Onboarding Communications and the Short and Long-Term Impacts

April 8, 2024

Dawn Wilkins

business people shaking hands at an event

Onboarding employees is a critical phase that profoundly impacts an employee’s experience within an organization. It sets the tone for an employee’s journey, making impactful communication a cornerstone of a successful integration process. How employers communicate during onboarding significantly influences an employee's initial experience and long-term engagement. In this article, we'll explore the importance of impactful communication during onboarding, including key ways to communicate effectively and highlighting what information is important to convey.

The Impact of Effective Onboarding Communication

Effective communication during onboarding goes beyond paperwork and procedures—it sets the stage for a positive and productive employee experience. Yet, 88% of employees believe that their company doesn’t do a great job when it comes to onboarding new employees. Approximately 35% of companies spend no money on onboarding. A well-structured communication plan can help ensure that new hires feel welcomed, informed, and connected to the organization from day one. It can foster a sense of belonging, improve retention rates, employee engagement, and much more.  

Retention Rates:

  • Organizations with strong onboarding processes can increase new hire retention by 82% and can improve productivity by 70%. This underscores the crucial link between a well-structured onboarding program and employee commitment to the organization.

Job Satisfaction:

  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that employees who experienced a structured onboarding process were 69% more likely to remain at a company for three years. A positive onboarding experience contributes significantly to job satisfaction and long-term commitment.

Time to Productivity:

  • Effective communication during onboarding expedites acclimatization, enabling employees to contribute meaningfully to their roles sooner and drastically improve productivity.

The Ripple Effect of Effective Onboarding Communication 

1. Reduced Turnover Costs:

The cost of employee turnover and replacing an employee can be significant; it costs up to 40% of an employee’s base salary to hire a new employee with benefits, according to LinkedIn 2023 Statistics. Effective onboarding communication directly contributes to reduced turnover rates, translating into substantial cost savings.

2. Positive Impact on Customer Satisfaction:

Gallup found that organizations with highly engaged employees experience a 10% increase in customer ratings. The direct correlation between engaged employees and customer satisfaction stems from effective onboarding communication. This underscores how the onboarding process plays a pivotal role in shaping not only the employee experience but also the overall satisfaction and loyalty of customers.

3. Enhanced Employee Well-Being:

According to the American Psychological Association, employees who feel valued are 60% more likely to report being motivated to do their very best. Effective communication during onboarding establishes a foundation of value and support, positively impacting employee well-being.

Key Ways to Communicate Effectively During Onboarding

  1. Welcome Package: Send a personalized welcome package that includes essential information about the company, its values, and a warm welcome message from key team members. This also reiterates your brand, company tone, and messaging. 
  2. Pre-Boarding Communication: You may initiate communication even before the official start date, providing details about the first day's agenda, dress code, and any preparatory materials. This can help provide the employees with a warm welcome and ensure they know you are excited to have them.
  3. Interactive Orientation Sessions: Conduct interactive orientation sessions to introduce new hires to the company's history, mission, and values. Encourage open dialogue and questions to establish a sense of transparency.
  4. Assigned Onboarding Buddy: Pair new hires with an onboarding buddy who can provide guidance, share insights, and offer a friendly face during the initial weeks.
  5. Digital Platforms and Software: It is also helpful to have someone show them how to access network drives, where to store or access team documents, and how to use other tools like Teams, Zoom, and Slack.

Construction worker shaking hands with someone

What to include in your onboarding communications

Company Culture: Articulate the organization's culture, values, and mission to help new hires align their personal values with those of the company.

Role Expectations: Clearly define job roles, responsibilities, and expectations to set realistic expectations and foster a clear understanding of individual contributions.

Benefits and Perks: Communicate details about employee benefits, perks, and any additional resources available, helping new hires understand the comprehensive support provided.

Workplace Policies: Provide comprehensive information about workplace policies, code of conduct, and relevant procedures to ensure alignment with organizational standards.

Team Introduction: Introduce new hires to their immediate team members, outlining team structures and encouraging team-building activities to foster camaraderie.

Key resources: Don’t forget to provide new hires with organizational charts of their immediate team, leadership, and the entire organization. Show them other tools and how to use them, like the employee directory, company maps, intranet pages, office addresses, and locations. 

Building a Comprehensive Communication Plan

Creating an effective onboarding communication plan involves thoughtful consideration of the following elements:

Timely Information Delivery: Provide information at the right time to avoid overwhelming new hires. Gradual information delivery ensures they can absorb and understand each aspect of the onboarding process.

Multichannel Approach: Utilize a mix of communication channels, including in-person meetings, virtual sessions, emails, and digital platforms. A multichannel approach accommodates diverse communication preferences.

Continued Communication: Extend communication beyond the initial onboarding period to provide ongoing support, guidance, and updates. This helps maintain a strong connection with employees as they settle into their roles.

The Role of Communication in Employee Engagement

Effective onboarding communication directly influences employee engagement, contributing to higher retention rates and job satisfaction. A well-informed and engaged employee is more likely to integrate seamlessly into the workplace, contribute positively to the team, and align with the organization's long-term goals. This not only fosters a positive work environment but also saves the company time and resources, as a happy employee is more productive and less likely to contribute to turnover or require extensive retraining. Investing in a robust onboarding process ensures that new hires feel supported, reducing the risk of them feeling lost or set up to fail, ultimately benefiting the organization's overall efficiency and success.

The onboarding process is a pivotal phase that sets the foundation for an employee's journey within the organization. It serves well for employers to recognize the transformative power of impactful communication during this period. By employing a thoughtful and comprehensive communication plan, companies can ensure that new hires feel supported, informed, and ready to embark on a successful and fulfilling career journey with the organization. 


Data sources:


Benefits Communications: New Insights into What Works, Westcomm, 2022, page 11 

This Update is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinion be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. All rights reserved.

About the Author

 Dawn Wilkins
Director of Employee Communications & Member Engagement, Employee Benefits

Dawn spearheads the development and implementation of robust communication strategies aimed at enhancing employee wellness, mitigating benefit costs, and empowering employees with the necessary knowledge to make informed benefit selections.

With over 25 years of experience, she has been at the forefront of innovating communication tools and resources tailored to assist employers in educating their employees, enhancing user experiences, and fostering increased employee engagement, ultimately resulting in optimized benefits program outcomes.