What Is the Ideal Duration of the Employee Onboarding Period?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

What Is the Ideal Duration of the Employee Onboarding Period?

Implementing an effective pre-boarding and employee onboarding process is crucial for any business, and there are plenty of statistics to prove it:

  • Having a structured onboarding process can boost employee retention by 82% [1]
  • Onboarding programs can increase employee performance by 11% [2]
  • Companies with a standard and structured onboarding program experience 50% greater new employee productivity [3]
  • Remote pre-boarding new employees make companies 1.6x more likely to have a lower cost per hire [4]
  • 54% of companies with an onboarding program experience higher employee engagement [5]

However, if you've started developing your employee onboarding program, there are probably a few questions that have popped up in your mind, one of them being:


“How long should my employee onboarding period last?”

This is a valid question, and although the answer might vary from case to case, our opinion is that it should go from the moment your new employees sign their offer letter and new hire paperwork until six months after they begin in their new job.

There are even some aspects of engagement that should be practiced in the long-run, until the employee's last day at work.

Keep reading to learn all about the three essential stages of an onboarding timeline!


Pre-Boarding: from the Day an Offer Letter Is Signed

Contrary to popular belief, your onboarding process shouldn't start on an employee's first day of work. It should actually start before that.

Once your new hire has signed their offer letter, you know that both you and them are committed to this new employee/employer relationship. That is your cue to begin the first stage of the employee onboarding process, which is actually called pre-boarding.

The duration of the pre-boarding process can vary since it depends on when the new hires sign the letter. This can be anywhere from a one-month to a three-month notice period, but it's important to mention that the longer this period lasts, the easier it is to lose momentum and the interest of your new employees.

You never want to rush (it's one of the golden rules of an effective onboarding process), but you also don't want to drag this initial stage for too long. It's all about finding the perfect balance.


Pre-Boarding Checklist

There are a few things that all hiring managers and HR professionals should remember to ensure a successful onboarding program.

Send a welcome email to your new hire, including all the relevant information about their first day (time, location, dress code, schedule, and more)

Introduce your new employee to the company's culture, including mission, values, and vision (this becomes a lot easier if you have a comprehensive and engaging employee handbook)

Inform your current employees about their new team member, via email or team meeting

Prepare your new employee's workstation, ensuring they have all the hardware and software they'll need

Completing these four steps would go a long way in making new employees feel part of the entire team. It would also show that your company is ready to provide support for its employees to thrive in the work environment.

Onboarding New Employees: For Six Months, Starting on the First Day

Once your new employee actually starts working, you can begin the second stage of the process: the actual onboarding.

The way this process looks for your company will depend heavily on the type of employment you offer: traditional or remote. You might even have to develop two versions of your onboarding programs, such as an in-person onboarding process and a remote onboarding process if you have a hybrid team.

Either way, your primary goal here is to make sure that your new hire is successfully integrated and oriented from the get-go, and that's something you cannot do in one week (many companies try, only to leave their employees discouraged and confused - a big no-no).

On the contrary, in order to guarantee maximum efficiency of your onboarding process, it is best to maintain it for six months from day one at the (physical or virtual) place of work.


Onboarding Checklist: First Day

Greet your new employee and have a morning coffee with them

Introduce your employee to their co-workers or other team members and show them around the office  

Lead them to their workstation and, if necessary, help them set up any equipment

Handle all the paperwork, explaining everything they entail (from policies to compensation, benefits, and more), as well as making sure both parties are on the same page about all details and that all documents are properly signed

Have an introductory meeting with the new employee and their manager

Onboarding Checklist: First Week

Check in with the new employee on a regular basis

Organise any necessary training sessions and send them the dates

Send them any useful resources about their role of the company in general

Schedule a team lunch or after-work hangout


Onboarding Checklist: First, Third, and Sixth Month

Schedule feedback meetings, where you can go over the employee's progress compared to the established goals, as well as understand how their experience is going

Send out onboarding surveys, so you can continuously improve it for future hires

Enquiry the new employee about training sessions they feel are necessary and, if they make sense, organise them


Continuous Engagement: Until the Employee's Last Day

The process of onboarding employees should end after their initial six months, but there are engagement components you should maintain in order to make sure both parties continue satisfied with the employee/employer relationship, including regular feedback.

Checking in regularly, even with employees that have been working with you for years, is a best practice that can lead you in the right direction for higher employee satisfaction and retention. Just think about it: you don't want to keep your new hires happy for six months and then completely change the way you treat them once that period is over, right?

Additionally, companies that integrate collaborative learning into their extended onboarding process ensures a more immersive learning experience for employees. This could help them get a better understanding of the company and their job responsibilities, as well as form a deeper bond with other people in their work environment.  

Continuous Engagement Checklist

Schedule one-on-one performance evaluations with the employee, at least once a year

Send out satisfaction surveys and use the results to improve your company's processes

Advantages of Extending Onboarding Time

Okay, so now you know how to extend your employee onboarding process. But you may be wondering what are the advantages of doing so.

Better Employee Retention Rates

As we mentioned above, a good onboarding process improves employee retention by more than 80%. This means you are more likely to keep new hires in your company and see significantly lower employee turnover rates.

Create a More Productive Company Culture

A thorough onboarding process can boost productivity by 70% during an employee's first year. This means they are more likely to complete a task quicker.

One surefire way to increase productivity rates is by foregoing transactional onboarding and instead choosing relational onboarding.

Relational onboarding may be more time-consuming than traditional onboarding processes. However, it is highly effective in building trust with your employees by giving them the support they need in their chosen career path.

Long Onboarding Helps Employees Learn New Skills

An effective employee onboarding process helps employees acquire soft and technical skills they may need for their role. The longer your onboarding programs are, the more time new hires have to develop the skills they need to fulfill their roles to its full potential.

In conclusion, an effective pre-boarding and onboarding process will help you ensure that your employees are happy, confident, and productive from day one, no matter if they're working in-house or remotely. So, the question is, have you developed a strong onboarding process from beginning to end?


Whether your answer to the previous question was ‘yes' or ‘no' - our tool offers advanced features we know your company can benefit from.

Give Qualee a try by joining our Starter Plan today!

You might be interested in the following resources:
Calculate onboarding ROI using our Onboarding Cost Calculator
Learn about our Employee Engagement Platform
Trial our Employee Onboarding App
Our Recommended Exit Interview Questions for an Effective Offboarding Experience

[1] https://b2b-assets.glassdoor.com/the-true-cost-of-a-bad-hire.pdf

[2] https://www.shrm.org/foundation/ourwork/initiatives/resources-from-past-initiatives/Documents/Onboarding%20New%20Employees.pdf

[3] http://www.urbanbound.com/blog/onboarding-infographic-statistics

[4] https://www.talentlms.com/blog/onboarding-statistics-trends/

[5] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/dont-underestimate-the-importance-of-effective-onboarding.aspx

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