is through personal and shared experiences with colleagues, as opposed to formal learning. Intentionally integrating collaborative learning into your onboarding process ensures the employee gets a more immersive learning experience, absorbing deeper knowledge from the top minds across your organization.
  2. Collaborative learning during onboarding also allows the new employee to network within the organization and form deeper bonds with other employees. New employees learn who to go to for help and also develop a better understanding of their roles within their departments and the company as a whole. They also become naturally steeped in the company culture.


Optimizing Employee Onboarding With Video

New Employee Onboarding With Video -White PaperMore and more research is suggesting that businesses should be extending onboarding to a full year — something only 2 percent of companies are doing. But how do you efficiently redesign onboarding process to span an employee’s first year?

More compelling than a handbook and more cost-effective than on-location events and seminars, video is one of the best employee onboarding investments a company can make. Download our whitepaper and learn how the right video platform can help you transform your onboarding process by supporting formal learning, social learning, and more.

DOWNLOAD: 15 Ways to Enhance Employee Onboarding With Video