Onboarding remains at the top of HR’s agenda despite COVID-19

London, UK, 3 June 2020 – According to a recent webinar poll* by Cezanne HR, 65% of people have onboarded new employees while their workforce has been working remotely. The webinar marked the launch of Cezanne HR’s new report: ‘The Psychology of Onboarding: Optimising the new-starter experience in the digital age’.

The report, which combines psychology insights with employee and employer case studies, also reveals findings from a recent survey around onboarding experiences. While recent events due to the COVID-19 pandemic might mean that many people are working remotely or under different circumstances, the principle of onboarding remains the same: it’s about engaging people with their role and organisation as quickly as possible.

Looking at onboarding from pre-boarding through to the first day and then on to the following weeks and months, the survey revealed that 18% of survey respondents didn’t hear from their employer between job offer and first day, 20% of people didn’t have their equipment ready for them on their first day, and 51% of people didn’t experience a programme of welcome events after their first day.

Everyone surveyed had been with their employer from 6 months to 3 years, and were asked when they decided they’d made the right decision in changing jobs, ranging from ‘before or as soon as they accepted the new job offer’ to ‘I’m still not sure’. Just over three quarters of respondents (77%) had decided they’d made the right decision from early on to after their first week, whereas 24% selected ‘after 6 months’ or ‘I’m still not sure’.

These findings formed a good barometer to test how poor onboarding affects engagement with a new role. A lack of welcome events sees fewer people confident in their decision to change jobs up to and including after the first week (71%) and for those without their equipment on their first day, the number drops even more (59%).

With 89% of webinar poll** responders indicating that they intend to recruit over the next 12 months, Shandel McAuliffe at Cezanne HR, advises: “HR professionals need to understand how powerful onboarding is in engaging new starters, and how critical it is to future employee engagement. Delving into the psychology behind onboarding and learning from employer and employee experiences will allow HR to better tailor their approach to onboarding, matching their company needs as well as the changing nature of work due to recent world events.”

Business change psychologist, Nadine Michaelides, comments: “Onboarding is a psychological process, and when onboarding is done badly, it can have far-reaching consequences.” In the report, Nadine alerts us to the need to see a change in employment as a major personal transition that requires sufficient support and compassion, and shares insights on three important aspects of onboarding psychology: the psychology of change, the psychology of first impressions, and the psychological contract.

Dan Lucy, Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, shares onboarding case studies from Plan International, Allianz Ireland and Hymans Robertson LLP in the report. Dan’s advice to employers is: “Get the basics right, like having equipment ready on day one. Make sure your expectations of your new-hire are clear and that you’re in touch with them from when they accept the role. And, don’t forget to make them feel like they belong!”

The report: ‘The Psychology of Onboarding: Optimising the new-starter experience in the digital age’ is available here.

*333 respondents

**267 respondents