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:

A 4-step guide for designing your employee onboarding process

Here is a 4-step guide for designing your employee onboarding process:

STEP 1: Set your goals before designing your employee onboarding process

Here are some examples of short-term tactical goals:

  • Get the basics right before day one (paperwork, laptop ready, email, etc)
  • Save time on repetitive tasks for HR
  • Reduce the number of failed hires
  • Reduce unwanted turnover
  • Reduce time-to-productivity for new hires

Here are some examples of long-term strategic goals:

  • Improve employer branding and become a more attractive place to work
  • Create a sense of community across the organization
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Develop cohesion: one company, one culture

These points above can also be used to calculate a business case so you can invest time and resources into tools to designing your employee onboarding process, and also get the whole organization to follow it consistently.

Get free cost of new hire onboarding spreadsheet

Do you want to know the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?

  • The average cost of onboarding a new hire is 30% to 70% of their annual salary
  • Recruiting and training are major costs, but time to productivity has the highest overall cost
  • Companies can save up thousands of dollars per new hire hired by maximizing the onboarding success

STEP 2: Conduct interviews using guided questions.

This step is often missed. Interviews, especially for outgoing employees, have tended to be considered time wasters. We recommend conducting onboarding interviews with employees and managers and then use this information to understand what can be improved. Likewise, data from exit interviews with employees who do not stay in the company beyond 120 days can be extremely helpful to understand what went wrong and how you can make improvements.

Read the blog post about the 6C’s framework to get ideas on what questions you should ask in the interviews or check out step 3.

STEP 3: Use our top 10 insights to build a list of questions relevant to your organization for both onboarding and exit interviews.

1. There is no consistency in our onboarding process. Things don’t get done or don’t get done the right way. Depending on the manager, time of year, department, or location, people receive different onboarding experiences. Some learn about the culture, connect with others, and are briefed by managers on expectations. Others are given the basic training and you just hope for the best.

2. Managers do not have the time, or the skills needed to give their hires a good onboarding experience. Some managers treat their employees as their own children while others have a sink or swim mindset.

3. You do not measure onboarding success. This is a common problem, and most companies have no clue why some employees succeed, and others fail. Companies tend to blame the new employee, saying it was a wrong hire, but if the company does not have insights as to why the person failed, it is not possible to really diagnose. Surveys of new hires, either quantitative or qualitative, are advised before any assumptions are made.

4. HR does not have time to follow up on each new employee over prolonged periods of time, and managers are busy. There’s a good chance that employees feel lost in your organization. This is a real problem for larger companies that hire hundreds of employees.

5. You do not make people feel special, seen, or valued. When hiring a lot of people companies lose the personal touch that smaller companies have and give their new hires. Lack of time and no one being in charge of looking after each new hire, something a buddy/mentor can facilitate, is a concerning issue raised by many people we speak to.

6. The recruiters oversell the positions. This is a common problem that happens when recruiters themselves are being measured on acquiring the best talent, and during the process, they over-sell the positive features of the job and leave out the downsides. If employees do not feel that their expectations meet reality, they’re likely to quickly lose interest when surveyed. 61% of new hires do not think their new job lives up to their expectations and feel cheated.2

7. Information overload as well as not having the information you need. A paradox perhaps, but not unexpected if you think about the full email inboxes and massive amounts of communication that we all receive and experience in the first days of a job. New hires need to receive, read, and understand large volumes of information but you need to make sure not to swamp them.

8. It is daunting to start in larger organizations. It is not uncommon that employees do not know where to go to find help, and many shy away from asking even the simplest of questions such as when will they get paid. More sensitive questions are often kept unasked to avoid judgment, such as “can I date a coworker?”, “what happens if I come late to work?”, “what is the policy on working from home?”

9. Things just slip through the cracks. Equipment and software are often not organized for the first day at work and there are many cases where management has forgotten that a new hire is starting on a particular day. Other similar examples are forgetting to do tasks and training in time or forgetting to enroll people in events and courses.

