Companies around the world are dealing with a “turnover tsunami.” 69 million people quit or switched jobs in the U.S. in 2021. The trend is set to increase in 2022, especially among younger generations. A recent Microsoft survey found that 52% of Gen Z and Millennial workers are likely to consider changing employers this year. That’s a 3% rise compared to the previous year. The situation is equally concerning across the pond. A poll by Randstad UK found that 69% of UK workers are ready to switch jobs. What’s behind this perfect storm?

The answer should be obvious by now: poor engagement and dissatisfaction. Studies show that a mere 21% of workers feel engaged at work today. Almost half would say they feel disconnected from their company and far too many think their company culture was negatively impacted by the pandemic.

This makes it imperative for HR teams to rethink their work environment. Onboarding is a critical and yet often neglected element in this process.

69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for 3 or more years if they experience great onboarding. loyal employees
But only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new hires. satisfied employees

When onboarding fails, candidates feel that their organization is not delivering on the promises made during the recruitment process. This can make or break the relationship from the start. Without a good onboarding program, you risk delivering a bad experience that will result in an endless cycle of churn. This certainly damages your reputation but it’s also detrimental to your bottom line. Research shows it can cost a company six to nine months of an employee's salary to identify and onboard a replacement.

What exactly makes a good onboarding program? How can you design it to help new hires be productive and engaged? How can you standardize it, scale it and easily manage it across regions?

Find out in this guide. In the pages that follow, we will explore best practices to deliver a great onboarding experience and considerations for choosing an onboarding tool.

This Guide is ideal for:

HR Managers
Talent Acquisition Managers
HR IT Pros

Onboarding defined

Let’s start with the basic definitions.

Employee onboarding is the process of formally integrating new employees into your organization. Yes, part of it is making sure all compliance docs are signed. But a successful onboarding program goes further: it should make new hires feel welcome and immersed in your company’s culture. It should introduce them to the tools and teams they will be working with. Most importantly, it should be the critical first step towards a meaningful relationship and set your new hires up for success, so they can be productive and build a career at your company.

You can do this with a simple, yet tailored and engaging onboarding experience that can be managed at scale.

Deliver a compelling new hire experience

The best onboarding programs kick off more than 2 weeks in advance of the start date. They should make new hires feel welcome and create excitement about their new role, rather than being solely focused on compliance. This section addresses best practices to ensure your new hires have a delightful and effective onboarding experience.

Start your employees off on the right foot: focus on purpose, culture and brand

The importance of purpose cannot be underestimated in the onboarding journey. Your new hires should feel connected to your company’s overall mission. Make sure you communicate their role’s contribution clearly from day one. Connect them to the people they will be working with day-to-day and foster meaningful conversations from the start. If possible, set up a buddy or mentorship program so they immediately get a feel for the work environment.

Recommended materials to share in this part of the journey include:

Company videos or presentations company video or presentation
Culture books Diversity Toolkit Report booklet

Provide structure: manage all onboarding tasks in one easy to use new hire portal

New hires shouldn’t feel like they have to complete a laundry list of items at once. Each item should be triggered in a timely flow, so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Your onboarding solution should have all tasks neatly arranged. It should ensure visibility and traceability in one view, so you can take action and nudge candidates along if they fall behind. This level of organization allows you to be more strategic in your engagement with the candidate.

Typical tasks in this part of the journey include:

  • New hire training and corresponding certificates (if applicable)
  • Scheduling meetings with hiring manager and team mates
  • Sharing your employee handbook
  • Remote or hybrid work guidelines (if applicable)
  • Arranging equipment handovers
  • Informing new hires about benefits

Key Insights:

organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 62% greater new hire productivity and a 50% increase in talent retention.

Simplify task completion: process all documents easily through e-signature

Simplifying task completion keeps new hires engaged as they progress through activities. A modern onboarding solution should support e-signatures to create an easy-to-use environment while, at the same time, standardizing compliance. It should also contain workflows that ensure the validity of e-signatures, such as an audit trail or a clear signal of intent from the signer.

The U.S. ESIGN Act and UETA, and the European eIDAS regulation have contributed to the widespread adoption of e-signatures globally. These legal frameworks make e-signatures as legally binding as physical signatures (except for specific use cases, like wills).

Compliance documents for your new hire to sign digitally might include:

  • A data retention policy
  • W4 and I-9 Forms for U.S hires
  • A direct deposit authorization
  • An emergency contact form
  • A social media policy

A modern onboarding tool should also allow you to customize these and other compliance steps more granularly by location and by role.

Define the onboarding process globally, configure by role and location

Different roles, industries and regions will require different due diligence tasks. Remote hires require a different onboarding experience. Your onboarding process should be defined globally but customized for these different use cases. Let’s delve into configurability in more detail.

