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The Correlation Between Onboarding and Retention

President Of TrainSmart, Inc.
The Relationship between Onboarding and Retention

Depending on your perspective, the stories employees tell about their onboarding experiences can either be considered a comedy or horror story. From managers not knowing that a new employee was scheduled to start working to new hires being forced to sit at a desk and read manuals for a couple of weeks because their phones and computers weren’t ordered, employees love to share their survival stories.

While these stories are good for a chuckle and a head shake, when you look at the statistics on the impact it has on employee engagement and retention, these SNAFUs are no laughing matter.

Research conducted by a Harvard Business School Professor suggests that companies could increase their retention significantly by making a very small adjustment to the focus of their onboarding programs. The typical onboarding program introduces employees to the corporate culture, company history and policies and procedures.

According to the research led by Professor Francesca Gino, companies will see increased productivity, retention and increased ratings on customer service if they share how the company values the new employees’ individuality.

What is even more surprising about this research is that companies can see dramatic results just by focusing on the employees’ individuality for one hour during the beginning of the onboarding process.

“Seven months later, the researchers looked into whether the orientation changes affected how long the newcomers/agents chose to stay with the company. “Considering we just changed one hour on the first day of orientation, the results were amazing,” Gino says.

The turnover rate in the control group was 47.2 percent higher than that of the individual identity group, and 16.2 percent higher than that of the organizational identity group. And turnover was 26.7 percent higher in the organizational identity condition than in the individual identity condition. Additionally, employees in the individual identity group had garnered higher customer satisfaction scores during the seven months than those in the control group.”

Professor Gino’s research supports other findings regarding the importance of a strong onboarding program. An article in The Washington Post shared statistics from Corning Glass Works. That company found that three years after employees attended a structured onboarding program they were 69% more likely to be still employed by the company.

For several years the research firm, The Aberdeen Group has been studying the relationship of onboarding to employee productivity and retention. In their latest report, they share the differences between Best In Class Firms and what they call “laggards.”

  • “71% of employees exceed performance expectations, compared to 14% of employees of Laggard organizations
  • 85% of 1st choice candidates accepted an offer, compared to 8% of Laggards
  • 72% of employees rated themselves highly engaged, compared to 9% of employees of Laggard organizations.”

The importance of a strong onboarding program cannot be overstated. According to SHRM, nearly 25% of employees make a sort of career transition every single year. The cost to businesses that fail to retain talent is exorbitant. For more information on how TrainSmart can help your organization create a powerful onboarding program that builds an engaged and productive workforce, contact