The Importance of SMART Onboarding

You walk into the car dealership confident with your decision, and you’re excited about finally purchasing the car of your dreams. The salesman accompanies you on the test drive; the drive is smooth and comfortable, and you can see yourself happy with this as your daily driver. As he highlights the car’s features, the salesman casually brags that approximately 75% of their new cars are still running three months after purchase.

Are you shocked? Would you be comfortable making the significant investment required to purchase a new vehicle if there was a 25% chance it would breakdown within 90 days?

Notice I said the salesman bragged about this rate – that’s because your odds for a new hire are even worse.

According to a recent survey by Jobvite, approximately 30% of new hires will quit in their first 90 days. Take a moment to let that sink in…

30% of new hires will quit in their first 90 days.

For a little perspective, if you hired 100 people in January, 30 will have resigned by the end of March.

At the time of this writing, BASF (the world’s largest chemical company) has more than 1700 job openings worldwide. Of the people hired for those positions, more than 500 will have resigned by the end of a fiscal quarter.


For many, they simply didn’t get what they expected. Maybe the responsibilities were different from what they expected, maybe they didn’t smoothly assimilate into the culture, or maybe a specific negative experience left a bad taste in their mouth.

In The Definitive Guide to Onboarding, BambooHR asked what might have enticed these people to stay. Some answers weren’t surprising –clear guidelines regarding responsibilities and more effective training were top responses (23% and 21% respectively). One response really stands out from the rest, though: “17 percent said, ‘a friendly smile or helpful coworker would have made all the difference.’” 17% may not seem like a lot – especially since that’s only 17% of the 30% who resign after a short tenure (5% of all new hires).

Still, that implies that 17% of early turnover – 85 of BASF’s currently open positions – could be prevented with nothing more than a few friendly gestures.

That’s not including the 9% who wanted “more attention from the ‘manager and coworkers’”.

Hiring and training new employees are major investments in time, money and other resources. Just like when you buy a car, you want to make sure you’re going to get the most for that investment – without having to worry about repeating the whole process in a couple of months.

Chances are, your candidates are excited when they accept your job offer. If that is true, it stands to reason that something changes between the “Yes” and the end of their first 90 days on the job. The most obvious place to look for improvement, then, is with onboarding processes. You can learn more about how to upgrade your onboarding to set employees up for success in The SMART Onboarding Handbook, a Ropella White Paper that will be available soon. (If you would like to be notified upon its publication, leave a comment on this article.)

Until then, I’ll leave you with one final, uplifting statistic from O.C. Tanner: A great onboarding experience results in 69% of employees being more likely to stay with the company for at least 3 years.