How Long Does Onboarding Take? 10 Tips to Maximize Employee Experience

Did you know that a good onboarding process improves employee retention by 82% and boosts productivity by 70%? An effective onboarding program is one of your company’s biggest assets when it comes to training new hires into top team members. However, most companies don’t spend long enough onboarding. In fact, most companies in the US only spend 1-2 weeks on the employee onboarding program, which is a huge mistake. Poor onboarding programs lead to low retention, employee dissatisfaction, and even toxic work environments that bring the existing team down. Here we look at how long onboarding should take, why longer programs are better, and we give you some tips for perfecting your process. Let’s get to it!

A well-structured onboarding process can significantly impact employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. So, how can organizations design and implement an onboarding program that maximizes the employee experience? In this blog post, we’ll explore the question, “How long does onboarding take?”, the ideal onboarding duration, the benefits of extended onboarding, key components of a successful program, adapting onboarding for remote and in-person employees, utilizing technology, measuring success, real-life examples, and tips for creating a comprehensive onboarding timeline. Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Experts recommend a minimum of three months for an ideal onboarding process.
  • Factors influencing onboarding length include complexity of role, level of responsibility, experience and organization size.
  • A successful program should include orientation, training & development, relationship building & support as well as customizing the process to increase employee retention rates.

How Long Should The Onboarding Process Take?

Generally speaking, the onboarding process should take at least 3 months. HR professionals and Hiring Managers generally agree that 3 months is the minimum amount of time it should take to onboard new employees. Research suggests that onboarding should continually happen within the first year of an employee’s new role, helping them to familiarize themselves with the company culture, ask any questions they may have, and just settle into the learning experience properly. 1-2 weeks is not long enough! Employees learn a lot about their new role in the first six months, so if a year sounds too long for you, consider a development and onboarding program that tackle’s the first six months of the new job. After that, most new employees will be settled in enough to fly solo.

employee onboarding process

The Ideal Onboarding Duration: What Experts Recommend

HR experts suggest a minimum of three months for the employee onboarding process to achieve the desired outcomes, such as satisfied and efficient employees who can work autonomously and without consistent oversight. A customized approach for each company and employee, which includes providing an employee handbook, is beneficial.

An inadequate onboarding program can lead to reduced retention rates, employee dissatisfaction, and even detrimental work environments that can negatively influence the current team and hiring managers.

Experimenting with the development and onboarding program and utilizing automation and technology can shorten the onboarding process without compromising quality, achieving the desired outcomes more efficiently.

Factors Influencing Onboarding Length

The duration of an employee onboarding program can be affected by factors such as:

  • Industry
  • Role
  • Level of responsibility
  • Necessary experience

The complexity of the job is directly proportional to the length of a successful onboarding process, meaning more complex jobs may require longer onboarding.

Additionally, larger companies may have more intricate onboarding processes, which can affect how long onboarding takes. Employees with prior involvement in the industry may require less onboarding time than those without, influencing the duration of onboarding and how long does onboarding take.

Customizing Onboarding Processes

Crafting a personalized onboarding experience that mirrors the company’s organizational structure and increases retention rates for employees starting a new job necessitates customization. Steps to customize onboarding processes include:

  1. Assessing your organization’s needs
  2. Defining the onboarding journey
  3. Personalizing the experience
  4. Providing clear expectations
  5. Offering flexibility
  6. Incorporating technology
  7. Seeking feedback

A team introduction video is beneficial during onboarding, as it familiarizes the new individual with other personnel at the organization. Customizing onboarding processes can facilitate the development of a distinct onboarding experience that aligns with the company’s organizational structure, augments retention rates, and furnishes a more captivating and informative onboarding experience for new employees, even when extending onboarding.

Why Does Onboarding Take So Long?

When you’re used to working at a business, it can be easy to forget how alien it all seemed to you when you got a job offer and started at the organization. As well as filling out your new hire paperwork, meeting the team, and speaking to management, you also need to come to terms with the layout of a new environment, suss out the personalities of your fellow employees, and just generally find your place in the company. HR Professionals agree that new employees don’t feel fully “at home” in their new jobs for at least six months or so.

