Use the nudge theory for effective onboarding management

If you're in the field of HR then you're probably familiar with the term "nudge". As in, "Have you nudged your employees to complete their paperwork"?   It has been gaining in popularity for a few years now. But, where did it originate? More importantly, how can we use nudge theory for effective onboarding management? We'll tell you in this 3-minute overview!

What is Nudge Theory?

silent film flirt GIF

Derived from the idea of persuasion, the Nudge Theory was conceived by economist and Nobel Prize winner Richard Tahler. His research looked at economic decision-making and how by nudging a consumer, we can affect and manipulate purchase outcomes.

Just like it sounds, a nudge is like a light push in a positive direction. It increases the chances that an individual will make a particular choice, or behave in a particular way. The theory is that a nudge makes it more likely that an individual will make a particular choice or behave in a certain way if the environment is altered to generate an automatic cognitive process favoring the desired outcome. In other words, in order to coax people to follow through with a particular action, it needs to be easy for them.

Read about the 6 actionable psychology principles to strengthen employee onboarding by clicking here. 

Nudge theory for effective onboarding management

Tahler's research got us thinking. Can nudge theory be used to increase the probability of getting managers to create connection, confidence, and clarification with their new hires before day one? Do you think that the frequency and type of nudges will have an effect on the outcome?  Let's find out!

The outcomes are measured from ‘not likely’ to call to ‘very likely’ to get managers to call new hires.

Not likely to get managers to call
Once a year managers receive a two-page checklist of 20 action items that are mandated to be used for employee onboarding. The manager stores this document somewhere to be found for the next time they are onboarding a new hire. Action item number eight states that managers should call their new hires three days before the start date.

Small chance of getting managers to call
Every time an employee is hired the manager receives an email from HR. The checklist is attached in the email so it is always top of mind when needed. However, 30+ days could elapse between the time that HR sends the email that an employee has been hired and their start date.

More likely to call
The manager receives an SMS text from HR three days before the new hire's first day. The text asks the manager to call the new hire(s) before their first day.

Very likely to call
In the best-case scenario, the manager receives the same SMS text within three days of the new hire's first day. This time the text includes the employee's phone number and the reasons why the manager is calling. The reasons are outlined in five bullet points as a guide for the call. The manager receives a second follow-up message the day before the start date to ask if the tasks have been done.

As you probably guessed, the likelihood of the manager completing the pre-boarding task increases as the frequency and quality of the nudges increase.

Nudging with employee onboarding software

nudge theory for effective onboarding management

Research has found that employees who are pre-boarded feel like part of the company early on and are significantly less likely to lose interest in the job. Nudges during pre-boarding can help remind managers and buddies to connect and welcome the new hire to the team. However, the first days and weeks on the job are equally important.

It's up to the company to manage changing engagement levels and to monitor and check-in with the new hire at regular intervals. Employee onboarding software can be used to nudge not just managers, but all onboarding stakeholders. The employee, buddies, managers, HR, and even the CEO can receive nudges that help create a consistent and powerful employee experience.


Want to learn step-by-step how to choose the best employee onboarding software for your company?

Download the chapter about how to choose the best onboarding software by clicking the link below!

Or, book time to learn more about Preppio's onboarding software:

6 actionable psychology principles to improve employee onboarding

The psychology of persuasion has been applied to sales and marketing for decades to drive revenue and customer loyalty. Why not apply it to the workplace for the benefit of both employer and employee?  The 6 actionable principles below, rooted in science and psychology, can create a better organizational culture and a healthier and more productive workforce when applied during new employee onboarding.

6 actionable psychology principles to strengthen employee onboarding

psychology principles to strengthen employee onboarding

The six principles of persuasion here originated in Dr. Robert B. Cialdini’s book titled ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’. By combining Dr. Cialdini's work with our knowledge about the discipline of onboarding, we have created simple and actionable ways to incorporate these principles into your onboarding process.

1. Reciprocity

 If you give something to someone, it’s highly likely this gesture will be reciprocated. It follows that companies that exceed employee expectations are more likely to have employees that want to do the same. For example, the small cost of cake and balloons on a new hire's first day has the potential to become a worthy investment.

2. Scarcity

If people feel seen, valued, and special they will do more for the company. Mentioning how many people applied for their job is one way of pointing out to employees that they are special and a cut above the rest.

