Employees who go through structured onboarding are 58% more likely to stay long term!

At edge we care about onboarding. All our recruitment projects include a complimentary onboarding support option to help managers and new hires build a strong relationship!

This blog post was originally published in collaboration with Village Capital on medium.

Some managers worry about putting in too much time to onboard employees. They’re tempted to throw new team members into the deep end: “After putting all this effort into hiring, I still need to make time for onboarding? Should my hire not be an expert in their field?”

But the data shows: employees who go through structured onboarding are 58% more likely to stay for three years. Even if you find someone with the right skills and knowledge for a role, they still need to adjust to how things are done in your organization, and they will need guidance.

Consider these two scenarios:


We suggest that every organization and management team discuss two crucial questions in-depth around onboarding:

  1. What space do you need to create for a new employee to perform?
  2. As an organization, how can you make the best of a new employee’s probation period?

Below we’ll provide a few pointers on how to approach these questions. Our full onboarding toolkit, with templates and design activities, is linked at the bottom of this page!

Space to perform

The first crucial question to think through is: What space you need to create for a new employee to perform?

Good questions to help you plan your approach are:

  • How will the team and the manager build trusted working relationships with the new hire, one where it’s easy to handle all arising clarifications and misunderstandings without hesitation and fear?
  • Rule of thumb says that 70% of adult learning is done by doing, 20% by conversation and only 10% in formal learning! What information will you need to make available to them? What pace and which portions will be most digestible? What conversations will they need to have? With who? And how can they, while actually doing the job, adjust to your organization’s approach without high risks?
  • In terms of fitting into your culture, how will you help them unlearn certain behaviours and unwritten rules which helped them survive with other bosses and in say, less innovative, more hierarchical, more risk-averse, more structured environments?

The probation period

The second crucial question is: As an organization, how can you make the best of the probation period?

The probation period is not simply about the employee proving themselves. When the probation period ends, you want to be able to say a wholehearted “Yes, this is a great fit!” or a determined “Unfortunately it’s a ‘no’, and we are sure because we tried everything”.

This is a crucial responsibility managers hold. Take intentional action to avoid painful onboarding traps like unclear expectations (“Well, I thought I was supposed to…”), delay in support and resources (“Actually, I asked several times for xyz and I didn’t get it, so I honestly think that the low project results can’t be blamed on me”), or talking only when things are not working.

Here are some ways you can maximize the probation period.

Set clear expectations:

  • Agree on and write down what you expect in terms of work outcomes and results. SMART goals are still in fashion!
  • Most bosses find it easy to set numerical goals, but make sure to also discuss (and write down) the desired quality of work outcomes (much harder!).
  • As part of this performance agreement include also development goals: What skills and knowledge should the new hire acquire? What networks will they need to create (for themselves to succeed in this role)? What mindset shift might be required to fully adjust to your organizational culture. (you’ll have worked on some of this in the earlier part of this blog post)

Offer resources and support

  • Make it clear to the team that collaboration with this new person is not a choice. Especially if a new role was created, the whole team needs to adjust their way of working to involve the new role holder and make space in their 40 hours.
  • Clarify to the new hire what resources they will have (budget, your time, internal documents/guides, permission/authority, templates, access to networks etc), so that the person can plan based on this knowledge. For example: Who are they allowed to email without your knowledge/approval? Who not? Also, you’d rather pre-approve a fixed budget however small, than having them wait for your approval of single cost items.

Provide regular reviews and timely feedback

  • Point out what is working well to reinforce the desired behaviours, effort, thought process and approaches to work. Provide encouragement and assurance.
  • Clarify what is not working well. People need to be told about how you feel about their performance, otherwise they can simply not know and change.
  • Learn as the manager how to phrase your feedback in a way that reduces the chance of the employee getting defensive.
  • Science tells us that people remember a negative conversation 5 times more than a positive one. In turn this means that if you want the person to feel good about themselves and the relationship with you (which you want!), you would need to make sure you point out what is working a lot more than things that are not working.

onboarding toolkit downloadNeed support in onboarding your new team members?

Download our toolkit here with valuable tools and tricks you practically apply to shape your onboarding processes! And remember let us know how the toolkit is working!

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