One critical and complex, yet often poorly executed, part of the employee engagement journey is the on-boarding process; be it inducting an external hire into a business or supporting an internal move. In order to manage this process efficiently, there are various components of on-boarding that need due consideration:

Who takes ownership?

One of the most common pitfalls when delivering an effective on-boarding process is a lack of ownership and accountability. For many professionals operating a line-management, resourcing or HR remit, on-boarding can slip down the list of priorities and become a ‘second job’. Whilst it is agreed that Resourcing shouldn’t be solely responsible for the delivery of such a process, they should be working in partnership with HR to ensure there is a system that guides new recruits smoothly from offer through to start date / end of probation (dependent on your particular perception of the duration of on-boarding). Line-managers should be up-skilled and given the appropriate tools to on-board effectively based on the clear guidance they receive from HR and Resourcing.

When considering ownership, it’s important to look at which party has the greatest vested interest in the success of the process. Realistically it’s going to be the employee, as the experience is naturally going to fall close to their heart and drive the most passion towards the process. Yes, a degree of responsibility should be placed on the individual but is expecting a candidate to follow a ‘self-service’ journey feasible? Whatever model you decide to use must be aligned to the culture of your business and the level of hire.

Perhaps Resourcing need to be reminded of their vested interest in on-boarding from a networking perspective. It is absolutely in the interest of internal recruiters to ensure that employees are satisfied by their on-boarding process, as without this satisfaction, employees will be less likely to offer referrals and give back to the business. Operating an agency model internally could be the answer to ensuring key metrics (referrals, satisfaction etc.) are monitored and the right types of attitudes and behaviours are exhibited by recruiters.

Our experts’ views:

a) Ensure that every new employee receives a courtesy call from Resourcing in their first week to ensure they have received everything they need to perform their job. Dial this feedback back to their line-manager and touch base with the employee periodically (until end of probation) to ensure all promises are upheld. Monitor line-managers in terms of ‘consistent offenders’ and ‘successful on-boarders’

b) Build the internal resourcing function with ex-agency staff who understand the importance of keeping candidates ‘warm’ through the process and enriching the experience for them

c) The message of accountability should be fed down from the leadership team, so line-managers can see their importance within the process.

A dedicated on-boarding function?

With ownership of the process being questioned, is there a market for a devoted on-boarding function? This model has been successful within some large blue-chip businesses but there absolutely has to be the volume and budget to warrant such an expense. If a business choses to opt for such a structure, it’s crucial for the team to work incredibly closely with resourcing and talent to ensure a seamless transition from one party to the next; preventing the candidate / employee feeling like they are being passed from pillar to post. Typical responsibilities of the ‘on-boarding function’ might include organising travel arrangements for candidates, liaising with pay roll, issuing ID cards, co-ordinating induction, enrolling new recruits on training programmes and trouble shooting problems.

Measuring the process

It’s now more relevant than ever to demonstrate ROI and monitor the success of company initiatives. But what are the most important metrics to focus on? Three of the most common measurements tend to be around retention, time to productivity and candidate / employee satisfaction. When monitoring satisfaction levels, generally an employer will survey the candidate after first interview, following an offer and then again when in role. It’s advisable to look closely at varying results across department, location, level of hire and whether the candidate was successful during the hiring process. For retailers, one of the most important questions you can ask a candidate is ‘will you still shop with us?’, as this is one of the biggest risks an employer should look to mitigate.


One of the most common problems with adding automation into the on-boarding process is the reduction in personal contact. Generally speaking, people spend more time at work than with their friends and family, so ensuring the process appeals to a candidates’ emotive side is key. On-boarding is essentially a customer service experience, which is why it’s crucial to ensure a process is technically efficient without removing those all important personal touch points. 

A Headhunter’s Dream – it’s not over till it’s over

That ‘quiet period’ between offer acceptance and start date is the optimum time for your candidate to be counteroffered by either a persistent headhunter or by a current employer. It’s essential not to become complacent when recruiting talent (particularly when dealing with long notice periods) and presume that the deals done; ensure you maintain high levels of engagement. Employers can create social networking groups to keep candidates ‘warm’ and introduce them to other individuals also about to join the business. This sense of community is priceless to many individuals who are about to make a (often) life changing jump into a new organisation. Additionally, encourage line-managers to take the time to meet, phone, email, organise systems’ permissions and timetable the diary of the new recruit before start date. In most cases, candidates will have a strong desire to learn as much as possible about their new employer before they start, use this to your advantage to send them preparatory reading; a great excuse to get in touch.

Final thoughts

What’s clear is that many businesses view on-boarding in different ways, from what it encompasses to when it starts and ends. This isn’t a bad thing, as long as internally all involved parties understand process ownership, contribution and timeframes. The ultimate goal for on-boarding should surely be to get people to fall in love with your business and be welcomed into the company in a timely, organised and efficient fashion. The best way to damage your employer brand is to set fantastic expectations throughout the recruitment process and fail to deliver upon offer acceptance. After all, who wants their on-boarding process to be seen as the hangover after the cocktails?