3. Authority

People want to comply with those that have authority. A personal welcome video from the CEO to each new employee is far more impactful than reading the same in a generic e-mail. This video can set the expectations, share the company mission, and explain the culture with far more persuasive power. Learn more about actions that can increase perceived authority before the new hire's first day - click here.

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4. Consistency

People want to follow through with their own commitments. For example, one recent study found that an 18% reduction in missed appointments at health centers could be achieved simply by asking the patients, rather than the staff, to write down future appointment details. Communicating by presenting choices is a strategic way to train employees to apply logical and rational behaviors while empowering them as individuals.

5. Liking

People prefer to say yes to people they like, respect, and admire. Creating a workforce that likes their employer starts with a WOW first impression and welcome. It sets the tone for the rest of the employee life cycle. Liking will come naturally with an excellent onboarding process that is based on the 6 C's framework. Read more here.

6. Consensus/social proof

When people feel uncertain about something they look to others. In the employee onboarding, process companies should use statistics and data or personal stories from the best-in-class parts of the organization to set the standard no matter where in the organization the employees are hired. Sharing positive client stories is another helpful way of showing social proof.

The role of employee onboarding software

All of these same principles that persuade and motivate employees can be set into action with onboarding software.  The right software solution gets everyone engaged in the process, and it also saves time on repetitive tasks with automation.

Click here to read "How automation fuels onboarding best practices and fast tracks business success". Remember these 6 principles are grounded in the psychology of persuasion and it won't be hard to see them at play in the article.

Interested in further reading on the power of persuasion? Read our blog about the ‘Nudge Theory’ here.

Book a 15-minute meeting with our onboarding experts and learn how you can take your employee onboarding to the next level!

Read this before you design your new employee onboarding process

The science behind excellent onboarding

We don't have to tell you how important onboarding is. You wouldn't be here otherwise, right?  But, do you know that there is a scientific framework that increases onboarding effectiveness? Preppio's Chief Scientific Officer, Talya Bauer, Ph.D., developed the 6 C's framework based on years of research. You'll find it in many academic and HR industry publications, but we're distilling it for you here into a quick read. In 3 minutes we'll tell you what the 6 C's are and their impact when you design your new employee onboarding process with them in mind.

Compliance: SAVE TIME

You know the tasks that need to be completed, but getting them done timely and consistently is another story. Paperwork and other compliance-related tasks need to be ready in time to ensure a flying start. More importantly, these action items need to be completed before the new hire's first day during the pre-boarding phase of onboarding. This shortens the time to full productivity by ensuring that new hires have access to the right tools, equipment, and paperwork at the right time.

Preppio helps companies set up a great pre-boarding process to get help save time on practical things. Read this article about pre-boarding to learn more.


Human connection is a deep human need, and the very best companies connect new hires to their manager, mission, and co-workers in the pre-boarding phase. A large airline we work with learned this the hard way. They had 200–300 employees ghost them after signing the job offer. The employee no-show rates were reduced to 50 a year after the airline started personally following up with them in the pre-boarding phase.

Why? Because emotions matter. When you show that you care and employees feel like they belong, it is harder for them to quit. This also applies in the later stages of the employee onboarding process. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 20% of employees that quit do so in the first 45 days (1). In the first days and weeks on the job, the key to a well-thought-out and designed onboarding process is connection.


design your new employee onboarding process

It is important for new hires to quickly learn the culture and "how things are done around here". Connect new hires to your culture by conveying how their role within the company relates to the greater objectives.

Create a story to illustrate how they contribute to the culture.  Your goal is to make the outsider feel like an insider as soon as possible. Culture first onboarding is what makes employees be more engaged - these are your raving fans and really help with your employer branding and recruitment.

Design your new employee onboarding process - Get started with our best practices checklist for new hires


We believe that clarification is the most underrated of the 6 C’s. It is very powerful when done right, and it should start in the recruitment process. If you do not clarify the role and set expectations, the employees do not have clear goals to move towards and you will have a harder time managing them.

Tell them the standard you expect and it will be easy for new hires to fulfill your needs. It is not uncommon for employees to feel like they have been successfully onboarded, but the managers still feel they are not up to speed. High-performing new hires want to know what to do, where to find help, and what is expected of them. Make it easy for them to know how well they are doing and how they can work towards the organizational goals.