10. Time spent on simple, repetitive, and mundane tasks. Some companies are still running their business as they did 20 years ago or using outdated clunky software to do onboarding.

STEP 4: Book time with an expert to discuss the best practices

If you can relate to any of the above, you’re on the right path to designing your employee onboarding process.
If you want to set up a 15-minute call with the onboarding experts here at Preppio, we are happy to give you some tailored advice to help you get started for free:

Employee preboarding: The missed opportunity

Employee preboarding: The missed opportunity

I spoke to a CHRO recently and she told me about their employee preboarding process in these terms: “We don’t want to get the fish on land just to leave it there for dead. That is how I feel about our employee preboarding process like it is today”.

Overoptimizing the hiring process and underoptimizing the preboarding process? 

Recruiters often sell the job to the candidates and they feel highly valued and engaged after they have signed the contract, only to feel like a commodity after contracts are signed because there was a lack of communication and follow-up.

This over-optimization is also shown in another statistic you can check in your own company; how many talent acquisition/recruiters work for every employee experience and people operations at your company? Just like it does not make sense to only have salespeople and without a customer team, it does not make sense to just get people in without ensuring that they are set up for success. In sales language, it leads to customer churn, in people operation/human capital terms it leads to employee turnover.

If employees do not feel that their expectations meet reality, they are likely to lose interest quickly. When surveyed, 61% of new hires state that they do not think their new job lives up to their expectations and feel cheated.  3

When your company has invested so much in hiring a new employee, it only makes sense to not leave them feeling like dead fish after contracts are signed.

However, it’s strange that so few companies stand out from the crowd and invest more in the employee preboarding experience.

Take the employee perspective

In the period leading up to the first day, it’s natural for employees to be a little anxious and nervous, perhaps even a little doubtful. Same as the first day of school. Everyone wants to feel like they’re joining a workplace that supports them and a company that looks forward to supporting them.

As part of these pre-first day jitters, employees create their own set of expectations for the new role. They might search online to learn about the company’s staff and perhaps even make contact with future colleagues. The days and weeks leading up to the first day is powerful. It’s a time when we forge ideas about how the new job will be and try to keep our nerves under control as we wonder how we’ll perform and fit in.

Scared Kumail Nanjiani GIF by Team Coco

Will they meet people that might become their friends? What will the career opportunities be like? What we don’t know are the untold stories about bad past work experiences, such as a difficult or ineffective manager or a dysfunctional culture that, troublingly, could also play out as a source of mild or more severe trauma.

But what if there is not a good preboarding experience before day one? It follows that any negative feelings might be dialed right up, leaving the positive ones lagging behind. This begs the question – why not control this and give employees what they crave?

Reduce no show rates with personalized automation

One of our clients in the airline industry struggled with employees signing a contract but never showing up for day one. They reduced the number of employee no-shows by 75% with the following change in the process; After conducting surveys, the airline business in question realized that while they had a highly sophisticated system of automating communication, tasks, and training to the new hires, they’d forgotten about the employee experience. Their process did not drive engagement and connection in the preboarding stage as it was too focused on the tasks.

In response, they changed the onboarding process slightly by automating two messages instructing HR or hiring managers to call the new hire to congratulate them on their new job and ask if they had any questions. This new practice created a sense of belonging to the company and made it real that there is actually a human being, perhaps even a team, waiting for the new hire’s arrival. This is a great example of automation in the Preppio solution to humanize the onboarding experience.

Other clients we work with have reduced no-show rates by asking new hires to add teammates on LinkedIn, listen to a podcast about the culture in the company (A CEO podcast episode is a good idea), or get a call from a buddy.