The Advantages Of A Long Employee Onboarding Process

Okay, so hiring managers and HR staff are telling you that your employee onboarding process should be longer. But what are the advantages of stretching out this process over the course of the new hire’s first year?

Higher retention rates & lower employee turnover

As we mentioned, a good onboarding process improves employee retention by 82%, so you’re almost twice as likely to keep your new hire in the company if they are introduced to the company with a thorough onboarding system. If you’ve got a serious turnover problem at your company, a poor/short onboarding program could be what’s causing the problem. No one wants to feel lost and scared in a new job.

You create a better, more productive work environment

A thorough onboarding process stretching through an employee’s first year can boost productivity by 70%, leading to better and more effective work produced more quickly. This also tends to have a knock-on effect with other employees, as the new employee has higher engagement levels and it’s easier to swap ideas when everyone is feeling productive and confident.

You can teach ongoing soft and technical skills

Most job roles require a combination of soft skills and technical skills. Soft skills might include:

  • Creative thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem-solving

However, depending on the company, technical skills could include things like:

  • IT skills
  • Programming skills
  • Data entry
  • Engineering
  • Coding

Effective onboarding processes leave enough time for the new employee to really acquire both sets of skills required for their role – most companies require their staff to have a unique combination of these skills. The longer your onboarding program, the longer the new hires have to develop the set of skills necessary to fulfill their role to its fullest potential, making your organization even stronger.

New employees feel much more comfortable

As new hires become more familiar with different co-workers, managers, systems, and touch points in their role, it’s natural that they’re going to feel happier and more comfortable. As any good manager knows, a happy employee is an efficient employee! Longer onboarding processes help to improve the mood of the workplace as the new hire feels content because they don’t need to “rush” and “learn everything quickly”.

Collaborative learning becomes part of the employee experience

Any HR professional worth their salt will tell you that an employee handbook and new hire paperwork will only go so far. Yes, these things are important, but they cannot replace on-the-job experience and learning tips and tricks from fellow employees in the company. In fact, it’s estimated that employees learn 90% of their skills from other team members rather than from books or formal teaching materials. This is when collaborative culture really takes off. While this can seem frustrating for the HR team that spends time creating HR handbook and designing formal training materials, the reality is that a combination of formal and informal training is what most new hires need. The longer your onboarding program runs for, the easier it is for new employees to experience collaborative learning. collaborative learning during onboarding

The Benefits of an Extended Onboarding Process

Successfully incorporating new-generation talent into the company culture and minimizing the risk of new hires resigning due to inadequate onboarding necessitates an extended onboarding process. Research suggests that extending onboarding for the full first year of employment can lead to:

  • Improved job satisfaction
  • Increased efficiency
  • A greater sense of ease in the workplace
  • An understanding of what to do when concerns arise
  • Adaptation to the business culture
  • The establishment of stronger employee relationships

Prolonging the onboarding process can result in higher employee retention rates, heightened job satisfaction, augmented productivity levels, and enhanced overall performance.

Improved Employee Retention and Satisfaction

Extended onboarding facilitates increased knowledge transfer and relationship building, thus creating a sense of belonging among new employees for the company. Companies like Mailchimp have implemented prolonged onboarding processes, providing employees with a clearer comprehension of the team’s activities and their individual roles, as well as how they can carry out the job proficiently.

Spacing out information during onboarding facilitates the provision of more manageable pieces of information and the establishment of milestones associated with particular objectives. An extended onboarding process can result in increased employee engagement levels.

Enhanced Productivity and Performance

A comprehensive onboarding process has been shown to:

  • Increase productivity by 70%
  • Provide employees with a greater comprehension of their job duties
  • Augment their knowledge and abilities
  • Cultivate a closer relationship with the company culture
  • Diminish turnover
  • Foster communication and teamwork.

Employees can develop their skills and become a greater asset to the organization by taking part in continuing education during the initial year of employment. This opportunity will ensure that they will be equipped with the knowledge they need to excel. Employees can benefit from focused training on both soft and technical skills. This will give them enhanced advancement prospects and provide them with the ability to create a desirable career path with a vision for the future.

