Talent Management
September 26, 2019

Has Onboarding Become Too Much of an Experience and Not Enough of Equipping Workers for Success?

Onboarding, once considered a basic orientation to familiarize new employees with their company’s operations and policies, has evolved into a full-fledged “experience.” Today, onboarding is no longer a process experience, it’s an acculturation event, sometimes similar to sales seminars, where talent are encouraged to embrace the organization’s mission, values, and environmental mindset. The focus has shifted from preparation and settling in to ramping up, inspiring contributions, committing to team objectives, and advocating for the company brand. And those qualities can produce vibrant and morale-boosting results. But along the way, have we lost sight of the logistics and process experience portions of the “experience?” According to an onboarding survey by Ivanti, only 15% of new employees have the resources they need to perform on the first day of their assignments or jobs. The remaining 85% may be excited to dive in after an engaging onboarding experience, but are they ready?

Is the Onboarding Experience Equipping Workers for Success?

Just by reviewing current onboarding best practices, even from thought leaders such as SHRM, it’s easy to notice how the process has moved to embrace interaction and influence over important logistics. Take a look at the management adoption questions SHRM presents for the development of an onboarding program:

  • When will onboarding start?
  • How long will it last?
  • What impression do you want new hires to walk away with at the end of the first day?
  • What do new employees need to know about the culture and work environment?
  • What role will HR play in the process? What about direct managers? Co-workers?
  • What kind of goals do you want to set for new employees?
  • How will you gather feedback on the program and measure its success?

These are all great points. They effectively emphasize key characteristics of culture, engagement, endorsement, and attitude. What seems absent, however, are the elements of assigning access, system privileges, safety training, standard operating procedures, equipment distribution, and other less fun but incredibly crucial tools for success.

“When onboarding a new employee there are many things that need to be done,” Amberly Asay Janke wrote in Ivanti’s September blog. “And although companies think they have a pretty smooth process established, 85% of employees don’t have all of the resources needed to do their job on day one, according to a new survey from Ivanti, the leader in unified IT and security operations. After surveying nearly 400 IT professionals, it’s clear that there are still many areas for IT to improve when it comes to onboarding and offboarding.”

  • 85% of employees don’t have all of the resources they need to do their job on day one.
  • 38% of IT professionals say it takes about two-to-four days to get a new employee everything they need.
  • 27% admitted that it takes more than one week to accomplish this goal.

The study also noted that 92% of respondents felt that a strong correlation exists between proper onboarding and overall employee satisfaction. Yet, 24% felt processes were poorly defined, with 23% desiring more automation.

It’s not just an issue of onboarding, though. Offboarding also has its share of challenges.

  • 26% of respondents said it takes more than one week to fully deprovision an employee who is leaving a company.
  • 52% said they know someone who still has access to a former employer’s applications and data.
  • 56% of respondents have faced an external regulatory compliance audit in the last four-to-five years. “When asked which compliance regulations an organization was subject to,” Janke said, “the top three choices were HIPAA (27%), GDPR (25%), and SOX (23%).”

Failing to properly deprovision departing talent presents obstacles that surpass mere inconvenience. Security risks increase, involving the threat of leaked sensitive data, a cybersecurity hack, breaches and intrusions, malicious data detection, and information theft.

Back to Onboarding Basics

As Sonja Gittens-Ottley explained in Asana’s Wavelength blog, “Onboarding is a pivotal moment for making employees feel included from day one. It sets the tone for a person’s tenure at your company, laying the foundation for their knowledge of and experience working for your company. This is why building an inclusive onboarding experience is so important to creating an inclusive company culture.”

But to be truly inclusive—and establish a robust, meaningful program that prepares new talent to hit the ground running—onboarding must provide the tools employees require.

It’s Not the Destination, It’s the Journey

Imparting corporate goals and assignment objectives is a critical component of onboarding. But the goal alone doesn’t tell workers everything they should know. MSPs and staffing suppliers must collaborate with clients to obtain the details that prepare talent for the path toward achieving those ends.

  • Share the company’s actual roadmap and strategy to provide direction, context, an understanding of team roles, and priorities.
  • Define the client’s internal communication styles: expectations, processes, systems used, synchronous versus asynchronous approaches, and cross-collaboration.
  • Prior to onboarding, work with the client’s IT to set up user accounts in the communications platforms that will be used and incorporate training into the onboarding.

Prepare in Advance

In an outsourced contingent workforce management program, a client’s hiring managers are going to leave the onboarding to the MSP. Staffing partners can assist.

  • Ensure that the onboarding process is consistently executed
  • Monitor compliance with pre-employment processes (drug screens, background checks, confidentiality form executions)
  • Provide guides, forms, handbooks and other required orientation materials
  • Coordinate periodic audits of compliance with drug testing, background screening and confidentiality form execution
  • Ensure that onboarding documents, screening requirements, NDAs, licenses and certifications, and other vital documents are stored and tracked in the ATS and/or VMS system

MSPs and staffing suppliers, if possible, should coordinate with the client’s IT to provision technology assets and providing access to networks, Internet, file servers, computers, and more. If the resources for new workers are set up prior to the onboarding date, training and day one activities can be expedited.

  • Issuing and setting up equipment (e.g., computers, telephones) for new talent
  • Setting up corporate accounts and networks
  • Granting access to appropriate platforms (e.g., shared drives or other internal systems)
  • Developing or deploying software or other technology solutions that support onboarding
  • Training procedures for use of any related assets

The client’s Facilities staff can also take proactive steps to accelerate output by arranging for office space to accommodate new talent. MSPs and staffing suppliers should coordinate with these resources to assist with:

  • Identifying and arranging desks and work spaces
  • Preparing office supplies that will be needed


As Gittens-Ottley advised, timing is everything: “You can optimize new hire start dates by having them join at a time when they can contribute most effectively and when their team is available and present… For example, having a new hire start over the holidays or right before their manager goes out on leave means they have less of a support system. This can make them feel left out or like their arrival to the company isn’t a priority.”


To prevent issues or miscommunication, establish roles, chains of command, and accountability with HR prior to deploying an onboarding program. Work with HR (or the identified onboarding owner) upfront to identify key resources, determine performance standards, and document shared onboarding goals that will be reported back at the conclusion of onboarding. Always solicit feedback from the client, MSP, and talent to drive continuous improvement.

The most successful onboarding programs cover the basics for all categories of workers, regardless of location or level, while tailoring elements of the program to specific types of talent. In developing the onboarding program, consider the needs of new workers and their expectations of the onboarding experience, in addition to the requirements, resources, and tools for mandatory activities.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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