Dr. Talya Bauer explains confidence best in this excerpt from her article, "New employee onboarding framework": 

"Confidence refers to how much new employees feel like they can do the job well and tackle new challenges. It is a state of mind. While an organization cannot directly help new employees feel better about themselves, they can design onboarding experiences that help build up employees rather than tearing them down.

When employees feel more confident, they are more likely to feel good about those around them as well as the choice to join your organization. Research conducted by Dan Cable and his colleagues found that onboarding, when done right to focus on the value of the new employee and encouraging them to share themselves at work, can immediately increase performance and retention.”


Have you ever experienced an onboarding process that was clearly outdated? That is, a great onboarding program was developed at one point and then left for years without any follow-up.  Too often we hear from managers who believe they've got a good process, but learn that their employees had a bad onboarding experience.

Without a system of continuous feedback loops, it is hard for you to know how well your employee onboarding program is truly working. Worse, you have no reference for improvement. Onboarding often is the hiring manager's responsibility, but HR is building the onboarding process. Design a system that ensures check backs to ensure that your onboarding is always delivering and that everyone gets a good onboarding experience.

Are you worried your onboarding process might be letting down new hires and onboarding stakeholders? Learn tell-tale signs in our article, Is Your Employee Onboarding Process Failing?

At Preppio we turn HR professionals into onboarding superstars 🤩

Our company is built around one thing: Onboarding.  It's our focus every day, all the time. By staying on top of the latest trends and research we are able to bring you the most important "need to know" onboarding news, tips, and expert advice.

Or, book time with one of our experts to learn more about Preppio's onboarding software

Align your onboarding software and business strategy

The strategy behind onboarding

You know the importance of developing an onboarding plan. Moreover, you know that onboarding software drives that plan. Now it is time to align your onboarding software and business strategy.

The following illustration is a great reminder that a company’s onboarding maturity correlates directly with employee engagement. It is well known that engagement is a driving factor behind low turnover rates and high productivity.

Employee onboarding and engagement

Research shows the direct relationship between the approach a company adopts towards onboarding and the results achieved by employees and the business at large. Therefore, to implement an onboarding plan in itself is a strategy to employee and business success.

Every organization needs to identify and understand the company’s strategic goals over the next one to five years and how this aligns with the people being hired. Following this awareness is the time to develop the company onboarding strategy.

Align your onboarding software and business strategy

Successful companies are usually comprise of people who are aligned with, and passionate about the business’ vision. How you get there has everything to do with your people. It is a strategic decision to have the right employee onboarding software in place. It facilitates your organization's success through your people, strengthens employer branding, and conveys company culture.

Onboarding employees is much harder today, as you would know first-hand. The recent changes in how we work and interact have impacted organizations across the globe. Research shows that the onboarding experience is at an all-time low due to social distancing and working from home.

Align onboarding software and business strategy

How do we manage the new normal? Research by Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible (at least partially) with remote work, while “25-30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”

With many employees working from home, being onboarded remotely, and being reboarded post-Covid-19, we need more standardized onboarding processes that take each new employee through one, consistent and engaging onboarding experience to motivate each new employee, and to ensure that each individual is seen and properly followed up on, by others. This way we can build productive employees who instantly feel they are part of the organization.

Onboarding plans are stronger with automation

Automation with employee onboarding software

Automation is just one way that aligns employee onboarding software, business strategy,  and your onboarding plan. For example, Preppio customers begin communicating with new hires from the date the job offer is accepted using automated timelines and messaging. This connection during the pre-boarding phase helps retain hard earned new hires.  Further, they will show up enthusiastic about the job and feeling like a valued member of the team.

Experience how Preppio customers communicatate with employee before (You will receive one SMS) day one by filling the form:

Onboarding software supports a strong onboarding plan starting with the pre-boarding phase. This leads to reduced turnover and increased efficiency which is an important component of business strategy.  Furthermore, company culture thrives when business strategy, employee onboarding software, and onboarding plans are aligned.

There are many more ways that employee onboarding software can align your onboarding plan and business strategy.  Contact us for a free consultation with us today and our onboarding experts can help.

Customer Testimonial

"It was incredibly easy to get started with Preppio for employee onboarding. It took 48 hours from starting the onboarding project until we had a virtual onboarding process in place."