Employee Onboarding Best Practices

The onboarding process is different for every organization, and some employees take to the onboarding process better or worse than others. Nonetheless, well-run onboarding programs almost always lead to improved synergy and workflow going forward. Here are some employee onboarding tips that can boost employee engagement and learning in the first year!

Try pre-boarding welcome materials before their first day

Some new companies are now doing “pre-boarding”, a sort of “onboarding light” that takes place before the person actually starts on their first day. The idea is to supply the new employee with materials that give them an insight into the workplace and what they can expect. Materials may include:

  • Books
  • Emails
  • Guides
  • Welcome videos
  • Podcasts

Feel free to get creative and give the new hires an answer to some of the questions they probably have before they start. Make them feel more relaxed about the scenario.

Shoot a quick video introducing the team

A lot of companies now include a short video introducing the team as a stage of the onboarding process. This can help to introduce the new person to other people they’ll be working with at the organization, giving them the comfort of recognizing some people on day one. But it doesn’t have to be Spielberg! Your introduction video doesn’t have to be super professional and well-made. In fact, a low-key YouTube vlog-style video is probably the warmest, most non-intimidating way to introduce the new hire’s fellow employees in a casual, fun way.

Make sure you create a schedule for day one

Make sure your HR team creates a schedule for your employee’s first few days at the new workplace. HR teams recommending strictly scheduling the first few days, as it gives the new employee a sense of structure in a turbulent, overwhelming time. Most onboarding programs don’t structure employee time too much, but definitely do it in the first week or two.

Give them a “buddy” employee

Taking the stage alone can be scary, so consider pairing your new worker up with a fellow “buddy” employee for a few days. This gives them a person they can talk to when they want to ask questions and learn how to do new things. It can also help to facilitate new friendships and bonds – an essential yet overlooked stage of onboarding employees. strengthening employee bond

Facilitate a blended learning process

Most of your staff will learn via a combination of training manuals, online courses, and on-the-job experience. Learning is rarely one-dimensional. Employees need to learn on their terms, as all of us have a unique learning process that can be hard to standardize with onboarding. It’s a good idea to have lots of online, book-based, and on-the-job learning vocations for new people. This blended process allows people to pick and choose the best methods for them.

Hold regular check-ins with managers

Support for management is a key aspect of any successful onboarding process. Regular feedback and 1-on-1 meetings with supervisors can help to boost engagement, satisfaction, and productivity. These meetings give the new person the opportunity to clarify processes, ask questions, give their feedback, and generally get the lay of the land. It also gives the management a chance to give the new person feedback, helping them to improve their performance and tailor it toward the long-term goals of the organization. We hope you enjoyed this guide to how long the onboarding process should take! Onboarding is a complex process that moves at different paces for different people. Your HR department just needs to build in enough time and leeway for people to learn at their own pace and in their own unique way. Good luck in your HR onboarding journey!

Key Components of a Successful Onboarding Program

An effective onboarding program should incorporate several elements, including:

  • Orientation: crucial for new employees to comprehend the company’s culture, values, and expectations, as well as their role and responsibilities.
  • Role-specific training: provides new employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their job effectively.
  • Relationship building and support: helps new employees establish connections with colleagues and receive ongoing support throughout their onboarding process.

Assigning a buddy or mentor to a new worker during onboarding provides a source of support and guidance throughout the process.

Orientation and Company Culture Integration

Introduce new hires to the company’s mission, values, and culture during orientation is essential for ensuring they have a solid understanding of the organization and feel a sense of belonging. Orientation assists new employees in comprehending the company’s culture, values, and expectations, as well as their role and responsibilities, helping them to feel welcomed and supported, diminishing their apprehension, and enhancing their assurance in their new position.

Orientation is an important part of the onboarding process, as it helps new employees learn.

Role-Specific Training and Development

Comprehensive role-specific training and ongoing development opportunities are necessary for new employees to comprehend their roles and responsibilities. This helps each new employee acquire the requisite abilities and understanding to be triumphant in their roles.

