Weekend Poll Results: Progress to Be Made With Onboarding

With thanks to all who participated in my latest Weekend Poll, here’s a look at your responses to my question … How do you help onboard or induct new colleagues?

The lay of the land

A modest 53% of respondents said that your organisations have an onboarding program with documented protocols/processes in place for new hires. Twenty-seven percent do have systems in place, but haven’t documented them; what will happen when someone else takes over such practices? Another 13% of respondents said that you help new hires, but that it would be a stretch to call it an onboarding program. For 7% of respondents, there’s no onboarding program of any kind in place.

You and HR: Who does what?

It’s fairly typical to see that HR handles some aspects of onboarding, and then respondents’ offices taking care of the rest; that’s the case for 77% of respondents.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported that HR has a formal program, and that you coordinate with them as to who will cover which aspects of onboarding. Almost a third of respondents, 32%, reported that your HR people have a formal onboarding program, but that it’s not necessarily hosted near an individual’s start date – and so people in your office do what you can right away. For the same reason, 7% of respondents have documented your practices that assist new colleagues right around their start dates.

More than one in five of you, 21%, said that each office within the organisation does it’s own thing when it comes to onboarding new colleagues.

96% of respondents say assistants play a role

… informally or otherwise. I asked readers who serves as the onboarding point person within your respective offices. Forty-six percent of respondents said that they’re the one who takes responsibility for coordinating onboarding within their offices. A further 7% identified another assistant within their respective offices as being the point person; that’s 53% of respondents who identified an assistant as the person taking coordinating onboarding practices.

Another 43% of respondents reported that you don’t really have a system, but that assistants generally help out by responding to questions and providing guidance. Wouldn’t it help to have a system in place?

The remaining 4% of respondents reported that it’s your principal (boss) who coordinates the onboarding in the office. It’s great that these people are hands on, but might their time and salaries be better invested by participating in (rather than coordinating) the onboarding?

Impacts on productivity

I asked readers to assign a rating from 1 (low) to 3 (high) to indicate how disruptive it can be to your work routine when a new colleague is first settling in to the office. A third of respondents gave the highest possible rating, and 23% of you were able to give a “1” rating.

If assistants’ productivity is impacted, you can imagine how your new colleagues are doing … and what that means for the organisation overall. When an organisation has a well planned and documented onboarding process in place, it supports productivity, reduces potential for mistakes, and helps new colleagues more quickly come up to speed. Respondents noted that this also supports a good office and organisational culture.

77% consider existing programs beneficial

Another 23% don’t. That suggests room for improvement in more than a few organisations – let alone establishment of onboarding practices in those organisations that don’t already have a system in place.

You’ll find all the data below and, if you and your peers would like to invest time in getting onboarding right, my February 21/19 webinar can help you add even more value to your organisation. Click here for full details.



Note: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options as well as anecdotal responses. In instances where more than one person offered similar responses to an open ended question, I typically cluster or paraphrase such responses rather than duplicating all of them.

1.  On a scale from 1 (low) to 3 (high), which of the following best describes the frequency or predictability with which new colleagues join your office/division/department/unit/branch/faculty (your “office”)? 

  • 52% of respondents: 2 (It’s predictable that we’ll see a few new hires each year)
  • 32% of respondents: 3 (high – It’s the norm, whether on a quarterly/ semester/ seasonal basis or otherwise)
  • 16% of respondents: 1 (low – Infrequently; we don’t see many personnel changes)

2. Does your organisation provide an onboarding/induction/orientation (“onboarding”) program for new hires?

  • 53% of respondents: Yes, and we have documented protocols/ processes in place
  • 27% of respondents: Yes, although we don’t have documented protocols/processes
  • 13% of respondents: We help new hires, but it would be a stretch to call it an onboarding program
  • 7% of respondents: No

3. Which of the following best describes the business unit with primary responsibility for onboarding new colleagues?

  • 77% of respondents: HR handles some aspects and our office takes care of the rest
  • 13% of respondents: HR
  • 10% of respondents: Our own office

4. If your HR colleagues play a role in onboarding for new hires, please describe the frequency with which such sessions are hosted.