Test Preppio’s preboarding software on your phone:

It takes a village 

The whole company needs to adopt an onboarding mindset and preboarding is a critical component. The company should not let the excitement and enthusiasm and energy of all new hires go to waste. Creating perceptions and building actions to demonstrate that the company genuinely cares about a new hire starting requires some effort from the business’ internal stakeholders. This is not a mindset that pats managers on the back for checking off boxes. Rather, it’s a mindset that facilitates employee success by using tools to make it easy for all stakeholders to be onboarding champions.

The organization’s focus on its success, story, plans, and mission are great things to communicate, but even better is creating an onboarding experience that allows the new hire to be the hero of the story. In other words, the importance of ‘You’ in order for ‘Us’ to reach our mission!

The fact that “You were carefully selected from the vast numbers of people applying for the job, because of the fact that we believe you can help us” – is exactly how to speak to people that join. The first days should be about giving new hires confidence, connection, clarification, culture – not information overload.

In a research paper by Talya Bauer, our very own Chief Scientific Officer, competitive advantage was seen to strengthen in those organizations that capitalize on their talents. Talya found in one study that organizations judged to be the best onboarders have a retention rate of as high as 91 percent after the first year of employment compared to just 30 percent for the organizations assessed as the worst onboarders. Similarly, new hires who had good onboarding experiences achieved results of 71 percent for hires in the first year compared to only 17 percent for the poorest onboarders. 4


Aberdeen Group survey 2013

Preboarding checklists VS preboarding software?


Busy managers often forget to do the tasks on the checklist or things fall between the cracks. If managers and people operation teams do not have a system of checks and balances in place to ensure that critical things like ordering the equipment or setting up the desk are done in time, it will lead to bad results. It would be strange to not give the customer success department a CRM tool to ensure customers get a good onboarding experience, the same should apply for employee pre- and onboarding!


Do you have an onboarding system in place that makes sure your new hires feel cared for and set up for success when they arrive on day one? If you still are a bad HRIS onboarding module, spreadsheets, e-mails, or have a checklist that you hope people follow, you should consider using Preppio’s research-backed onboarding software. It is like a CRM for your people operation teams that go beyond the checklist and create a personalized WOW experience for new hires while making the job of being a hiring manager easier!

Test Preppio’s preboarding software on your phone:

The business case for onboarding

Globally, onboarding has evolved into a mature HR practice. Successful strategic onboarding is especially important given the increasing pace of change and mobility. Research has shown, time and time again, that onboarding has the power to influence whether new employees decide to stick with or leave an organization. So, what is the business case for onboarding and why does it matter?

80% of new employees decide whether or not to stay with their new organization within the first few months, yet most organizations are aware they don’t execute onboarding well.

In fact, when Gallup5 asked employees about onboarding, 88% indicated that they didn’t think their organization was good at onboarding. And those in charge agree with 76% of HR leaders reporting that they believe they are ineffectively onboarding their new employees.

The three top reasons managers gave for neglecting onboarding are:

  • 57% noted not having enough time
  • 55% noted the absence of tools to measure its effectiveness, and
  • 39% reported the lack of digital onboarding technology to automate the process was challenging

There’s a strong correlation between the approach a company adopts to its onboarding and the results achieved by employees and businesses. We acknowledge that the more maturity a company has around onboarding, the greater chance of it investing in sound strategic onboarding practices.

What is the business case of engagement onboarding? 

Acknowledging the role that ‘engagement’ plays is also a key stepping-stone to understanding the business case of onboarding. It’s a popular buzzword in the world of brand marketing and is a word commonly used to benchmark our relationship to the world around us. So too, its significance should not be underestimated in the context of the workplace. Consider the following:

1) The importance of engagement in relation to providing employees with a sense of purpose and
2) Why purpose is critical to driving healthy engagement levels.

Let’s put it another way. To be truly productive in our work, we have to be engaged. To be engaged we have to have a purpose. The challenge for both is resources. Without appropriate resources managers are forced to be task-focused rather than purpose-driven which essentially sabotages engagement. Once disengaged, productivity suffers. It’s a vicious cycle.

