Personnel e.bulletin – April 2013


 Prepared for the PHCC Educational Foundation by TPO, Inc.

You have just invested time and energy to get your recruiting process to work well. You are excited about the quality of your new hires. Why then, are you finding that your new employees are not hitting the ground running, seem disengaged, and in some cases leaving all too quickly?

The answer lies in the importance of a well structured On-Boarding Program; its impact cannot be underestimated.  Let’s start with some industry research.

  • “Few companies give much thought to creating the right on-boarding experience. Unfortunately, this oversight might be the biggest mistake employers make. New employees are 69% more likely to stay after three years if they’ve experienced a well-structured on-boarding program.”  – Fast Company
  • “22% of staff turnover occurs in the first forty-five days of employment. But, new employees who went through a structured on-boarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years.” – The Wynhurst Group
  •  “The cost of losing an employee in the first year is estimated to be at least three times salary.” – The Wynhurst Group
  •  Productivity lost to the learning curve of new hires and transfers: 1-2.5% of total revenue.  – University of Virginia Researcher, Rob Cross
  •  65% of “best in class” companies cited that on-boarding has the greatest impact on time to productivity. – Aberdeen Group

On-Boarding vs. Orientation
To date, you have most likely been focused more on orientation than on-boarding. You arrange meet and greets and ensure that all the paperwork is completed. Although the atmosphere is one of welcome, the activities are mostly tasks for the benefit of your company: signing acknowledgements of policies, filling out emergency contact information, and signing various payment or legal forms.

The distinction between orientation and onboarding is an important one. Orientation can be the beginning of onboarding but the actual onboarding is a strategic process that can last up to a year, depending on the position, aimed at a much larger goal – immersing your new employee in your culture and vision. It focuses on experiences rather than tasks.

As a starting point, begin thinking bigger about what On-Boarding is and is not.


On-Boarding Is On-Boarding Is Not/Not Just
A measurable series of deliberate actions Unimportant
A business priority, responsibility, and investment with quantifiable impact A cost, the responsibility of HR
Cultural, even transformational (particularly at leadership levels) Operational
360° involvement (manager, peers, subordinates) Just HR or otherwise one-sided
Systematic and smartly staged A fire hose – content without context
Holistic  – inclusive of a variety of transitions The first week/month
Different by audience segment One size fits all
Personal and two-way – recognizes and celebrates what new employees bring Impersonal
Ripe for tools A folder
Planned and systematic A series of isolated events
Ideal for innovation and creativity Boring, impersonal

Once you have made these mental shifts, you are ready to take action with you new hires.

Eight On-Boarding Actions You Can Take Immediately

  1. Send new hires a welcome letter and/or package before they start. Do not underestimate the power of making a good first impression.
  2. Announce your new hire to your team.  Celebrate what your new hire brings to your company, they will feel immediately valued.
  3. Assign a Buddy. Nothing helps more in the early days than having a friend.
  4. Develop a three month plan. Let new hires know what they can expect and what you expect: a written plan detailing objectives, strategy, and expectations of future results helps diminish any confusion about a new employee’s job duties and your expectations.
  5. Schedule one-on-one time.  Ensure you connect regularly with the new employee. If you can’t do this on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, schedule meetings to provide feedback at 30 – 60 – 90 day checkpoints, or before a semi-annual review.
  6. Clarify the company culture.  To avoid future confusion (or embarrassment), provide the employee with company information, formal policies (including dress code and late policies), and informal norms and behaviors. Your new hire won’t know how to fit into your culture, unless you “show and tell” them.
  7. Find opportunities for new hires to experience quick wins. It is an outstanding way for them to build confidence and to feel part of the team.
  8. Hold managers accountable for the success of new hire assimilation. Request formal feedback from managers and new hires at the end of 90 days. Take this opportunity to address any issues of concern as well as note any accomplishments so that all parties are confident that the new hire is poised for success in his or her role.

Results You Can Expect
When you invest in a well structured approach to On-Boarding, you will reap the benefits.  You can expect to:

  • Reduce time to productivity. The amount of time it takes a new hires to become fully capable in their job and provide a positive impact to your business.
  • Protect your recruiting investment. Cost saving achieved by helping the employee through the first 120 days, the “danger zone” for new hire satisfaction.  Employees quickly feel happily situated and are less likely to make a negative employment continuation decision.
  •  Reduce costs associated with learning on the job.
  •  Increases morale.  Not just with your new hire, but your entire team.

Few activities are as culturally defining as how a company manages the transitions of their people. Transitions, by their very nature, are hard – for new employees and for the team. Think about making improvements to your on-boarding process as an opportunity to define your culture as one that recognizes the importance of transitions toward building a foundation for future success.


This content was developed for the PHCC Educational Foundation by TPO, Inc. ( Please consult your HR professional or attorney for further advice, as laws may differ in each state. Laws continue to evolve; the information presented is as of April 2013. Any omission or inclusion of incorrect data is unintentional. Please note this article is not intended to provide legal advice or to substitute for supervisor employment law training.

The PHCC Educational Foundation, a partnership of contractors, manufacturers and wholesalers was founded in 1987 to serve the plumbing-heating-cooling industry by preparing contractors and their employees to meet the challenges of a constantly changing marketplace. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting the Foundation by making a contribution at

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