With the “great resignation” in full swing, herculean efforts in the war for talent are being waged with things like perks, benefits and promises of advancement used to attract employees. Once hired and after a quick onboarding, the stage is set for a long and productive career, right? Not necessarily so. According to a Gallup article, only 12% of U.S. employees say their company does a good job of executive onboarding, which sets the stage for their tenure. A dysfunctional or ineffective executive onboarding program can contribute to losing that candidate your organization worked hard to recruit, not to mention higher costs. The cost of replacing an employee is anywhere from 16% for hourly workers and up to 213% of the annual salary for highly trained leaders.

Conversely, a strong executive onboarding process can enable the employees and organization to be more productive and get new employees working more quickly and effectively. A strong executive onboarding process:

  • Creates meaningful connections with others who are important to this person’s role.
  • Increases role clarity for the employee and how they fit into the overall goals.
  • Provides a deeper understanding of the organization’s culture: do’s and don’ts.
  • Increases employee engagement.
  • Reduces organizational costs.

The Difference Between Executive Onboarding and Orientation

New hire orientation offered during their first few days of employment is for employees to learn about company policies, benefits and processes they’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis. This is important. Though, it misses the acculturation needed to emotionally connect to a new workplace.

Executive onboarding, on the other hand, is the process of helping new hires acclimate to their new organization by teaching them about the culture and strategic links to other functional areas. It helps them create real connections with fellow team members through things like team-building exercises and allows them to gain a better perspective of their role and responsibilities by meeting with stakeholders. It introduces the leadership skills needed in their functional area to drive overall performance.

How Effective Onboarding Programs Affect Growth

The success and efficiency of your executive onboarding process can directly impact the growth and long-term viability of your company through employee engagement, increased productivity and decreased turnover. Your executive onboarding process is essential to integrating new employees into your company and assimilating them to the culture.

Executive onboarding is a critical aspect of the employee life cycle, but it is often overlooked. The following are goals and tips for executive onboarding:

Increasing Employee Retention

One of the most important roles of executive onboarding is to make new hires feel valued and welcomed. It is a time to create connections that foster meaningful relationships. You don’t want new employees to feel that they’re just another cog in the machine—you want them to understand that they play an important role in helping the company achieve its goals. A survey of 1,000 U.S. employees by Bamboo HR found that the first six months of an employee’s tenure is the most critical because that’s when 31% of new hires are likely to leave.

Tip: A powerful way to make new hires feel valued is for senior leaders to give their time and attention to them during their onboarding process.

Improving Employee Satisfaction

Executive onboarding is the employee’s first impression of a company, and their long-term satisfaction depends largely on what happens during their first months in their new position. Employees who have had great executive onboarding experiences are over twice as likely to be satisfied with their workplace, according to Gallup.

Tip: Helping your new employee understand and see how their work fits into the organizational goals helps create a meaningful workplace.

Providing An Understanding Of Organizational Culture

A well-designed executive onboarding strategy can have a tremendous impact on how employees understand the company culture by showing what it means to be part of the organization and how they contribute to its culture. This can be accomplished in a number of specific ways, such as:

  • Explaining the mission and vision statement to new employees.
  • Highlighting how the culture impacts organizational performance.
  • Introduce existing employees who exemplify the cultural values and norms.

Tip: Present examples of how work has been done by employees that highlight your values of collaboration, inquiry and working across organizational boundaries.

Generating Alignment On Role Clarity

Effective executive onboarding happens over months, but you set the tone on the first day. Whether you’re hiring a senior-level executive or an entry-level employee, the onboarding process gets everyone on the same page regarding their new role.

A successful executive onboarding program is aligned with corporate goals and communicates clearly what success looks like from the different perspectives within the organization. It provides a framework for managers to follow when discussing goals, responsibilities and performance measures with each new hire.

Tip: Have the new employee meet with stakeholders to understand their perspective on the person’s role.

Creating A Social And Professional Network

Executive onboarding is the time to create meaningful connections and emphasize inclusion with others. If you don’t already have a formal networking program in place, building one can help ensure that your employees are making connections that can benefit their work and careers.

Consider three ways to do this.

  • Schedule a few casual “getting to know you” events when a new employee starts. This gives the employee an opportunity to meet people outside of their department and learn more about the company culture.
  • Create a buddy program for executive onboarding. The buddy can answer questions about company culture, help guide through unfamiliar processes or simply provide another point of contact if problems arise.

Tip: Provide opportunities for mentoring with a more experienced employee who knows how the organization works across boundaries and who can provide guidance on technical and interpersonal matters.


No matter who you are or what you do in business, getting the most out of your hard-won battle for talent makes having an effective executive onboarding program vital.

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