On-demand onboarding videos covering topics such as health insurance, PTO, dress code, and employee benefits can be an effective way to provide role-specific training.

Relationship Building and Support

Fostering strong relationships among coworkers and providing support throughout the onboarding process is crucial for creating a positive and nurturing work environment. Building relationships in onboarding is of paramount importance, as it promotes:

  • Trust
  • Engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Teamwork
  • Facilitates the exchange of knowledge and expertise

Providing opportunities for relationship-building during onboarding is essential in achieving a successful onboarding program.

Adapting Onboarding for Remote and In-Person Employees

Given the different challenges and requirements of remote and in-person onboarding, adapting the onboarding process accordingly can ensure a smooth and successful experience.

Unique challenges faced during remote onboarding include:

  • Limited face-to-face interaction
  • Lack of hands-on training
  • Communication barriers
  • Technology issues

In contrast, in-person onboarding may involve more direct interaction and hands-on training opportunities.

Remote Onboarding Challenges and Solutions

Remote onboarding presents unique challenges that need to be addressed to ensure a successful onboarding experience. Employing technology, maintaining transparent communication, and offering virtual assistance are viable solutions to overcome remote onboarding challenges.

By utilizing onboarding software and platforms, as well as digital learning resources such as videos, interactive modules, and virtual training sessions, organizations can enhance the remote onboarding experience.

In-Person Onboarding Best Practices

In-person onboarding experiences can be made more effective by following a set of best practices. These include:

  • Instituting a structured onboarding program
  • Designating a buddy or mentor
  • Furnishing requisite resources
  • Delineating clear expectations
  • Fostering a hospitable and inclusive atmosphere
  • Stimulating relationship-building
  • Proffering ongoing support and feedback
  • Supplying training and development opportunities
  • Commemorating milestones and achievements
  • Ceaselessly refining the onboarding process.

By adhering to these best practices, organizations can create a successful in-person onboarding experience that benefits both new hires and the organization as a whole.

Utilizing Technology in the Onboarding Process

In modern onboarding processes, technology plays a pivotal role by facilitating the process, automating mundane tasks, and providing digital learning resources. Some examples of onboarding software and platforms that can streamline the onboarding process and increase efficiency are:

  • BambooHR
  • Workday
  • SAP SuccessFactors
  • Talentsoft
  • iCIMS

Digital learning resources, such as videos, interactive modules, and virtual training sessions, can support onboarding and help to create a more engaging employee experience.

Onboarding Software and Platforms

Popular onboarding software and platforms, such as:

  • BambooHR
  • Workday
  • SAP SuccessFactors
  • Talentsoft
  • iCIMS

Offer automated onboarding processes, employee self-service portals, document management, and reporting capabilities. These platforms can help organizations streamline their onboarding processes, ensuring that new hires receive the necessary information and resources to succeed in their roles.

When selecting an onboarding software or platform, organizations should consider the features provided, the cost of implementation, usability, and the level of customer service.

Digital Learning Resources

Digital learning resources that can be utilized to facilitate a decrease in onboarding time, enhance employee engagement, and offer a more uniform onboarding experience include:

  • Online training platforms
  • Learning management systems (LMS)
  • Virtual onboarding tools
  • E-learning modules
  • Knowledge bases and wikis
  • Video tutorials and webinars
  • Mobile learning apps

Utilizing digital learning resources can also help to cut down costs related to onboarding, as well as provide a more proficient and effective way to train new employees.

Measuring the Success of Your Onboarding Program

To ensure an onboarding program achieves its intended goals and outcomes, it is necessary to evaluate its effectiveness. This can be accomplished through the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) and employee feedback.

By monitoring these metrics and gathering feedback, organizations can identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to their onboarding processes.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Common KPIs used to measure the success of onboarding programs include:

  • Employee retention rate
  • Time to productivity
  • Employee satisfaction surveys
  • Manager feedback
  • Performance metrics
  • Peer feedback
  • Employee engagement
  • Training completion rates
  • Time to proficiency
  • Feedback from stakeholders

Monitoring these KPIs can help organizations determine the effectiveness of their onboarding programs and identify areas for improvement.

