10 Employee Onboarding Statistics you Must Know in 2021

Jen Dewar
By Jen Dewar
October 5, 2021
Employee Onboarding
As we enter into 2021, strategic employee onboarding continues to be a key focus for many organizations. The Human Capital Institute has found that companies invested in improving the onboarding experience are more likely to see key benefits, such as increased engagement levels, decreased time to proficiency, and decreased turnover.

But the most innovative companies understand that building an effective onboarding program is an iterative and ongoing process. Whether you’re just starting out with your program, or you’re a seasoned veteran, check out these 10 employee onboarding statistics you must know in 2021:
82% Progress


Research by Glassdoor found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent.

Unemployment is low, job openings are high, and people have many choices when it comes to where they want to work—so it’s important to engage and retain employees from day 1. A strong employee onboarding process can help you accomplish that, while also helping new hires ramp faster, so they can be productive sooner.
Employee Onboarding Process

2 88% of organizations
don't onboard well

Gallup found that only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees. That means 88% don't believe their organizations do a great job of onboarding, and that leaves a lot of room for improvement!

Given that a strong onboarding process can result in higher retention and productivity, there’s a huge opportunity for most organizations to do more on that front. Only about one in 10 employees think their employer does a great job of onboarding new employees—so use employee surveys to find out what you could be doing better!
58% Progress

3 58% of organizations say their onboarding program is focused on processes and paperwork

It’s no surprise that only 12 percent of employees think their organization does a great job onboarding, when HCI found that more than half of organizations focus their employee onboarding on processes and paperwork. Furthermore, one-third said their onboarding program was informal, inconsistent, or reactive. The best employee onboarding programs structured and strategic, rather than administrative, with focus on people, not paperwork.
7-Day Turnaround

4 Most organizations only focus on week 1 of onboarding

HCI states that most organizations have stopped their onboarding process just after the first week, leaving new hires feeling confused, discouraged, and lacking resources. Again, it’s no surprise organizations aren’t doing a great job with onboarding when all activities are completed so quickly. A week is hardly enough time for a new hire to become acclimated to their company, culture, and role. The best employee onboarding programs extend throughout the employee’s first 90 days—and may even extend out for a full year—to ensure new hires are fully supported as they ramp to full productivity.

5 A negative onboarding experience results in new hires being 2x more likely to look for other opportunities

According to Digitate, employees who had a negative onboarding experience are twice as likely to look for other career opportunities in the future.

The average US employer spends $4000 and 24 days to hire a new worker. With a negative new hire onboarding experience, your new hire could walk out and effectively double your cost and time to hire. Once you take into account the cost of vacancy, lost productivity, and the impact on morale, losing an employee so soon after they’ve been hired is actually much worse than it appears on the surface.
93% of employers find a good onboarding experience critical for new hires' success: Download Sapling's Virtual Onboarding eBook for best practices for candidate success.
1 in 5 People

6 1 in 5 new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer

Digitate reports that one in five new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend of family member after their new hire onboarding experience.

Employee referrals are one of the most coveted sources of hire because they’re faster and less expensive to hire, onboard faster, and stay longer. Many organizations will host sourcing jams with their new hires to dig into their social networks and see which of their connections might be a good fit for current or future roles. That’s why it’s a shame that 20 percent of new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend or family member.
Buddy Programs

7 87% say buddy programs boost new hire proficiency

According to HCI, 87 percent of organizations that assign an ambassador or buddy program during the onboarding process say that it's an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency.

While a buddy program is considered highly effective, fewer than half (47 percent) of organizations include it in their onboarding program. A buddy program is fairly easy to implement—and it’s free! Just match a seasoned employee with your new hire, and request that they check in once a week for the first month, and 1-2x per month thereafter, to make sure your new hire is acclimating to their new environment. They can introduce the new hire to other employees, help them find their way around the office, and show them local coffee shops and lunch spots.
Cross-Boarding Employees

8 81% of organizations believe cross-boarding is just as important as new hire onboarding

HCI reports that 81 percent of organizations agree that onboarding internal hires is just as important as onboarding external hires. However, only 27 percent of organizations report that they effectively onboard employees that are promoted or moved to a new position. Internal hires won’t need company-specific information but certainly benefit from social activities to get to know their new team and role-specific onboarding.

9 The biggest onboarding challenge is inconsistent application

Inconsistent application, competing priorities, ability to measure ROI, buy-in and manager accountability, and insufficient internal resources are the top onboarding challenges reported by HCI.

If you’re facing these challenges with your employee onboarding program, know that you’re not alone. The good news is that many organizations have overcome these challenges, and there’s plenty of guidance available to help you do the same. An employee onboarding solution can also help in many of these areas. For instance, it can reduce manual tasks to maximize resources, and can automate reminders to help ensure a consistent application and manager accountability.

10 The average new hire onboarding experience consists of 54 activities

Sapling reports that new hires will have over 50 activities that need to be completed during their onboarding period.

The average new hire will be assigned 3 documents to sign, upload, or acknowledge, and 41 administrative tasks to complete, such as desk set-up. They will also have 10 outcomes, which are achieved learning goals around the company culture, market knowledge, and role alignment. This variety of activities ensure the new hire is fully acclimated and integrated into their new role.

How Zapier has invested in improving the onboarding experience

Now you know the benefits of employee onboarding to company success, see how Zapier is using Sapling to empower their new hires.

They use Sapling as their global people operations platform to create consistency in the employee experience for a fully distributed team.

See Case Study
Ashley Priebe Brown, Senior Onboarding Specialist at Zapier
Once we assign a workflow, we know new hires will have access to the information they need when they need it, which makes for a smooth onboarding process without a lot of heavy lifting
Ashley Priebe Brown, Senior Onboarding Specialist at Zapier

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