Onboarding is a critical organisational activity. Onboarding programs are typically spearheaded by HR, who take ownership of administrative tasks, induction programs, and facilitate check-ins and coaching between new starters and managers. While onboarding processes can vary between organisations, the goal is the same: to ensure new hires are job-ready, engaged and reach maximum productivity as quickly as possible. With so much importance placed on the value of onboarding, employers need to know how they can optimise their processes.

ELMO’s 2021 HR Industry Benchmark Report, which surveyed over 1800 HR professionals in Australia and New Zealand, uncovered some interesting insights about onboarding – some surprising, some not-so surprising.

So, what did we learn?

1. Onboarding was a lower priority in 2020 than in 2019

In 2020, 60% of HR professionals said onboarding was a high or medium priority for their organisation, compared to 76% in 2019. This can be attributed to the effects of COVID-19 and the fact that recruitment wasn’t at the top of many organisational agendas.


2. There has been an increase in the use of technology to automate onboarding tasks

In 2019, one in three (35%) respondents said they had fully implemented onboarding technology, but in 2020 that rose to one in two (51%). This suggests there is a common understanding around the importance of maximising onboarding efforts to achieve organisational goals.

3. The biggest onboarding challenge is a lack of formal processes

When asked what the most common onboarding challenges the organisation faced, respondents answered similarly to the responses from 2019. The biggest change was those who were challenged by ad hoc steps / lack of formal processes, which reduced by 5 percentage points, from 35% in 2019 to 30% in 2020. This can be attributed to the fact that onboarding technology was more widely implemented in 2020 and therefore tasks were automated and streamlined.

4. Almost half of organisations don’t use metrics to measure onboarding performance

Measuring the effectiveness of an onboarding program helps to inform future strategy and enhance the new hire experience. However, 43% of HR professionals do not use any metrics to measure performance. Unsurprisingly, most of these respondents had not fully implemented technology. One-third (32%) of respondents use new hire retention as a measure of onboarding performance, and one in five (20%) assess whether employee performance milestones were met.

5. It takes 3 months for most new hires to meet full productivity

The goal of effective onboarding is for new hires to reach full productivity quickly. According to the report, the most common length of time for a new starter to read full productivity in 2020 was three months, according to 33% of respondents. The second-most common length of time was one month (25%) followed by six months (17%). 10% of respondents said they didn’t know how long it took their new hires to reach full productivity.

For some organisations in 2020, onboarding was put on the backburner. It was a lesser priority simply due to a decline in new talent acquisition. However, the urgency to upgrade and streamline processes is arguably more important than ever before. In order to rebuild and scale-up post-pandemic, organisations will rely on the quality of their onboarding programs, so must understand the value of adopting technology to facilitate better outcomes.

This blog only presents top-level results from one section of the ELMO 2021 HR Industry Benchmark Report. If you’d like a comprehensive overview of HR and payroll trends, challenges, use of metrics and technology, download your report today. The HR Industry Benchmark Report provides in-depth insights into the current state of end-to-end HR processes, including recruitment and onboarding, learning & development, performance management, and more. Data in our report is split by company size, geography (Australia / New Zealand), role seniority, and industry^ enabling you to benchmark your current HR practices against your peers.

^Report+ only.

HROnboard, an ELMO company, offers a best-in-class software solution that reduces the amount of time HR teams and leaders spend securing the best candidates and undertaking the critical onboarding process for new hires. Our solution also helps manage internal employee role changes and can create a smooth and seamless process for exiting employees. To find out more, reach us here.

ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll offers end-to-end solutions for the entire employee lifecycle, from ‘hire to retire’. This includes recruitment, learning, performance management, payroll, rostering / time & attendance, and more. For further information, contact us.

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