Custom workflows per role

A good onboarding solution should enable you to configure the process for your specific industry and for specific roles within your company. For instance, food businesses will require food service certifications for certain employees. Logistics companies will request driving certificates or a commercial driver’s license. European businesses may have stricter data and privacy policies. Make sure your onboarding solution supports this level of granularity so you can offer an equally engaging and compliant experience for all of your new hires.

worldwide map

Custom workflows per region and multi-language support

A great onboarding tool should allow you to do onboarding at scale without genericizing. It should enable you to build custom workflows that are specifically designed for the country or region. Your UX should seamlessly match the native language. This removes any manual configuration and ensures scale.

Onboarding docs that might vary by region or role include:

  • Holiday allowance and benefits
  • Work authorization forms

Customized remote onboarding and collaboration

Many organizations are adopting a hybrid working model, but are they well-positioned to deliver an engaging onboarding experience remotely? This is a major pivot you need to make to fight employee churn. People want a more flexible work-life approach. At the same time, research shows that new hires’ reliance on their managers for onboarding support increased by 20% compared to before the pandemic. This can be especially critical for remote hires, who don’t have in-person interactions with their team.

As a best practice:

  • Organize multiple touchpoints to keep the relationship warm. For example, you can create tasks for the hiring manager to check-in with the new hire one week in, one month in and 90-days into the role.
  • Define project milestones and remote review cycles for the new employee to help them stay on track and identify any potential risks.
employees talking

Your onboarding tool should provide clear visibility into stakeholder involvement so there is a high level of engagement for the candidate and nothing falls between the cracks. If the hiring team hasn’t scheduled a call to meet the candidate this will result in a terrible remote onboarding experience. Mitigate these risks by involving the hiring team and assigning clear tasks from the start.

Look for tools that put data collection, feedback and management on cruise control

Your onboarding process should prioritize collaboration and relationship building, but you can’t lose sight of important details which may have emerged during the recruitment process. Look for onboarding tools that are native to your Talent Acquisition Suite or closely integrated with your tech stack. This section illustrates how full data visibility and process integration results in a better onboarding experience on the whole.

Data visibility for better onboarding

Data you collect at the start of the recruitment process can be invaluable to personalize the onboarding experience for new hires, resulting in more successful outcomes. For instance, you may have identified that the candidate had some skills gaps that need to be addressed through training. An onboarding solution that is native to your Talent Acquisition Suite can leverage all of the data collected in the hiring process to create personalized workflows for specific skills gaps. A solution that integrates with an ATS is likely unable to do this without significant development effort.

new employee completing survey

Feedback gathering

Your onboarding solution should also make it easy to gather feedback from your new hire and the hiring team. This will enable you to improve your onboarding process and overall talent acquisition strategy. Obviously, you should send a net hiring survey at the end of the onboarding period. But you might also want to collect feedback at different stages of the onboarding process to make improvements as you go.

Efficient HR operations and data integrity

From an HR operations standpoint, a solution that provides streamlined data collection and visibility can be equally beneficial to prevent unnecessary work. For example, all the payroll information you capture during onboarding should be automatically passed on to your payroll system. Your onboarding tool should collect and transfer any data the new hire submits through forms and update your HRIS based on the progress they make.

This level of integration also ensures data integrity. HR Operations teams are tasked with ensuring the accuracy of employee details in the HRIS. The level of scrutiny around this often leads to repetitive efforts. To prevent this, ensure data hand-off straight from the source during onboarding.

No heavy lifting for IT

Many HR teams consider using a point solution for onboarding because their ATS does not support this part of the process. But using multiple point solutions opens up different security holes and results in taxing integration projects. A great onboarding solution shouldn’t pass this burden onto your HR IT team. This should be taken care of by robust, preset integrations. Ensuring data is being handed over correctly to the HRIS should be more of a check-off item, not a development area they have to scope out. There's tremendous value in sticking with one platform that has robust integrations and native onboarding capabilities. HR IT pros will appreciate that it’s easier to manage and monitor.

In a nutshell, consider these capabilities when choosing an onboarding tool:

  • An easy-to-use portal that streamlines task management for new hires, HR and the hiring team
  • Custom workflows for configuration by location and role
  • E-signature support for efficient document completion and global scalability without increased compliance exposure
  • Ability to gather feedback
  • Data visibility and easy management through robust integrations with your ATS and HRIS


In the age of employee churn, you can no longer afford to deliver a poor onboarding experience. Streamline compliance so you can focus on building a great relationship with your new hire from the start. Customize your onboarding program for remote and local needs, as well as for each role. Use key insights at your fingertips to personalize the new hire’s experience and make sure you gather feedback to improve. Look for an onboarding tool that connects with your existing tech stack and provides a simple, tailored, and engaging onboarding experience that can be managed at scale.