  • 63% of respondents: Within a new hire’s first week or two on the job
  • 17% of respondents: As required; it’s not a scheduled event
  • 8% of respondents: Monthly
  • 8% of respondents: Quarterly
  • 2% of respondents: Annually
  • 0% of respondents: Once per semester
  • 0% of respondents: Semi-annually

5. If your office and HR both play a role in onboarding, which of the following best describes practices at your workplace?

  • 39% of respondents: HR has a formal program and we coordinate with them as to who will cover which aspects of onboarding
  • 32% of respondents: HR has a formal program, but not necessarily near an individual’s start date, so people in our office do what we can right away
  • 21% of respondents: Each office does their own thing
  • 7% of respondents: HR has a formal program, but not necessarily near an individual’s start date, so our office also has documented practices

6. On a scale of 1 (low) to 3 (high), how disruptive to your work routine is it when a new hire is first settling in to the office?

  • 43.5% of respondents: 2 out of 3
  • 33.5% of respondents; 3 out of 3 (high level of disruption)
  • 23% of respondents: 1 out of 3 (low level of disruption)

7. a) If your organisation HAS an onboarding program in place, do you consider it beneficial?

  • Yes: 77% of respondents
  • No: 23% of respondents

7. b) If your organisation doesn’t have documented onboarding protocols/processes, would it help if you did?

  • Yes: 100% of respondents
  • No: 0% of respondents

8. If you have an onboarding program in place, how do you see it benefitting the organisation? I invited readers to select any and all responses that applied and, in descending order, the following represents the frequency with which such benefits were noted. I also invited readers to note additional benefits, and have recorded those under #9.

  1. New hires feel welcome
  2. It accelerates new hires’ productivity and It supports a good office/ organisational culture (these two were noted by an equal percentage of respondents)
  3. It accelerates assistants’ productivity, given fewer questions/interruptions

9. How else does (or could) an onboarding program benefit your office/organisation?

  • Makes new hires feel welcome
  • Helps new hires start on the right footing
  • Helps to reduce mistakes
  • Meets all employee annual standards, i.e. security & compliance
  • Increases employee engagement, satisfaction and retention
  • it is more of a high level once over of the organisation, the team is expected to pick up the how we get work done activity and that sadly is often left to me
  • Surely it must save money and ensure good working practices/corporate governance are in place. Less illness and stress with new hires and aid (aids with) retention.
  • All of the above statements (this refers to the options presented in #8; I made a mistake in the original set up and this respondent was unable to select all four of the response options)
  • There is a culture here at our school and it helps the new hires understand that culture. Each year we have new employees and we induct them as a class.I am a part of the class of 2012. We still get together as a “class” and help each other.
  • I am leading the development of a formal onboarding program that will guide new starters from day one through the first year of employment. My vision is a comprehensive structured framework that specifically goes through everything that needs to happen, when, and the people involved, responsible, and accountable for each component. The basis is a series of detailed checklists for each time frame, and detailing every involved topic, resource, tool, person, department, business process, etc. I have an HR admin background and have been a key player in the delivery of employee onboarding programs in the past. Because in my current role I am so heavily impacted by the chaos, confusion, and inefficiency caused by not having a structured onboarding program, I was inspired to take the lead on formulating one. I have received some push back, but ultimately am now supported by most on this goal.
  • Our HR department introduces the company but not the role or the division. It’s great to know where the cafeteria is, but there are other things that I think should be shared in a specific manner when a new hire starts.
  • A well organized office creates a better impression to new hires. To arrive at a place that seems to be in some sort of level of chaos may create resistance to the organization culture.

10. If your office plays a role in onboarding new colleagues, who is the point person/the person who takes responsibility for coordinating such undertakings?

