employees collaborate to complete team building activity 2015

Best practices for better staff retention

Published on 4 Jun 2015 by Stuart Harris

Setting aside time to set up the new employee is something we all know we should do but as the majority of us barely have time to eat lunch let alone take the new employee out, it rarely happens. A 2007 survey showed the employees were 58% more likely to stay at a company for over 3 years if they had a structured onboarding process. A structured onboarding process is not only the best way of getting your new staff member into working effectively on projects as fast as possible, but it is also the best way of making them feel comfortable, happy and valued in their new workplace.

The return on investment from onboarding process

Undoubtedly your company invested time, money and thought into the hiring a good fit for your company. It therefore makes no sense to throw that new employee into the deep end feeling confused and unaware of what is expected of him/her. Investing little to no time onboarding your new employee will likely end with them jumping ship within four months. It will cost you more of your valuable resources going through the hiring process again than if you had just planned a simple schedule from day one.

The first day of onboarding

Remember the first day of your job. Did you wait a long time in reception for someone to show you around? Were you lumped on the edge of someone else’s desk and left for long stretches of time unsure of what you are supposed to do, but too afraid to ask the rest of the busy team? If so then you experienced a bad onboarding process and it probably took you the rest of that week to even fully understand what was expected of you in your role, who your supervisor was and it was probably longer still until you were able to contribute any meaningful work.

In a good onboarding schedule the first day is simply an introduction. You should

  1. Show them their desk - you MUST assign them a proper desk
  2. Take them for a tour around the building, show them the bathroom, photocopier, break room and parking lot
  3. Introduce them to their colleagues
  4. Address what is expected of them from in their role
  5. Be upfront about the things that irk you e.g. punctuality or making excuses. The first day may not seem like a good time to say these things, but it is a lot better to express them before they are acted upon, each workplace is different and has different pressures and allowances.
  6. If you have any sort of present for them or company merchandise, place it on their desk as a gift bag.
  7. Have another staff member take them out to lunch
  8. Set them up filling in paperwork and logging into your different work management systems.

Most importantly be empathetic to how frightening the first day is and try and make it as soothing and fun as possible.

The first week of onboarding

That first week reveals much more about your company culture than you realize. New employees use the first week as a test to see if they are the right fit for the job. Taking care of the new guy/girl demonstrates that your company values people, as it’s most important resource. If you have a new hire during a particularly busy time, resist the urge to lump them with work, plunging them straight into the deep end.


  1. Have them shadow more mature employees for a day or two to witness the process first hand
  2. Make sure they meet their immediate manager for a meeting during this first week. In that meeting the expectations of the role should be laid out as well as a discussion about short and long-term goals.

Workplace satisfaction and employee engagement increases dramatically if your staff feel they are heard and respected. In the first week it is as simple as displaying gratitude that this new person chose your company to work for.

The first 3 months of onboarding

By the end of 90 days you will have a feel of how your new employee is contributing to your company. If you have a three-month probation period then this is the perfect time to let them go if you feel they are not a right fit for your company without getting into the nightmare of unfair dismissal claims. If you do want to keep them on (let’s hope you do after all of that onboarding you did!) then at the end of the 90 days is time for a performance review. It is early enough in the piece to set good habits, inform them of processes that are not working with your team and reward them for work well done.


Training and onboarding are different things, but it does not mean they cannot go together. As stated by Michael Falcon from Experience Academy

“Employee onboarding is the design of what your employees feel, see and hear after they have been hired. Often, companies confuse onboarding with training. While training does have a role within the onboarding it doesn’t represent the entire scope of the process.”

Take your training processes just as seriously as onboarding. Keep in mind that the human brain can only absorb so much in a day. A apprenticeship style training will always be more effective than a 2 day sit down talking to ending with a booklet with all of the point printed out.

Onboarding will save you money and time

It will also create a nicer workplace environment for the whole team. When new employees are aware of what is expected of them, not overwhelmed by tasks they have not been briefed on and encouraged to socialize with their colleagues, it creates a nicer environment for everyone. People are the core asset to any workplace, demonstrate how much you understand this in your onboarding process.

Stuart Harris

Co-Founder and Managing Director at Team Building Asia

Stuart Harris has built Team Building Asia into Asia's most prestigious and effective team building company.

Interested finding out more about Team Building Asia programs?

Get in Touch

All Articles

Recommended Reading