As the below diagram shows - culture, connection, clarification, and the WOW factor are major contributors to employee engagement levels.

Business case of onboarding

People generally have no problem doing mundane and repetitive tasks as long as it leads to other intrinsic rewards. These rewards could include connecting with customers and colleagues, making the world a better place, feelings of accomplishment, seeing their part in something bigger, or perhaps even career advancement in the long run.

Whatever the reward, a good onboarding process recognizes these factors and helps employees understand why they are doing, what they are doing.

Give your people the CEO treatment

As part of our research, we spoke to a CEO of a large airline who noted that the best investment he made in the early days of joining the organization was getting to know the business.

It’s a normal and valid concern to be worried about a leadership change, this is why listening to people and creating reports is key for new CEOs and leaders to be able to make the changes they want. The higher you are in an organization the more time and effort is required for that individual to get to know the business and its people.

The question is - shouldn’t the same apply to the rest of us? Under the middle tier of management down to the ranks of junior employees, and especially frontline customer-facing employees, we consistently see examples of onboarding executed at its worst.

So have a think about this. What would happen to the frontline worker if they received the CEO treatment during onboarding? Do you think this would increase the chances of them staying with your company for longer? With a dose of CEO treatment, would a frontline worker be more likely to become a manager and a highly engaged fan of the business?

We know it is impossible to give new hires the CEO treatment. This analogy is simply used to drive your understanding of the CEO treatment idea. Exceeding new hire expectations and ensuring that employees feel valued should be factored into the design of your onboarding program. By doing so, employees’ success rates will be maximized. By continuously asking how these success rates relate to business success you will build the business case to introduce strategic onboarding.

Onboarding is good for your brand

A brand is a promise. Part of this promise is the delivery of service and quality standards that meet or exceed customer expectations. This in turn is carefully managed over time to build customer loyalty and positive brand perceptions. All great brands strive to exceed customer expectations. So, what happens when a new hire who has had bad onboarding, is customer-facing?

Redhead Karen GIF by moodman

Due to the link between the customer experience and employee experience, great onboarding is the solution. Our goal is for organizations to adopt an “exceeding expectation” mindset for their brands by integrating this way of thinking early on in their onboarding program.

It’s also worth noting that the lifetime value of each hire goes beyond the duration of that individual’s employment with you. Consider the thousands of employees that come and go after only a short time. It’s likely that they will tell their friends and family about your business, and that conversations about your organization and your brand will be both positive and negative. Optimizing these experiences so that each new hire talks positively about your company no matter how long they stay, is key to creating good employer branding.

When it comes to front-line onboarding, one of the best-in-class companies is Pal’s Sudden Service. CEO Thomas Crosby once said:

"We realized that we are in the education business, just like any school or university."  

This mindset has led to designing and implementing an onboarding process that results in highly engaged employees who stay. At the Assistant Manager level, turnover is 1.4%. At the top end, Pal has lost just seven general managers in 33 years. Meanwhile on the front lines, turnover is lower than the average rate in the industry sitting at 32%. 6

It is easier to convince the organization to invest more in the people you are hiring!


Get free cost of new hire onboarding spreadsheet

Do you want to know the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?

  • The average cost of onboarding a new hire is 30% to 70% of their annual salary
  • Recruiting and training are major costs, but time to productivity has the highest overall cost
  • Companies can save up thousands of dollars per new hire hired by maximizing the onboarding success


Cost of onboarding a new hire (Free Spreadsheet)

What is the cost of onboarding a new hire? 

Is your cost of onboarding a new hire more than it should?

Put simply, ‘bad onboarding’ is an unstructured and haphazard onboarding process that fails to engage early, nurture continuously or monitor growth during the job lifecycle. The consequences of this for both the new hire and the employer, are far-reaching.