  • 46% of respondents: I’m the point person
  • 43% of respondents: We don’t really have a system, but the assistants generally help out by responding to questions and providing guidance
  • 7% of respondents: Another assistant in our office is the point person
  • 4% of respondents: The principal (boss) within our office is the point person

11. In your office, are new colleagues typically assigned a mentor or “buddy” to help them out in their early days?

  • Yes: 58% of respondents
  • No: 42% of respondents

12. Please select any and all of the following that form part of onboarding practices within your office/organisation. Note that I invited readers to select any and all applicable responses; the percentages below reflect the percentage of respondents who incorporate the following specific elements in their onboarding programs.

  • 90% of respondents: Personal introductions to key contacts
  • 86% of respondents: Tour of the organisation
  • 79% of respondents: Account privileges – IT and other
  • 59% of respondents: PowerPoint presentation
  • 55% of respondents: Hard copy documentation of key info, contacts, policies, resources, etc.
  • 48% of respondents: Overview of schedule/priorities, commitments and/or imminent deadlines
  • 21% of respondents: Other audio-visual presentation
  • 7% of respondents: Visio presentation

Note: None of the respondents identified any of the other 11 onboarding components I’d include as options.

13. If your office/organisation offers an onboarding program, which of the following best describes how it’s paced?

  • 32% of respondents: Full day event
  • 25% of respondents: Half day event
  • 18% of respondents: Tucked in as and when time permits
  • 7% of respondents: Paced with incremental provision of info
  • 18% of respondents offered additional comments, provided below under #14.

14. Please briefly outline scheduling/pacing of your onboarding program, if your organisation offers one.

  • We have a 90 day program. The first day is a full day of onboarding and training then activities gets spaced out throughout the week and are followed by check-in discussions with about every 15 days with the supervisor or welcome partner (buddy).
  • Pre-start= all paperwork, First day= all day onboarding, day 2 = departmental onboarding. Also have 30, 60, 90 day items and checkins
  • First 2 weeks of employment
  • Once a month, half day, quick once over of the overall organisation, we are very fragmented business units across a vast regional area undertaking many different types of services
  • A 2 hour class that goes through benefits and what HR does. Often weeks after a start date
  • It’s conducted (for) one hour at the end of each month by the HR Department.
  • 4 days of onboarding and one day of corporate social responsibility
  • Meeting colleagues, setting up the system, 1:1 with the boss, lunch with colleagues happen on the same day. Online assessments are done during the following two or three weeks according to the due date established.
  • As we are a small organisation, the new member of staff will sit down with our HR person for a tour of the office, which includes health & safety, fire evacuation etc. Then they will spend a few hours with their new team, including lunch and then back to HR for more information in terms of general information, pay day, benefits, staff handbook and any questions they may have. During their first few weeks they will also spend time with other departments, so they gain a basic understanding of how all the departments work together. All staff are actively encouraged to welcome new staff members, so that the new staff member feels at home within their first week. HR have an open door policy, so any problems the new starter is very welcome to go and discuss their problems.
  • Onboarding is electronic mostly. It is a collaborative effort with many people in our office. HR has 1/2 day on Day 1. The direct Manager has the rest of Day 1. Day 2 is for paperwork, tour & the start of meetings. Work project given. Day 3 work is reviewed & IT is confirmed for full functionality. I am then point, as needed to direct to help-desk & self-service directories.
  • We do a four day week onboarding program in the fall. Each of the Deans of the school present to the new employees. HR, IT and our Facilities Directors also give an overview. If an employee begins after the start of the school year, they will spend an hour or two with HR and will slowly meet with others to learn as much of what is presented during the training at the beginning of the school year.
  • See my comment above. The program I am developing starts on the new employee’s first day and continues on throughout the first 12 months of employment, with multiple ‘checkpoints’ such as first day, end of week one, end of first month, three months, six months, 1st year anniversary, etc.
  • The day starts with a company overview/history. You meet with IT and get your laptop/phone, meet with a benefits coordinator then have lunch with your supervisor. In the afternoon, you tour the campus.
  • Morning – HR, SHE, Occupational Health, Security briefings Afternoon – Organisational and Functional Inductions
  • On the first day we arrive at office we have a half day of on boarding and then meet our “buddy”. HR goes through values and vision of company as well as policies. We then have induction training over the next month via virtual classes.
  • We do courses for new assistants as and when we can really – it’s a secondary duty but within business areas it’s up to them to look after new hires. I am building a OneNote for the business area I work in that can be shared with new hires to give them instant access to resources they may need in first few weeks. However within the dept as a whole its all a bit haphazard we are spread among many places, no corporate “this must happen” apart from mandatory training, may be personality led in areas. I can only focus on my business area and although pressed for time sometimes I make time for new hires as I recall what it was like for me; people have to learn somewhere, and my boss supports this even when people are not in his line management chain.