Employee Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Gathering employee feedback during and after the onboarding process is essential to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments. Regularly soliciting feedback from new employees regarding their onboarding experience can help organizations refine and enhance their onboarding processes, ultimately leading to greater employee satisfaction and retention.

Real-Life Examples: Successful Onboarding Programs in Action

Companies such as Airbnb, Zappos, Facebook, Netflix, and Adobe are known for their successful onboarding programs. These organizations employ strategies that focus on:

  • Imparting new hires with a thorough understanding of the company’s culture, values, and mission
  • Providing them with a comprehensive overview of their roles and responsibilities
  • Equipping them with the necessary tools and resources to ensure success

By learning from these real-life examples, organizations can implement successful onboarding strategies that benefit both new hires and the company as a whole.

Tips for Creating a Comprehensive Onboarding Timeline

Development of a well-structured onboarding timeline should take into account factors such as role complexity, company size, and employee background. By formulating precise objectives, structuring the timeline into phases, establishing realistic timelines, incorporating crucial milestones, assigning responsibilities, providing resources and assistance, conveying expectations, and obtaining feedback, organizations can create a comprehensive onboarding timeline that covers all essential aspects of the process and ensures a successful onboarding experience.

Common Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid

Avoidable common onboarding mistakes include:

  • Absence of definite expectations
  • Inadequate training
  • Failure to form connections
  • Data inundation
  • Lack of feedback and support
  • Neglecting the onboarding process
  • Not adhering to corporate values
  • Rushing the procedure
  • Lack of personalization

By being mindful of these potential pitfalls and taking appropriate steps to prevent them, organizations can create a more effective and successful onboarding experience for new hires.


In conclusion, a well-structured onboarding process is crucial for maximizing employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. By customizing onboarding processes, extending onboarding duration when necessary, incorporating key components, adapting onboarding for remote and in-person employees, utilizing technology, measuring success, learning from real-life examples, and avoiding common mistakes, organizations can create a successful onboarding program that not only benefits new hires but also contributes to the overall success of the company. Remember, investing in a comprehensive onboarding process is an investment in your organization’s future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does onboarding mean I’m hired?

Yes, if you start the onboarding process then you are typically hired.

However, it is important to note that some companies may have a probationary period of up to 12 months before the hire is considered complete.

Does onboarding mean first day of work?

Onboarding is the process of welcoming and integrating a new employee into the workplace, starting before the official start date. It includes activities such as preparing for their arrival, giving an insight into the organization’s EVP, and continuing until they’ve fully adjusted to their role and team.

The onboarding process should be tailored to the individual, taking into account their background, experience, and expectations. It should also be designed to ensure that the new employee feels welcomed and supported.

Is onboarding a quick process?

Onboarding is not a fast process, usually lasting several weeks to up to a year. It is a comprehensive process that involves management and other employees, aiming to ensure that the employee feels confident and competent when it is complete.

The process includes a variety of activities, such as introducing the employee to the company culture, providing training and resources, and helping the employee become familiar with the organization’s policies and procedures.

Do you get paid during onboarding?

Yes, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay new hires for activities done during onboarding. This is because such activities are regarded as necessary preparation for becoming full-fledged workers.

However, some activities may be voluntary and not compensated.

What are the 4 phases of onboarding?

Onboarding is typically broken down into four phases: Pre-Onboarding, Welcoming New Hires, Job-specific training and Transitioning to the New Role.

Pre-Onboarding involves preparing the new hire for their role, such as setting up their workspace and providing them with the necessary tools and resources. Welcoming New Hires is about making sure they feel comfortable and welcomed in their new environment. Job-specific.

Tehsin Bhayani

AirMason was born when Tehsin was trying to create a digital culture book, but couldn’t find any solutions in the market that had all the features he needed. In 2016, AirMason officially launched. In five years, AirMason has created thousands of handbooks for more than 1,000 clients around the world.

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