Odgers berndtson
Location and language United States | EN

Leadership Insights

How to strategize effective onboarding as part of your business plan. 

Recruitment success doesn’t end with simply hiring the best candidate.

  • Careful onboarding can significantly help staff retention rates.
  • Candidates who feel welcome may produce results sooner.
  • Organizations as a whole should be involved in welcoming new employees.


Placing the best-suited candidate shouldn’t complete the recruitment process, it’s just as important to properly integrate them into their new organization. 

Our success as a firm is intrinsically linked not just to hiring the right person for the right role, but more long term; what happens next to that individual and the quality of their performance over the following years, not months, is what matters. This is why we support our clients and the individuals they hire through us during the ‘honeymoon’ period and beyond. If we can provide insight to give every new senior hire the best possible chance of succeeding, then that’s in our interests too.

Why do organizations invest considerable time, effort and money in finding the right person for a position, but then fail to give them the time, resource and knowledge required for them to succeed from day one?

Research indicates that 40% of executives who change roles fail in the first 18 months. That seems alarmingly high and perhaps avoidable.

Of course, many organizations have very effective induction programs and not all departures in the first six months of someone’s tenure with a business can be blamed on a poor induction process. Companies do just sometimes make bad hires that don’t work out.

Businesses expect new employees to get up to speed quickly but often don’t give the information, knowledge or access to relationships to make this happen.

A good induction and onboarding program motivates staff into feeling like the company has invested in them and helps them to achieve success sooner. This is also reported in an article by the Harvard Business Review, highlighting that a formal onboarding program could mean a 50% increase in new employee retention. Many people would say that a senior executive shouldn’t need too much hand-holding to succeed and to an extent I would agree with this. That being said, there are a number of basic onboarding principles that can be implemented by employers which could reduce the risk of a quick and painful senior departure.

Be honest

During the interview process be honest in your appraisal of your firm, the expectations you put on people, the ambition of the company and the culture.

Be fair

Don’t be tempted to add in an extra remit to the new employee’s role among them signing the contract and starting the job. 

Set up a meeting

Find time for the hiring manager and new employee to meet prior to the start date. The new employee will be keen to impress and may want to share knowledge. It will also show that you value their opinion and knowledge.

Be clear with expectations

Reiterate on day one why the individual has been hired into the business, especially if they bring a new skill set to the organization that is likely to have a big impact. 

Get them up and running

Do the basics well. Make sure they have all the necessary ‘tech kit’ available from day one and access to people who can help them with early teething issues. 

Have regular catch-ups

Hiring managers should commit to at least weekly one-to-ones in the first month. Support, advise, reiterate expectations and clear blockages.

Let them get to know the business

Provide dedicated time with a variety of people around the business, not just HR, to get to grips with culture, values, company style and ambition/strategy. 

Make relationships

Facilitate meetings, ideally pre-start-date, with all critical stakeholders of their role, especially internal. This process of forging critical relationships should not be seen as a rite of passage. If the candidate comes from another industry then find ways for them to engage with other people in your sector quickly, either from within your company or across external industry groups.

Identify if any further support is needed

Identify the need for internal sponsors, mentors and coaches as well as external mentors.

Finding their feet

Give them at least the first month to ‘find their feet’, even if they are someone who ‘hits the ground running’. That is not to say you can’t set clear and stretching objectives – just make sure these can be achieved with the resources available so they feel like they get off to a winning start.

Call on their strengths

If possible, consider using all the information gathered about a candidate from the interview process such as character traits, strengths and weaknesses, results of psychometric evaluations and personal details to develop a tailored onboarding plan. The interview process for senior execs is likely to be lengthy, in-depth and informative; don’t waste the opportunity to use this information to you and your new employee’s advantage.

Finally, induction and onboarding does not stop after 30 days and is not the responsibility of a select few. The more people who make them feel welcome the better.

Inevitably, individuals will either be successful or not. A large part of that success will come down to a new employee’s drive, determination and ambition.

However, making a new employee’s first few weeks painless, removing obvious blockages and helping them to feel special takes very little time and could be the difference between a happy partnership or another external search.


To find out more about effective onboarding, please get in touch with us here. You can also find your local Odgers Berndtson contact here.

With special thanks to the author of this article, Andrew Bulloss, Head of our UK Sports Gaming and Media Practice.

Stay up to date: Sign up here for our global newsletter OBSERVE, and receive the latest news in leadership and top talent, industry insights, and events directly to your inbox.

Find us on Twitter and LinkedIn @OdgersBerndtson

Find a consultant [[ Scroll to top ]]