August 2017
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TD Magazine

Onboarding Success

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Editor's Note: Onboarding Success

For years we have been hearing about the importance of onboarding. It's time-consuming and costly, but data show that an organization ends up paying more if onboarding is not done or is poorly done because many employees don't stay long when they are not introduced early to their job expectations and the company culture.

This month's issue examines onboarding in the healthcare industry and the federal government, two very different cultures with high expectations. In the cover story by Patty Gaul, a writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development, Theresa Scepanski says that onboarding "is about ensuring that there is a successful, productive, healthy work experience for employees. To be effective, onboarding has to be engaging and relevant, and the new employee needs to walk away with a real appreciation about what the organization is all about."


A successful onboarding program can reduce costly turnover in the first 24 months because, according to O.C. Tanner, 69 percent of employees with a great onboarding experience are likely to stay with their employer for at least three years. While the first two days on the job are critical to new employees, many organizations start the process when employees accept the job, not when they arrive at work—and that can make all the difference.

In the federal government, many agencies are still only performing new employee orientation (a one- or two-day introduction led by HR). The fast-paced work environment is in need of an onboarding program that involves key players within the agency or department, is strategic in nature, starts before the employee's first day, and maximizes employee engagement and retention.

According to Deadra Welcome's article, onboarding is a journey. A senior learning and development strategist with the Department of Homeland Security, Welcome has created several programs that engage employees in their new department through learning activities and a rotational assignment.


Comprehensive onboarding programs can prepare employees to make a contribution early to their agency or organization, and can help retain valuable employees. Do you have an orientation program or an onboarding program? How is employee retention and company culture in your organization?

Paula Ketter
[email protected]

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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