PROOF | change communication & employee alignment


Onboarding opportunities

"Working from the outset to make new hires feel a real connection with your organisation will repay itself in the future, because feeling you are connected is the foundation of alignment. An employee who feels a sense of connection and engagement commits more quickly to achieving organisational goals, and is more likely to work hard to deliver on strategic ones, too.”

Sascha Becker, Head of Strategy at PROOF

It’s good business to give new hires a warm welcome

Is your organisation making the most of onboarding opportunities?

Signing a job contract is about more than just putting a signature on a piece of paper. It actually marks the starting shot in a kind of wish-exchange between employer and new employee. The organisation wants to get the new employee up to speed as fast as possible, which makes the new employee feel welcome. At the same time, the new employee wants confirmation that the picture that was painted during the application process presents a fair and true likeness of the reality.

So what can you do to ensure that your reality lives up to the image you painted? And what role do HR and Communication have in this? A lot has happened over the last year when it comes to the ‘science’ of onboarding, yet even so, many organisations continue to drop the ball. Here are some tips on how not to be one of them.

First impressions matter
That first impressions matter is not only true of the initial job interview. Research by HR magazine ERE Media has found that a third of new hires know within a week whether they are likely to want to work for an organisation for an extended period, or not. The same research also found that a third of new hires leave the organisation within six months. All this means that it makes sense for the organisation to ensure that its new hires feel at home. How? By giving them a warm welcome and immediately making them aware of everything the organisation has to offer. This won’t prevent people leaving soon after joining, but it will reduce the number, which is a significant win in itself, as replacing employees costs the organisation significant time, effort and so money.

The costs at a glance
Every time someone leaves an organisation ‘prematurely’ it costs you the following:

  • The cost of finding a replacement – advertising costs, job interviews, candidate screening, etc.
  • The cost of an onboarding programme – the required training that a new candidate needs and the time a manager or colleague invests in guiding a new candidate.
  • The cost of lost productivity – on average, it takes a year for a new employee to become as productive as the person they replaced.
  • The cost of lost commitment – high turnover can cause frustration and discouragement among your other employees, resulting in lower commitment or productivity.
  • The cost of more work pressure – when employees leave, it can increase the work burden placed on others. This can lead to people being overworked, and to lower quality.
  • The cultural cost – employees may start to ask themselves why so many other people leave the organisation.

The phases of onboarding
The onboarding process starts the moment someone signs on the dotted line. The process that this kicks off can be broken down into five phases: the period up to someone’s first day at work; the first day at work; and the first 30, 60 and 100 days.

The period up to the first day at work
Not every candidate can start straight away. Typically, this results in a period of silence, which inevitably sees their energy and enthusiasm ebb. Instead, the gap between signing and starting should be used to tell new hires more about the organisation they are joining, and to enthuse them about their next career step.

The first day at work
This is the big one. The reception someone receives defines their view of the organisation going forward. How do you welcome someone to your organisation? Are the basic facilities and tools they need to do their job ready and waiting for them? Is someone prepared to show them around?

The first 30 days
The first 30 days are all about acclimatisation and acquaintance. The new hire is taught the ropes, gets to know everyone and starts to learn what the organisation stands for, what it aspires to and how it plans to achieve its goals. The new hire discusses how they can contribute to this with their manager and colleagues.

The first 60 days
The next 30 days are all about education. An effective onboarding programme facilitates the new hire so that within 60 days they know what the organisation’s strategy is, and what is expected of them. They get training using a classroom-based and/or digital onboarding course offering tailored training, personal guidance and a digital platform and gamification techniques.

The first 100 days
The goal is to have an employee who is organisationally acclimatised and fired up to perform within 100 days of joining.

How can Communication and HR contribute to effective onboarding?
A good onboarding programme sinks or swims on the quality of the collaboration between Communication and HR. Good, strong collaboration increases the impact of everything you do. Weak or poor collaboration undermines it.

The content of an onboarding programme differs per organisation. Each organisation has its own culture and values. Communication and HR jointly determine, with the hiring manager, what the onboarding programme should comprise. The programme’s starting point is the organisation’s story, including its values, and everything that happens within the programme must be based on these. This applies to the information that the new hire gets about the organisation and its objectives, and to the training they receive during this phase.

5 factors in successful onboarding
We include the following points in the onboarding programmes we develop for PROOF clients. Maybe these could you, too:

  1. A small gesture is worth a lot – a personal welcome with flowers or other culturally appropriate gift, plus genuine interest from colleagues before or on the first working day, ensure that your new hire feels at home right away. This helps them to have a positive image of you as an employer, and contributes to their longer-term motivation and involvement in the organisation.
  2. Enter a dialogue – dialogue is an important aspect in subsuming new employees into the organisation’s story. Being immediately open to the contributions of your new hires can lead to new insights, new ideas or a new workflow. And remember that onboarding is not just for new hires – their colleagues will also want to get to know them.
  3. Manage expectations – Make clear from the start what the employee can expect during the onboarding programme, and what you expect of them.
  4. Make sure everything adds up – as soon as Communication and HR have created the onboarding programme, make sure that all messages are consistent. Onboarding is the opportunity to start positively aligning the employee to the organisation. The activities undertaken during onboarding all contribute to how the new hire will do their work. This makes it more efficient and effective to take an integrated approach, to combine online and offline, and to ensure the programme is measurable and scalable.
  5. Ensure good follow-up – once you have a good onboarding programme in place, think about a good follow-up and how to help other people build a network.

Want to know more?
Call Sascha Becker for more information and inspiring cases.


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