15. In your office, are resources such as contact lists, meeting schedules, policies and so on accessible DIGITALLY for colleagues?

  • 40% of respondents: Yes; we make them available online and by hard copy
  • 27% of respondents: Yes; we publish them online only
  • 16.5% of respondents: No
  • 16.5% of respondents: Yes and no; we make such available to only a restricted group of colleagues

16. If resources as noted in #16 are published digitally for colleagues, what system(s) do you use to provide access?

  • 63% of respondents: Organisational intranet
  • 15% of respondents: SharePoint
  • 15% of respondents: OneNote
  • 3% of respondents:Other portal
  • 5% of respondents: We have a PDF document that we circulate by email
  • 0% of respondents: Google Docs/Sheets
  • 0% of respondents: We have a PDF document that’s posted online

17. If you provide digital resources (contact lists, meeting schedules, policies and so on) through a system other than those outlined in #16, please identify the system(s)/software you use.

  • Dropbox
  • We use a combination of Teams, Google Drive and an external HR Portal.
  • We do updates with an email and then on our website.
  • SharePoint
  • Intranet
  • OneNote
  • Outlook (this received a few mentions) / Meetings published in Outlook / Outlook Global Address List and Sharepoint
  • Email

18. If your office/organisation offers an onboarding program, please identify some of the key elements/practices people find beneficial.

  • New hires’ interaction with staff from across departments
  • Staff Handbook – full of useful information for new starters including where to get lunch, staff benefits, pay day, who to go to for help e.g., IT issues, HR issues. Induction with other departments, help them gain a better understanding of how each department links into each other. HR – we have a fantastic HR person who always checks up on new starters and has an open door policy for everyone.
  • History and understanding how vast the company is
  • Immediate access to the major systems, admin full assistance on questions, being welcomed by the whole team
  • Org chart, tour p&p employee handbook/Review of workplace policies one on one meetings with team members meetings with supervisor onboarding checklists buddy system company plan/Strategic vision and how they fit into it training on procedures and IT systems used, etc.
  • Having a OneNote resource. Our 1 day course for assistants covers skills, attributed, competences for assistants, cyber, civil service values and how they relate to the role, how people can perceive you and behaviours, dealing with difficult people/situations, corporate governance, building your own network (internal and external) to aid what you do and why its important.
  • Intranet for them to explore at their leisure
  • Access to me for directional-type questions
  • Everything we offer, from culture to product development
  • Practical training on role based responsibilities (“a day in the life of”), regular check ins step by step instructions sharing of key contacts, calendar details, resource(s/) information to be effective at their job
  • The tour of the campus and having an assigned benefits coordinator
  • I have never heard feedback from new hires.

19. If you’ve been involved in onboarding OR supporting the transition for new colleagues in your office, please identify the types of roles they hold/held.Note that I invited readers to select any and all applicable responses; the numbers below reflect the percentage of respondents who support onboarding of colleagues in the roles mentioned below.

  • 28% of respondents: Management other than my principal (boss)
  • 28% of respondents:  Other assistants/business support professionals
  • 20% of respondents:Colleagues in roles not represented in other options identified here
  • 7% of respondents: My principal (boss)
  • 4% of respondents: Faculty members
  • 4% of respondents: Health professionals

20. If you have provided onboarding for your current (or a past) principal, what information, resources or practices did s/he find most valuable?

