Onboarding is a really key part of your engagement process, and needs organisational buy-in from the top, to give your new employees a great introduction to their new place of work. However, it sometimes gets missed (or has less attention on it) as many different departments and stakeholders are needed to get it right.

So whose responsibility is onboarding?

Typically onboarding sits between Recruitment Teams, HR Teams and Hiring Managers. It’s easy to think someone else in the organisation has onboarding covered, but in truth EVERYONE should take responsibility. People make assumptions and it’s important to put them straight.

How do I create my onboarding strategy?

Firstly, think about what you want to achieve. An onboarding strategy should follow seamlessly from your recruitment process, continuing the great experience of your organisation that you’ve given your new employee so far. You ideally want all new employees to feel welcomed, involved and engaged at all times, so think about how you can make that happen and use feedback from your existing workforce, new starter surveys and exit interviews to point you in the right direction

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When does onboarding start?

The onboarding process starts from the first interaction an employee has with your organisation, continues throughout the recruitment process and ensures a smooth transaction from candidate to employee – and doesn’t stop once the new employee’s start date has passed. A good onboarding strategy will continue well into their first-year of employment, ideally up until the employee is fully productive.


What do I need to do?

1)  Remember that onboarding starts from that first interaction a potential employee has with you. How candidates are treated and communicated with builds their expectation as to the culture within the organisation

2) Once the recruitment process is completed, get your offer and contract paperwork out quickly, making yourself contactable to answer any questions. If there are likely to be any obvious delays in your new employee starting (eg. through a long notice period or processing of background checks), then keep in contact regularly to keep them updated on progress

3) Be consistent. You need to ensure that promises made during the recruitment process are the reality, ensure that the culture you described when they applied for the role does actually exist, and keep managing their expectations so that there are no surprises. Employees are less likely to be early leavers if you do what you say you do, are authentic and show that you care about the experience they receive on joining your organisation

4) Sink or swim doesn’t work for everyone – ensure you have a specific role appropriate plan in place, for training and induction, and get your new employees engaged in your mission and values early on. Remember that it’s in your best interests to get your new employee up and running as quickly as possible, so regular bite-sized chunks of training (rather than all in one day) helps to reinforce understanding. Think about what skills, knowledge and expertise your new employee needs to have in order to do a good job, and take it from there

5) Make sure colleagues are responsible for their parts of the onboarding process, to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. There’s nothing worse than an employee arriving on day 1 and having no desk to sit at or PC to work from! (Sometimes colleagues don’t realise they need to be involved in onboarding of new employees because they expect them to arrive with the full complement of skills already in place, so it’s important to manage their expectations too)

6) Offering a variety of experiences in the first few weeks is ideal – maybe visits to other teams or off-site venues, joining in with meetings (even if only to observe), invites to social events and introductions across the business are all key to feeling ‘included’.  Leaving the new employee isolated can lead to them leaving you in the early stages of employment

7) Onboarding should last for more than a week! Typically your onboarding strategy should cover the time it takes to get your new employee fully productive, so the more time you invest in giving a great onboarding experience,  the more quickly they can get to that fully productive status for you

Why does onboarding matter?

A strong onboarding strategy leads to employees becoming more productive, more quickly. By engaging them throughout their early contact with you, means that you can ensure expectations are met (or even exceeded), and they start with you on day 1 already with a great impression.

‘Touch-points’ should be plentiful and meaningful throughout your recruitment and on-boarding processes, to ensure your candidates and employees feel important. So many organisations describe their people as their greatest asset, so it’s worth taking the time to give your greatest asset, your greatest employment experience.

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No two days in recruitment are ever the same, whether you are dealing with a number of different people, solving complex queries or working on the latest attraction methods. Every day offers a variety of challenges and can evoke a range of emotions.

It can feel a bit like you’re a character in a low budget film. The genre varies from day to day – I am sometimes reminded of Action and Adventure but, in less fortunate cases, Crime and Horror spring to mind.

Often the importance of candidate engagement is prominent when thinking about a successful recruitment campaign. Obviously this is an extremely important stage of the process, but this is where your day can become unpredictable and take on the form of any genre. However, the initial screening process can mean the difference between you being the hero and the victim.

Screening has become such an automated process that we often forget that, without this being done properly, there won’t be any candidates to engage with.

To me, screening is consistently a rom-com. There are so many do’s and don’ts- it isn’t dissimilar to dating.

Don’t get desperate

It is important to take time out to find the right candidate or you could end up in the proverbial bed with the wrong person.

You need someone quickly, but why waste time and resource on the wrong candidates? If your gut feeling tells you they’re wrong, you’re probably right.

Do spend time reading the CV

You know the role and you’re on a tight schedule- it can be tempting to skim over CVs in a few seconds, take in the basics and make your decision. This is where romance can turn in to comedy.

You’ve read their name, you know their most recent or current role and a little bit about their education, but is this really enough?  You wouldn’t base the potential of a date on this information and you shouldn’t for a job either.

Don’t be seduced

I’ve never met a recruiter who doesn’t love to chat and network. Reading someone’s CV or application form gives us a unique look in to their life and experiences.

You get a good sense of someone’s personality and you may have even spoken to them on the phone and got on with them phenomenally well. If this is the case they may be a good companion for a catch up in Costa, but are they really a good fit for the role?

Always give screening the time it deserves.

Rom-coms might not be your thing, but if you can put up with participating for a short while, you won’t get caught up in a murder mystery later in the recruitment process.