The onboarding experts here at Preppio frequently refer to ‘experience and science-based’ onboarding. Our software and methodology focus on the employee experience during the pre and onboarding phases. Preppio’s onboarding software honors people as the true currency of success for companies and organizations. It does this by interlocking mandatory business protocol and corporate needs with a heightened understanding of professional support and growth.

The process is built on the psychology of potential and best practices created by leading scientists. The newly updated 6 C’s employee onboarding framework devised by Preppio’s Chief Scientific Advisor Talya Bauer Ph.D., forms the pillars of the Preppio onboarding experience - Compliance, Clarification, Confidence, Connection, and Culture moving into Check-back.


Get free cost of new hire onboarding spreadsheet

Do you want to know the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?

  • The average cost of onboarding a new hire is 30% to 70% of their annual salary
  • Recruiting and training are major costs, but time to productivity has the highest overall cost
  • Companies can save up thousands of dollars per new hire hired by maximizing the onboarding success


The direct and short-term costs of onboarding a new hire:

#1 Direct And Short-Term Cost: New hire Turnover and Retention

Employers have good reason to be nervous given the statistics show that 11% of new hires change their minds about an offer after they’ve signed a contract. 60% of these do so because they receive a better offer afterward.7

Additionally, there’s a large body of statistics relevant to employees’ early weeks and months in a job. These vary depending on the job in question. However, what is overwhelmingly common is the high rate of employee departure that hits as early as 45 days all the way through to 18 months.

  • 28% of new hires quit before reaching 90 days on the job8
  • 22% of new hires that quit do so in the first 45 days 9
  • 50% of hourly workers quit within the first 120 days10
  • 50% of senior outside hires recruited to a new position fail within 18 months 11

#2 Direct and Short-Term Cost: New hire Time to Productivity 

Organizations recoup the highest onboarding return on investment in the area of time to productivity. This is the time it takes an new hire to deliver actual value to the organization. We have all heard about the disastrous first day where managers forget to order the IT and tools needed, or forgetting to book employees for training. How much time is wasted in the first days of not getting employees to a flying start in your organization?

#3 Direct and Short-Term Cost: Failed Hiring or Derailed New employees?

The industry frequently uses the term ‘bad hire’ or ‘failed hire’. It’s one that has connotations of blame that squarely sits with the new hire. At Preppio we avoid using this term as we believe there’s more to an employee not working out than meets the eye. Some new hires will never succeed as a result of a bad or unlucky recruiting process, but most have the potential to become star employees. Failure in recruiting is more often than failure in onboarding of the new hire.

According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46% of new hires will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success. Interestingly, and contrary to popular belief, technical skills are not the primary reason why new hires fail; instead, poor interpersonal skills dominate the list.

shining schitts creek GIF by CBC

#4 Direct and Short-Term Cost: Time Spent by HR, Managers, and New Hires

If you’re still doing things manually with email as your go-to way of communicating to new hires and other staff, you’re likely to be surprised at just how much time you are spending chasing, advising, re-doing tasks – all with no defined objective.

When speaking with Preppio’s customers we found that the average onboarding program has 56 activities per new hire across all stakeholders including managers, buddies, IT, and HR. The number of onboarding activities increases the larger the organization.

Of course, this number depends on the type of employee and the onboarding program implemented, but streamlining this process guarantees that onboarding is standardized instead of left to chance.

Want to learn the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?

👉Get free cost of new hire onboarding spreadsheet  👈


The indirect and long-term costs affect your organization!

#1 Indirect and Long-Term Cost: New hire Engagement

One of the typical onboarding pain-points for managers is time. This means they are focused on tasks rather than orienting new hires into the broader business objectives of the company and its brand. In order for employees to have a sense of purpose at work, their roles should be consistent with the higher objectives of the business.

Without the opportunity for new hires to connect with a higher business goal, the employee’s level of engagement slowly decreases and along with it, so too does his interest in the role. This is where culture plays an important role in bringing a different quality of connection with co-workers.