  • Work flow management within the department
  • Introduction to key contacts (external clients)
  • One reader referenced comments made in response to #18
  • Immediate access/ownership of their schedule
  • Collection of ALL their travel profile requirements
  • Trusting in my loyalty to the company to provide them with honest guidance
  • Org charts of the other business units we work with and a history of how we interact with other parts of the business
  • For my boss I keep a list of those he should have initial meetings with being new to the particular role he is now in. I also have something called a new boss checklist which I go through with them v early on (or even during handover) to find their preferences for things.
  • The history of past employee and of the company. And they valued information on needing to have thick skin.

21. What are some of the questions most frequently asked by new colleagues in your office?

  • Where can I find the documents that everyone references?
  • On day 1 – Where is the bathroom? On day 2 – Where are local food places – other than the building cafe? On day 3 – Do you have …? I want/need … (supplies) First fire drill – Where do I go? Can I take my …
  • Timesheets, expenses, payroll, IT, personal protective equipment, travel, and – sadly – how to use Microsoft tools!
  • Where to go for lunch
  • How to work the dishwasher
  • Reporting lines (structure)
  • To go to places/ facilities (welfare related, e.g., canteen; dining; washrooms)
  • When is pay day / do they hold back one week of pay benefits related questions
  • When is such and such visiting the office again
  • Can I have such and such IT software license
  • Who does what
  • How do I complete an expense report / book travel / contact tech support / set up a meeting
  • What is the travel per diem?
  • Accounting and purchasing policies and procedures
  • How to access the system; about team meetings; about benefits; about their new clients; about regular procedures; about expense reports
  • Where can I find … numerous items … Whats the code for … Have you got the … How do I … so many – they often forget to look at the electronic resources I have set up for them too, and for the immediate team I have an office procedures manual on OneNote for them. They also forget to look in the multi-user calendar and contacts too!
  • Why the high level of turn around within the past six months?

22. What are some of the hurdles (if any) that you see new colleagues typically encountering in their first week on the job?

  • They are largely left to their own devices.
  • For some, especially support staff, there is not anyone in charge of on-boarding and helping out with how to accomplish normal, routine tasks. You just ask and hope you get the right answer.
  • None, as we always ask the new starters for feedback to ensure that our onboarding is continually improved.
  • Fitting into established cultures
  • Knowing where to go and who to speak with about certain issues
  • Getting to know people / Understanding the organisation, key contact & where to find information
  • Having time to get their feet under the desk, read stuff and find out where all their electronic resources are
  • Understanding the flow of activities
  • The feeling of being overwhelmed. Much reassurance is taken so they proceed in stride.
  • (We are a) huge corporate, so policies and procedures
  • IT challenges / Learning the technology tools / IT! Computer not available – either hasn’t arrived or is in partial set-up.
  • Lost – the office maze of cubes and walls is confusing
  • Who does what
  • Lack of clarity around expectations/their role
  • Understanding the rhythm of how things are done and when to be seen to connect with the wider business; it is easy for an expert to stick their head in their work but they need to understand how it all connects across the business

23. Thinking back to your first days and weeks in the office, what kind of onboarding/information would have been helpful to you? 

  • (A) more thorough guides of specific duties
  • A list of which employee helped with which issues
  • Organisation chart, collective agreement, rules and guidelines
  • A manual for my work place. I have since then compiled one so my successor will not have to figure things out on his/her own. / Staff handbook – with the assistance of HR, I have created a staff handbook which is used with every new starter who joins. / An employee handbook and/or policy and procedure manual, an org chart, tech support, instruction on various software programs used, contact lists, SOPs / An updated procedures manual for all of the tasks not specified in policies.
  • A big book of how things are done here; the company intranet was contradictory and out of date, there were so many unwritten rules that someone needed to tell me about. I built a network of assistants as there was nothing when I came on board.
  • When I joined 18 years ago we did not really have an onboarding so it would have been helpful to be introduced to processes and procedures.
  • Detailed orientation about the premises, including emergency exits, assembly points and first aid rooms
  • Getting better and clear language when it came to the different systems, departments and procedures. People working in the company tend to use too many acronyms.
  • Having an assigned person in the same role responsible for spending time with me
  • A point of contact beyond the manager, at the same level or above, to provide insight to answers (different from mentoring)

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