Onboarding can be the Key to Employee Success and Retention

Maureen Leif, President, Grays Peak Strategies

Hiring the perfect candidate is difficult. First you need an updated and meaningful job description and particularly in the Public Sector where responsibilities tend to shift over time, that is harder than you would think. Next comes the marketing and with millennials now making up such a large portion of the candidate pool, we need to diversify how we market on social media. Finally, you find yourself pouring over the resumes looking for the right candidates to bring in for an interview and I know most of the time that involves multiple interviews with multiple people. So, you find the candidate, hire them and then give yourself a pat on the back right? Not so fast. You’ve invested all this time and energy getting the right candidate and now your job is to provide a welcoming and positive experience for those employees with a strategic and organizationally adopted on-boarding process.


On-boarding is an important piece of giving new employees a good impression of the organization as well as assisting them in being able to learn how they can contribute. On-boarding also contributes to employee retention and overall job satisfaction. It is defined as a process in which the employee is given the information and skills to become an efficient contributor to the organization. This process effectively acclimates new employees to the correct skills, behaviors and office culture so that employees feel welcome and are able to understand how they fit and in how they can directly contribute their skills and talent to the performance outcomes.


For example, in child support program reviews, one of the themes that often appears is the importance of understanding how the work done by an individual in one unit directly impacts the entire child support process. New employees need to gain an understanding about the entire process of a child support case and why each piece is critical to the overall success. In child support cases, if one does not interact with the actual parents on a case, it is easy for a worker to loose context and not have a complete picture of what positive outcomes for a family child support can contribute to. On-boarding should involve shadowing co-workers from other departments to gain a better world view of a case. When I worked as a Child Support Attorney, It was often a common practice to provide opportunity for caseworkers to observe court and this also assisted staff in having a more complete view of the process.

There are several key points to consider in developing an on-boarding process: 

  • Leadership (Director, Managers and Supervisors) must be involved with the development and support of the on-boarding process
  • Standardized on-boarding practices should be in place across the organization
  • Involving all areas of operation for design, development and delivery of on-boarding process increases buy in and ensures it is carried out effectively
  • Develop an office-wide tool/checklist for new managers to follow with new employees
  • Develop interdepartmental communication protocols
  • Implement continuous evaluation of your training program and on-boarding process to ensure they are current and effective
  • Implement coaching or mentor network for new employees
  • Evaluate new on-boarding processes with follow-up interviews and survey with new employees, make necessary changes based upon feedback
  • Compare baseline employee retention rates with post implemented on-boarding rates to assist in getting a return on investment figure for planning 

Think back to your first day on the job. For many of us, after filling out some tax paperwork, and possibly meeting a few people who sit near us, we were left to our own devices. Maybe there was training at some point, depending on the job. Imagine how much better it could have been if there was a process in place designed to make you feel welcome, informed and part of the overall team? While getting a new job is most often a positive thing, it can also be very stressful, and a good on-boarding process can help alleviate that stress, and provide you with a more prepared and engaged workforce.


Need help devising an on-boarding strategy that works for your organization? Contact us and we can help you come up with a process that makes sense and achieves results.