Leif Fleysvik, Head of Communication and Training, Lyse AS

How automation fuels onboarding best practices and fast tracks business success

Building a premium new hire experience requires the right onboarding software.

You know the importance of a strategic onboarding plan. But, do you know how automation fuels onboarding best practices? The right software solution gets everyone engaged in the process, and it also saves time on repetitive tasks with automation. Your business will see game-changing improvements when strategic onboarding planning is executed with the right software solution.

Read on to learn 9 onboarding best practices, based on the 6 C's framework. They are even more effective when implemented with onboarding software. Best onboarding practices create a memorable employee onboarding experience for your new hires. Following best practices is higher employee and retention and engagement. On the other hand, onboarding software enables businesses to complete those best practices quicker, easier, and more effectively. Meanwhile, HR professionals and managers will focus their time on leadership as opposed to the tedious details. 1

Nine ways automation fuels onboarding best practices

Download the Onboarding Best Practices – Tech Check List


Best Practice 1: Implement the basics prior to the first day on the job to leverage Compliance.

  • You have a golden opportunity to start building connections with new hires before their first day.
  • Align new hires with buddies and other newcomers.
  • Introduce the company and send out pre-hire paperwork.

Best Practice 2: Make the first day on the job special to leverage Connection.

  • Research shows that the first day on the job is critical. Help new employees feel valued and special. It follows that they will be relieved and happy that they made the right choice to join your organization. So, have a plan and do not leave it to chance!
  • Employee turnover will increase over time if you treat new hires like another number. On the contrary, send a pre-boarding survey and ask about their favorite lunch. Moreover, use technology to automatically remind managers to order their new hires' favorite lunch.
  • We all remember our first day. How hard is it to get a laptop organized and an email set up? “I have a temporary desk for three months!” Really? In contrast, imagine connecting with a new friend on day one followed by receiving a hard-bound notebook and a welcome gift. Onboarding technology utilizes automation to make this happen effortlessly.

Automation fuels onboarding best practices

Best Practice 3: Formalize your orientation program to leverage all 6 C's of onboarding.

  • The more consistent you are with your onboarding process, the more effective you will be and like any other important business process, you should have a system of checks and balances to ensure that things are done.
  • Use an onboarding software solution that focuses on managers and buddies to help communicate information to employees.
  • The right technology partner can seamlessly facilitate onboarding communications. For example, it can send welcome messages, remind managers to assign mentors and buddies to new employees, and make introductions. Preppio´s customers set up an onboarding chatbot that would do all of the intros in Microsoft Teams, Slack or Workplace from Facebook.

Try Preppio's onboarding solution on your phone now:

Best Practice 4: Develop a written onboarding plan to leverage Clarity and Connection.

  • Determine your onboarding plan and then formalize it. An onboarding software program can help you leverage the best practices.
  • Beginning with your team, share the onboarding plan and best practices. Use illustrations and give best practices to hiring managers who will be onboarding new employees. Meanwhile, share stories where applicable to nudge and coach managers.
  • Earn buy-in from the organization that "this is how we onboard"! Communicate it to the organization to create an onboarding culture!

Best Practice 5: Participation in onboarding is a powerful way to encourage communication.

  • Go beyond the checklist for compliance. Make onboarding participatory and experience-driven to leverage Clarity and Connection.
  • Many organizations miss the opportunity to learn from new hires despite its importance. Use technology to ask what works for them and what could use improvement. Next, create a feedback learning loop.

Best Practice 6: Ensure that the program is monitored to ensure that all 6 of the onboarding Cs are covered.

  • Use technology to monitor programs over time.
  • Are new employees using the system and accessing information?
  • Did they get assigned buddies?
  • Are team members welcoming them to the organization using the system?
  • Onboarding dashboards can be a great tool for keeping up with utilization.

employee onboarding software drives success

Best Practice 7: Use milestones to check in on employee progress to leverage all 6 of the onboarding Cs.

  • Research shows that key milestones are important for new employees. For that reason, use technology to set up check-ins at key points to keep your program on track. For instance, schedule check points at 30, 60, 90, and 120 days on the job. Finally, schedule a meeting to check in following one year of employment.
  • Resolve little issues before they become big problems that can lead to quality employees leaving.
  • Treat new employees like team members. They are eager to be seen as “regular” employees as opposed to new ones.

Best Practice 8: Engage stakeholders in planning to leverage Connection.

