Mar 30, 2023
Jul 11, 2023
People Network Articles
CFO Network

Building an Effective Onboarding Process

Mar 30, 2023
Jul 11, 2023
People Network Articles

Building an Effective Onboarding Process

In a market that is tight for talent and where competition between employers is so high, it is no surprise that there are so many occurrences of candidates changing their mind in accepting a job before start date or resigning from jobs in the first few weeks. It is one of the most frustrating features of the current recruitment market for many employers.

A positive recruitment process across the attraction, interview, feedback and offer management stage will all make a positive difference. The onboarding period can be an opportunity to make a critical difference and can easily be overlooked.  

We were delighted to be invited onto a webinar with First Intuition earlier this month, sharing a panel with other recruiters & HR Leaders to present on the subject of onboarding young adults into the workplace. There were over 100 delegates in attendance and so much engagement, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the key messages for employers;


1 - No long gaps in contact
  • The euphoria of the job acceptance may start to dip for the candidate and the line manager can be complacent that they have got their candidate. The period before the start date is a really important gap to bridge with regular contact. The best way to guard against nerves, doubts and anxiety is to fill the time period with regular shots of positive communication.
  • One of our corporate clients (and a great employer) has a structured communication plan for candidates giving one, three and six month notice periods and for graduates. They have a list of sixteen reasons to be in touch.
  • Sign new candidates into the HR portal, share the values statement, the Welcome Pack with the important details (of what to wear, where to park and what facilities exist for lunch…etc…) and an itinerary for the first few days.
  • Most importantly, make the communication work both ways. One of the most effective comments to make is “What would you like to cover in your first few days?”

2 - Peer-to-Peer Contact

The interview stage is often led by managers and leaders.

The onboarding period is a time to introduce future peers.

  • Introduce your new starter to their new colleagues before they start. Candidates will want to build relationships with who they are working with, there will be questions they have that they are more comfortable asking their peers and it creates a more supportive bubble.
  • Invitations to social events before the start date can help significantly. If that is not possible, just communicating when informal or social events in the first few weeks will happen can be reassuring.

3 - Use Digital Technology

There are so many new digital platforms to aid the recruitment and onboarding process. Capterra can help any employer (no matter how big or small) to work out which software can help to support a recruitment and onboarding process. Some of the numerous options available are listed below;

Almost all candidates will expect some element of their onboarding to be digitalised – from using digital signatures for contracts, video messages from the CEO to the values statement, so much of the process can be done efficiently online.

One of our past articles highlighted some research that showed that many candidates are now more comfortable sharing their personal details and equal opportunities data with a third party.

4 - Make it Personal and Connect

So much of the recruitment process can be done remotely and digitally now. We heard on the webinar from another national recruiter that “70% of the cases where a candidates changed their mind between accepting a job and starting was when their recruitment process had been remote”. The recruitment process had been very efficient in many respects, but the connection had not been made with the candidate.

Digitalisation is accelerating but a digitalised recruitment process needs to be balanced by a strong connection made between the candidates and their future colleagues. There is no substitute for meeting up in person – and not just on one occasion during a recruitment process.

Before the start date, make sure your starter has been into the office, met the team and had the chance to ask their most important questions.

5 – Benefit from some marginal gains!

The labour market is tight. Good candidates are in demand. Every Employer Value Proposition should be regularly assessed and re-evaluated. Getting the important details of the recruitment process is important, but some of the minor things – the personal touches can make a huge impact.

The good luck card the week before starting, a text the night before and a little bit of personalised attention is not only reassuring to the candidate, but starts to build a deeper connection. A number of the employers on the webinar had designated people to manage communication at the pre-onboarding stage.

Receiving a welcome box, a full stationery set or business cards (remember those!) on day one will not be the major headline on a first week, but they can make a material difference.

Past generations may have aimed to create such a good onboarding experiences that the candidates “told their mates down the pub”. The current generation are more likely to share their experiences on Instagram and Snapchat. The welcome gifts always encourage this to happen a little more.

The picture above is of the Pratap Partnership personal “Walk & Talk” Coffee Mugs. Everyone has theirs ready before Day One. It may only be a small gesture, but it is all part of a larger package of our EVP.

For any more information on this topic, please contact Gemma Hutchinson.

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