FYI: Early Experiences Impact Long Term Success For Employees AND Your Business

Posted in Best Practice Thoughts & Culture

88% of businesses screw up onboarding.

That’s not because they don’t know onboarding matters, most people we chat to know exactly how crucial exceptional experiences are for new hires...

But overhauling an organization's onboarding is often left on the backburner because nobody is sure where to start. Transformation feels too big and complex.

The good news is, it’s actually pretty easy! And you can easily make small changes that have a big impact. Right now!

We’ll show you.


Here’s A Pretty Typical New Hire Story 

You’re super excited to hire Zack – but it’s grad recruitment season so you’re also incredibly busy. People to call, quotas to fill, etc.

When you’ve finally hit your numbers, you BCC new hires into a quick welcome email. You’re flat-out so it takes you a few days to reply to Zack’s question about dress code, but you get there eventually. No biggie, right?

Fast-forward to Day 1. After Zack’s navigated the complexities of your office block and found the right room, you shepherd him into a two-hour company presentation. Next stop, office tour. A flurry of names and faces.

Then lunchtime. You show Zack where the kitchen is and tell him to help himself to milk, tea, coffee and condiments.

Afternoon. Zack’s empty desk doesn’t have a computer yet – no prob; you grab him a laptop. Then his log-in doesn’t work; IT haven’t set him up yet. IT fixes the problem within the hour: lift off!

Over the next few days, you run a handful of training sessions and the CEO pops over when she gets a moment and introduces herself personally.

By the next week (or so), you’re back onto business-as-usual.

Everything is fine, right?


But Let's Consider Things From Zack's Perspective

Zack’s been anxious and stressed about his future for weeks. Choosing between offers was the biggest decision of his life (after all, 34% of grads have declined at least one offer!) but he feels like he clicked with your organization so he signs the contract – woo!

But then, nothing.

  • Has he done something wrong?
  • Do you still want him?
  • Where did your ‘click’ go? Was he imagining it?

Then you email him, phew.

But it’s obviously a mass mail. He feels disgruntled – he’s obviously not as important to you as he thought.

And he’s got loads of questions.

But he’s nervous and doesn’t want to be a burden, so he only asks the most important questions. His brother is visiting tomorrow to take him shopping – but he’s not sure what your dress code is.

But you don’t reply. He checks your social media and careers page (the two most important investments for employer brand), but there’s no guidance there either so he has to guess.


You're Too Busy For Him And His Silly Questions

Then Zack forgets all about you. It’s another two months before he starts, after all, and its exam season. He’s stressed about making his grades.

Another company contacts him though and they sound very cool. He’s on the fence – but you get lucky. This time. 70% of graduates are happy to back out of an offer they’ve accepted.


Fast-forward to his first day. Zack’s more nervous than he’s been about anything, ever.

  • He’s uncertain about his clothes.
  • He’s nervous that he is forgetting something.
  • He’s catastrophizing about everything that might go wrong.


So by the time Zack actually arrives he’s bursting with adrenaline and anxiety. Now he’s extra shy and he struggles to absorb anything during the presentation. He’s bored and tired and it’s not even lunchtime.

Eventually, office tour. Better! But he’s anxious and overwhelmed; he can’t take in everyone’s names and he feels like an idiot. And everyone seems busy he worries that he is a nuisance, interrupting everyone’s day.

Then lunch. He wants to pop out but he’s not sure what your culture is. He’s scared of being silently judged, and nervous of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.

Afternoon. No computer. Something 42% of employees across the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand experience.

Zack felt special when you hired him but now he feels unvalued and insignificant, as business-as-usual continues around him.

First week. Zack’s had basic training but he’s not entirely sure what he should be doing. He doesn’t feel he can speak up, so he struggles in silence. When his manager finally checks-in, Zack feels like a failure.

His confidence sky-dives so he struggles even more on the next project. He psychs himself out. It’s not long before he stops trying – he doesn’t see the point because he’s lost all faith in himself.


Zack’s become one of the 85% of employees globally who aren’t engaged at work (Gallup). And he’s almost definitely one of the 51% of employees considering a new job.

And it doesn’t end there.


Plummeting engagement is contagious, because Zack’s colleagues have to pick up the slack. Their workload increases; their bandwidth decreases; team morale stagnates.

Soon the most basic tasks feel like wading through water. Everyone’s demotivated and demoralised. Soon, Zack leaves. Like the other 10% of employees who don’t make it to a year’s tenure, according to HR Magazine’s 2017 data.

And it won’t be long before colleagues start doing the same.


Momentous Change Starts With Innocuous Moments

Zack’s experience is pretty common because it’s so easy to underestimate the power of seemingly innocuous moments.

The copy-and-paste email. The slow response. The dull presentation. The missing chair. The unanswered questions. The speed-dating-style introductions.

You wouldn’t think small moments like that could result in plummeting productivity, meagre morale, terrible turnover and catastrophic culture collapse. But that’s the thing – little moments add up to have a momentous impact on your new hire's experience.

And That's Actually Great News

Because the flipside of Zack’s story is, delivering an awesome onboarding experience isn’t rocket science. It’s about making small changes that add up to big results. 

New hires who experience a structured onboarding program are 58% more likely to be with your business after three years, SHRM say.


Read more: 3 Steps to Nailing your Onboarding Overhaul

  • Imagine if, the day Zack signs your contract, he receives a welcome video from CEO. That’s a powerful message.
  • Imagine if, the week before Zack’s exams, his new team sent him a good luck message. Pretty powerful.
  • Imagine if you introduced him to colleagues and other new starters via email before he starts, so he’s not starting completely fresh and alone on Day One.
  • Imagine if you sent him a welcome pack that answered all his questions before he could get anxious.
  • Imagine if he arrived not only to a desk, computer and log-in but also to his own mug, company t-shirt and his favourite 3pm snack waiting on his desk.
  • Imagine if you scheduled lunches for Zack with a different team member every day for his first week, so he could build deeper relationships rather than trying to memorize blurted names across busy desks.
  • Imagine if you assigned him a mentor, so he’d know who to ask about the unspoken rules.
  • Imagine if you arranged cross-functional projects so he could get to know people across the business.
  • Imagine if his manager sat down with him every week for 6-months (yes, onboarding should last that long) to chat about his progress and hurdles. Imagine what that would do, to help Zack grow, overcome challenges and build confidence.

(You don’t have to imagine. SHRM say a structured onboarding program like the one we’re describing delivers 50% greater new hire productivity.)


If you did those things, it is highly likely Zack wouldn’t feel disgruntled. He wouldn’t feel silly. He wouldn’t feel anxious, or too-nervous-to-function. He wouldn’t feel insignificant or undervalued. He wouldn’t feel like a failure, which wouldn’t knock his confidence so much that he’d struggle to overcome setbacks.

He’d feel respected. Included. Confident. Valued. Heard. And in turn, unafraid of failure. Excited to bring new ideas to the table. Animated when collaborating with colleagues.

And Zack’s positive experiences would start rubbing off on the team. And that’s when engagement soars and productivity explodes.

Work that once felt like wading through water feels like gliding on air.  That’s flow. That’s a company culture that clicks.

That’s why:

  • 52% of organisations believe onboarding improves retention rates
  • 60% of organisations believe onboarding improves productivity

And it all comes from onboarding new hires effectively, by creating new hire experiences that have a massive, lasting impact.


Enboarder is the world’s first experience-driven onboarding platform. You can deliver great onboarding experiences without using Enboarder. But it’s a whole heap easier, faster and less stressful with our visual and engaging software. 

Here’s how it works. 

Become an Enboarder insider!