  • Everyone is busy, but technology makes engaging with managers less tedious.  That is, it can be done for individual employees and then scaled as needed.
  • Assign meetings to new employees with specific time guidelines to meet with key personnel. Next, use technology to facilitate and track completion of these meetings over time. For example, an automated message reminds a new hire, "Meet with Barbara in Finance within your first 30 days".

Best Practice 9: Be crystal clear with new employees in terms of objectives, timelines, roles, and responsibilities to leverage Clarity.

flying klm royal dutch airlines GIF

  • Provide information, forms, activities, to-do lists, maps, and photos of team members.
  • Onboarding software provides a personalized onboarding access portal. Employees can store and access all of this information conveniently and efficiently.

Automation fuels onboarding best practices and fast tracks business success

The importance of onboarding cannot be overestimated. It is the process of initiating new hires into your company culture and sets the stage for employee success and retention. Whether you are questioning the effectiveness of your onboarding solution or would like to learn more, we are here to help. First, download onboarding best practices tech checklist to determine how well your onboarding software solution is performing.

Is it driving employee engagement or is it a source of frustration? Does it free up your managers to connect one-on-one with employees in a meaningful way? Click below to download our onboarding software worksheet specifically designed for HR professionals who want to take their onboarding process to the next level.

Download the Onboarding Best Practices – Tech Check List


How to choose the best employee onboarding software?

The best onboarding software you can choose create an employee-centric experience.

We created Preppio because today's HRIS solutions are not created to improve the employee experience during onboarding, and HR spends too much of their time on manual and repetitive tasks.

Your new employee onboarding software should not just be a business-centric tool to ensure that the onboarding checklist was marked off for the sake of compliance. The best employee onboarding software goal is to maximize onboarding success for the employee and improve the employee experience in the moments that matter.

Especially in the critical time before onboarding (pre-boarding) and in the early days on the job. It should nudge managers and buddies, and give HR insight into the employee journey!

Download our complete guide here:

Guide to choose the best onboarding software 

Evaluate your current employee onboarding software with these 10 questions

As an HR professional, ask yourself the following 10 questions in relation to your current employee onboarding platform:

  1. Is it focused on the needs of new hires and supporting managers, or just compliance and paperwork during onboarding?
  2. Does it automate mundane and time-consuming tasks such as sending information and motivating people to do tasks?
  3. Are you mixing learning software (LMS) or your HRIS with onboarding software? Onboarding software orchestrates all parts of onboarding like tasks, information, and tools needed to get started.
  4. Is it easy to use for HR, managers, buddies, or new hires so they actually do the things you want them to, and at the right time?
  5. Does it offer an employee onboarding experience layer that helps with engagement and consistency?
  6. Is there a focus on the role of managers and buddies as an important part of onboarding?
  7. Is it focused on each department/location as well as inter-departmental work relationships?
  8. Does the current system measure onboarding success and provide insights for improvements to your onboarding process?
  9. Do your employees feel overwhelmed?  Another app is not what people want and need!
  10. Does the onboarding software take care of pre-boarding and the 6C’s framework?

Onboarding software enhances your strategic onboarding plan

An important point is that onboarding tools are only as good as the content and the process. Most onboarding software vendors are not able to help with implementing a science-based onboarding program for you.

Even with the many useful features of today’s contemporary onboarding software, they tend to come with design faults as they are not laser-focused on the entire employee onboarding experience.

employee onboarding software

Pre-boarding and early employee engagement

If the onboarding process starts in the pre-boarding phase, employees feel like part of the company early, reducing the likelihood of them losing interest in the role and the business.

Following pre-boarding, it is up to the company to manage changing engagement levels and to monitor and check-in with the new hire along the way. At all times it’s crucial that new hires are central to the onboarding process. Their experience must be a finely tuned balancing act that works for both sides. This reinforces the importance of designing the experience to accommodate the 6 C’s of onboarding.

Identifying issues with your current onboarding is a challenge if you’ve got nothing to compare it to. The above diagram, however, might give you an idea of where things are going wrong in your organization. An excellent strategic onboarding plan is planned with engagement and onboarding in mind.

Want to learn step-by-step how to choose the best employee onboarding software for your company?

Download the chapter about how to choose the best onboarding software by clicking the link below!

Guide to choose the best onboarding software 

Or book time to learn more about Preppio's onboarding software: