Best Practice

How Your Onboarding Process Can Help You Retain Employees


Most employers have a probationary period for new employees and closely monitor their progress during that time. What is often forgotten is that the employer undergoes its own probationary period when new employees assess how well the position and organization align with their short-term needs and long-term goals.

The statistics are staggering. One recent survey found that 30 percent of new hires will quit in the first 90 days. We can’t overstate the need for a robust hiring process — but that’s a topic for another day.

After the hire, the most effective way to boost long-term retention is through a well-developed onboarding process that quickly assimilates employees into the culture, helps them develop meaningful relationships, and supplies them with the tools, mentorship and support system needed to succeed. Here are some elements you should include in your onboarding process.

Welcome Kit

Instead of just sending an offer letter, prepare a welcome kit for new hires. A welcome kit should include an offer letter. The difference is in the presentation and tone.

The letter in your kit should not only outline the standard offer letter details, but also mention how excited you are to have them joining your organization and include any relevant networking information. Writing in a conversational tone lets candidates know you are relating to them personally, rather than as just another cog in the machine. Include at least one statement personalized to the candidate, based on what you learned during the hiring process.

If possible, include a way for new employees to complete mandatory HR paperwork ahead of the start date. They will be excited to begin making a difference on their first day — instead of spending it filling out paperwork.

Including a gift box or surprise basket is another way to show the candidate your appreciation. If relocation is necessary, coupons from local shops and restaurants, sports passes or theater tickets can help the family get settled. Also include branded merchandise with your organization’s logo to help candidates feel connected faster.

First Day

The most important thing employers need to remember for a new hire’s first day is to be prepared.

Imagine you have enrolled in an MBA program, and it’s time for your very first class. You’ve bought your textbook and laptop, and you arrive 10 minutes early. You arrange your supplies on your desk as you wait. … Finally, seven minutes after class should have started, the professor arrives. He promptly informs the class that he only planned his syllabus out for the first month and didn’t print enough for everyone.

How optimistic would you be about the class? Or about the MBA program?

This is how employees feel when they show up excited for their first day only to be told, “Well, I guess we’ll have to find a place for you to sit” or, even worse, “It’ll be a few days before IT gets your computer system up and running, so just read these manuals.”

Perhaps one of the hardest parts of being a new employee is remembering everyone’s names. Instead of walking the new hire around rattling off names, have everyone schedule individual times to stop by the new hire’s work area. If possible, have the current employees bring their business cards. If not, have them be prepared to provide contact information. This not only makes it easier to remember who everyone is, but it also reinforces how excited everyone is to be welcoming the new employee to the team.


Managers often focus on hiring people with specific pedigrees, such as certain degrees and years of experience. Even the most qualified candidates, however, will need some training.

Every organization has its own unique policies, procedures and quirks, and those will need to be conveyed through the onboarding process. The secret to effective training lies in balance. You want to make sure new employees know everything they need to know without boring or overwhelming them.

Some broad categories of topics to address include: company information, such as culture, values and benefits; responsibilities and accountabilities for the particular job; and tools and established processes.

A stellar onboarding program is essential in securing high retention of new employees. Build on the excitement they’re already feeling and let them know from the very beginning that they are valued members of the team.


Patrick Ropella is the chairman and CEO of Ropella Group, an executive search firm specializing in the chemical, technology and consumer products industries. Based in Milton, Fla., he is the author of The Right Hire.

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