A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published in the MIT Loan Management review 12 showed that participation in onboarding where new hires were encouraged to apply their unique personal strengths to their jobs, making it easier for employers to help them connect with their colleagues, became more engaged in their work and improved retention.

There must be room for personalization and for the new hires to feel special. You might not be able to give the CEO treatment to every single person, but there are plenty of things leaders and HR can do to personalize the onboarding process, at scale!

#2 Indirect and Long-Term Cost: Employer Branding and Recruiting

We have talked a lot about the financial consequences to companies as a result of bad onboarding. But what about a business’s intangible assets? A company’s image and reputation are two assets often overlooked. However, a great brand must offer a great brand experience, and if the two don’t align, there’s a problem.

This is where reputation can tarnish your brand credibility. Reputation is made up of a mix of sentiments from clients, your customers, your people (employees), and also potential employees who are your candidates. Individually, each will form judgments about whether to work with you (clients) or work for you (employees). Collectively, these sentiments form an organization’s rating as an employer of choice. Bad onboarding is a common theme when it comes to employee reviews. Investing in the new hire experience in the onboarding phase is critical for employer branding.

lisa simpson GIF

Candidate experience also deserves a mention as it is the stage before onboarding. Successful talent acquisition is directly aligned with the quality of experience which is defined by the series of interactions between new hire and employer.

#3 Indirect and Long-Term Cost: Customer Experience, Health, Safety, and Compliance

When it comes to compliance and health and safety most companies work through the necessary “checklist” to satisfy standards. However, what we often hear is that after the first introduction, n tend to lose focus on compliance-related issues as their managers prioritize productivity, inadvertently pressuring them to deliver on their roles.

The purpose of having a deliberate onboarding process with a focus on compliance is to ensure that information is not just read but understood. A designed onboarding program is a productive and efficient way to communicate expectations around behavior in the workplace.

#4 Indirect and Long-Term Cost: Company Culture

Much of what has been discussed feeds directly into the company culture. Company culture is an internal expression that the company is doing things right. It’s a reliable barometer. If the culture is right, there’s a greater chance that many of the road-blocks that affect putting a great onboarding process in place won’t exist or be as problematic.

The idea of culture has climbed up the list of priorities for candidates over the years. In fact, the majority of people looking for work consider company culture as being ‘relatively’ important, while 46% claim it’s ‘very’ important.

Just like onboarding, culture is a permanent brand fixture. It’s not something a company chooses to have. Rather, it exists as either good or bad. If we agree that company culture is made up of the many micro-experiences to which a company subjects its candidates, clients, and employees - it follows that the onboarding experience, too, contributes to its culture.

We like think about culture as the way people behave when no one is watching, essentially the habits that we do not think, just do. What kind of culture people see in the early days set the habit culture for. the employee life cycle.

Modern HR teams are not a cost center!

As an HR practitioner, you can deliver impact to your company’s bottom line by improving the employee experience during the pre and onboarding process.

When companies review and assess the business case with our onboarding experts here at Preppio our experience shows that there is often a ten-fold return on the investment. This is substantial and reflects that if there is no investment in people at the critical early stages of employment, issues can manifest not only for the hire but across the business. 

Most HR practitioners we speak to already know that they have a broken onboarding process. What surprises them is the cost and impact it has on the bottom line. The solutions are different from company to company depending on the areas of concern, but the tangible returns across department functions and disciplines - from automating time-consuming tasks, reducing unwanted turnover, speed to productivity, and increased employee engagement - are hard to ignore.

If these key onboarding checkpoints have raised some concerns you may like to access a series of cost of onboarding a new hire Worksheets that we have put together to help organizations delve more deeply into their onboarding requirements!


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Do you want to know the cost of onboarding a new hire to your company?


This blog is an excerpt from a chapter in the upcoming book written by Talya Bauer Ph. D, and Amin Fard on employee onboarding. It comes with all the resources you need to revamp your employee onboarding from the ground up.

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