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Efficiently Onboarding New Employees is Crucial to Talent Management


22% of staff turnover happens in the first 45 days

91% of workers are retained by companies that have an efficient onboarding process


Onboarding New Employees has Been Disappointing


 What a new employee thinks about your company is often determined by two things.

  1. Their experience in the first week (onboarding), and

  2. The first impressions of their immediate manager.

Particularly in larger companies, the onboarding process is slow and painful. The new employee arrives at reception only to be told to take a seat and wait to be picked up. You knew they were starting today. You told them to show up at 8 am. They did. Why isn’t someone in reception at 7:55 am ready to welcome them? Your new employee is excited to join your company. Their first experience should not be sitting in reception for 15-30 minutes waiting for someone to officially receive them. 

The employee is eventually picked up and shown to their office. There’s a computer in their office but no-one can tell the employee what their ID and password is. You try to contact IT, but your company is so large that IT requests operate on a ticket system. You now have your employee sitting beside you as you enter an IT support ticket… and now they wait…again. 

IT contacts you and says that your employee does not yet have an email address set up or an employee ID number. HR has experienced several “no show” employees in the past who accept offers but then don’t appear for work. As such, they previously decided not to activate someone in the HR system until they know the employee is actually in the building. 

HR activates the employee and an electronic request is entered to get the employee an email address. There are computer systems that the employee will need to do their job, but each one requires an approval process with multiple approvers. Your approvers are out of town on business or on vacation. The employee waits… 

The employee needs a company cell phone for their job. Off you go to enter another request in the IT system for equipment. The employee waits… 

I can keep giving examples, but we all know how it goes. The first week or possibly the first few weeks are incredibly painful for the new and enthusiastic employee. By the time everything is set up, much of that enthusiasm is lost and the employee is wondering whether all processes in your company are this slow and whether anyone really cares that they have joined your team. 

Mapping the Onboarding Process is Key to Improving the New Employee Experience

With today’s tight labour market, the companies that will win the talent competition and employee experience battle are those that have mapped out their recruitment and onboarding processes and run projects to improve the speed of both. For the future workforce, mapping out the onboarding experience of freelancer/gig workers is also crucial. This can be even slower than onboarding an employee, especially if these flexible workers need to “hurdle procurement” approval and gain access to systems. From my experience, getting procurement approval can take up to two months. In that length of time, your flexible workforce has moved on to serving other companies. 

Process Mapping for Process Improvement

Creating a process map is probably one of the best tools that can be used to improve the onboarding process. A process improvement project of this nature goes like this:

  1. Map out the current process and all task dependencies. The process is rarely what you thought it was.

  2. Gather an appropriate team to brainstorm improvements to that process.

  3. Determine how you will measure success of this project (measure onboarding speed, employee experience).

  4. Implement the changes.

  5. Monitor the success measurements. 

The tools that can be used for these projects are readily available. Process diagram tools exist or you can use Microsoft project. MS Project is great at displaying task dependencies and the critical path of an entire process. Once you have determined your improved process, you will need a way to track where new employees are in that process. Some companies have used the workflow tool in Office 365/SharePoint for this type of tracking. 


The onboarding process for employees and freelance workers is key to competing for talent. Current onboarding processes are painfully slow and in a world of great technology, it shouldn’t be that way. Employees lose their enthusiasm when they spend much of their first few weeks with you sitting around waiting for approvals, equipment and access to systems. HR, IT and employee managers need to come together to remap this process. 

Ready to map out your onboarding process? 


Tracey Smith is a recognized analytics expert, speaker and author. She is the President of Numerical Insights LLC, a boutique analytics firm addressing the needs of businesses large and small. If you would like to learn more about using data for better decision-making, please visit or contact Tracey Smith through LinkedIn.