The average cost of employee turnover can be as high as R90 000 per staff member. The onboarding process is, therefore, essential in the talent-management pipeline. It sets the tone for the employee’s experience at the company. A successful onboarding experience provides employees with the right environment to reach their full potential in the business. This will, in turn, allow you to identify your top talent.

An estimated 22% of businesses have no formal onboarding program, and 49% have a mediocre process that is only successful to some extent. Unsuccessful onboarding will lead to employees feeling disconnected, more stressed and less productive. Such circumstances will provide them with reasons to start looking elsewhere for employment.

Onboarding is not a single event. It is an ongoing process to integrate a new employee into the business and can continue for months and even years after the employee is hired. This living process should be constantly reviewed and improved.

Every time an employee starts a new position, they return to the basics of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In every new situation, we need to go back to the foundation and learn how to satisfy our physical and emotional needs. Once that is done, we can aim to meet our higher-level needs that will allow us to reach our full potential on a professional level. It is therefore important to be cognizant of new employees’ basic needs on day one. Provide the necessary answers regarding parking, where they can eat, find fresh air, make use of restrooms and where they will be stationed throughout the day.

Many businesses currently have virtual working arrangements. It is important to provide an opportunity for the employee to visit the company’s premises and to meet their manager and/or team face to face. If it is not possible on the employee’s first day, it is important to provide sufficient information and clarity on the onboarding strategy and to plan in the first few days. Ensure that there is enough online face time between the company and the new employee. Pay close attention to the details of your onboarding process and reflect on whether it is truly setting your employees up to be successful.

Here are a few suggestions to consider when putting your onboarding strategy and program together:

  • Prepare ahead of time: Tell new employees what their first day and week will look like. Knowing what to expect will put them at ease and allow them to prepare if required. You can typically provide them with login details to various software platforms, a schedule of what they need to do or attend during the first few weeks, an employee handbook that covers policies and procedures and a clean working area if they will be physically going into the office.
  • Ensure they follow the rules: Different industries are regulated differently by specific legalities and rules. Ensure that new employees are aware of the rules and regulations they need to adhere to within your industry.
  • Clearly articulate the company’s vision, purpose and culture: Give new employees a proper taste of the shared values, behaviours and traditions that shape the company’s culture. New employees should have a clear understanding of the purpose of the business and how they will help the business reach its strategic objectives.
  • Build a comprehensive training program: Training a new employee should consist of more than just the actual training for the specific role. The training program should be holistic and outline everything an employee needs to know and do beyond their role. Make use of the 70, 20, 10 principle when building the training program. 70% of the training should consist of on-the-job experience; 20% should be learning through observing others; and 10% should consist of structured courses. It is advised to, where possible, make use of computer-based training programs. This will free up time and help current staff to continue with and focus on their own duties.
  • Follow up: To determine if the onboarding program is successful, gather feedback from new employees who have been with the business for different lengths of time. Call a new employee after day one, week one or month one to gather input on their experiences. Gain insights on what worked well and what could have been done better. Ask new employees for suggestions – these can serve as gifts that will improve your onboarding programme.

Onboarding is the first opportunity to create lasting first impressions with new hires. An effective and successful onboarding programme will support your recruitment investment and ensure overall fulfillment for new employees as they enter this new phase in their life. Ensure that you let new employees know that you are excited for them to start their new journey with you.

By Ilana Bisschoff


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Cheryl Strizelka. (2018). 5 Easy Onboarding Strategies for Small Businesses. Retrieved from

Terrie Nolinske. Onboarding is Critical to Business Success. Retrieved from

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Ashley Bell. (2021). 7-Steps To A Perfect Employee Onboarding Process For New Hires In 2021. Retrieved from

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