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Continuous Onboarding Versus “Hell Week”

A new Bamboo HR study shows the problem with short or poor onboarding: Employers have 44 days on average to “make or break” a new hire. That’s because 70% of new hires decide if a new job is the right fit for them within the first month. But it doesn’t start there: Nearly half of new hires regret their decision within a week (23% even cried during that first week).

“These findings show that recruiting top talent doesn’t end with an offer letter,” said Anita Grantham, Head of HR at BambooHR. “Smart organizations know that onboarding is actually ‘hiring phase two’ and is much more than a welcome email and a tech checklist. Those critical first 44 days need to create new hire confidence by continuing to advocate for the company’s mission and values, the importance of the role they fill, and the plans for growth and success a new employee can anticipate.”

In 2019, we wrote about the importance of significantly extending an onboarding timeline. At that time, nearly eight in 10 large employers’ onboarding programs ran under three months, and 38% of employers reported that their programs were only a week or less. If you’re like many employers, your onboarding process hasn’t expanded much in the years since. And that can be a serious problem.

“An extended onboarding period is paramount to a new employee’s success,” says The HT Group Founder and CEO Mark Turpin. “It’s a time for the new employee to get to know the company, the culture and the core values so that they will be better equipped to carry the mission forward. If done right, you will reduce turnover and increase motivation.”

New employees also need more time to process and learn. According to, the average new hire must complete 54 activities while onboarding. And then there’s all the tech and tools to get acquainted with. It’s no wonder a recent Glean study found that 81% of employees felt overwhelmed while onboarding.

“Many employees typically use 11 different platforms and apps in their day-to-day work. Sifting through the mountain of information that’s generated and stored across all of those apps takes considerable time, costing the average employee an entire workday per week on search activity,” Glean Cofounder and CEO Arvind Jain writes. “All of this leads to a perfect storm of lost productivity, insufficient knowledge discovery and, most importantly, unsatisfied workers set up to fail.”

Disaster Avoidance Experts’ Gleb Tsipursky offers compelling proof that “a poor onboarding experience can leave employees feeling uncomfortable, confused, and dejected.” He shares with Harvard Business Review (HBR) the following studies:

  • A survey by Paychex found that 52% of new hires feel undertrained after onboarding, with employees of small companies (66%) and remote workers (63%) suffering the most.
  • A staggering 50% of newly hired employees plan to leave their jobs, with that number skyrocketing to 80% for those feeling undertrained due to poor onboarding. On the flip side, only 7% of well-trained employees plan to leave soon.

Our previously recommended solution—backed up by multiple studies—extends your onboarding efforts to an entire year or more. In fact, what if you never stopped onboarding? What if you continually supported, taught, and grew alongside your employees constantly? Paychex promotes the idea of re-onboarding or putting “all employees through the onboarding process again, no matter how long they’ve been working for the company.” According to the Paychex:

  • 71% of employees want their employer to perform a re-onboarding.
  • Re-onboarded employees are more focused (47%), energized (42%), productive (34%), and efficient (33%). 
  • Re-onboarding also increases employee retention by 43%.

But what if you never let your employees feel the pain of suffering an onboarding draught in the first place? What if you adopted the idea of ABO (Always Be Onboarding)? Many in the HR world call this ‘continuous onboarding.’ At its core, it’s simply a culture that embraces continuous training, professional development, communication, and employee feedback loops.

“When you don’t invest in your employees, when you show apathy towards their development—whether it’s after one week, one month, or one year on the job—you end up with employees not invested in your company,” says The HT Group President Chad Macy. “They become either extremely bored due to poor engagement or extremely stressed due to inadequate training. In either case, I guarantee they’re already searching for a way out.”

Our advisory team can assess your onboarding and employee satisfaction efforts and help you develop strategies like continuous onboarding for more consistent retention.

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