Did you know employees usually decide whether they want to stay or leave their new job within the first six months? Therefore, your company must create a great first impression and a good onboarding experience can help.

The onboarding process is a key opportunity for companies to win the hearts and minds of new employees. It's where you can influence your recent hires on whether they remain or quit. During the interview and offer stage, the company's employee value proposition (EVP) is what attracted your top talent, and it sets the tone and expectations for your new employees' experience.

Read on to find out why a good onboarding experience is key to retaining employees, and what you can do to keep them excited and engaged.

Create an inclusive onboarding experience

A simple way to make new hires feel welcomed is to take the time to assimilate them into your company's culture and emphasise diversity and inclusion during the onboarding experience. This highlights that these attributes are important to your company and that the qualities that make people unique, really matter to your organisation. Incorporating new hires into the company's culture ensures they have a solid footing early on and will be able to contribute positively to your working culture. With an inclusive onboarding process, new joiners will have a meaningful experience from their first day, are engaged and likely to remain with the company.

Paint the big picture

Onboarding is a critical period for making employees feel included - it sets the tone for their journey with your company. As a manager or colleague, sometimes it's easy to forget what it feels like to be the new joiner when you've accumulated so much knowledge and experience in the business. Your onboarding program should acknowledge this and your approach towards getting new hires engaged in your company's business model, mission and bigger picture should be conducted with patience and understanding. By sharing your current roadmap they will be able to set priorities better and understand how they can contribute to the company's success. It is also advisable to spend time on introducing new starters to other staff and teams, so they are able to meet everyone, have a better grasp on what each department does, become part of the team by building relationships and will be able to work more efficiently.

Provide avenues for feedback

Having avenues for feedback is key to creating an inclusive onboarding experience. By keeping multiple channels open (in person, check-in surveys, etc.), new hires can share their experiences and help improve your company's onboarding programme. Schedule informal check-ins for your new employees like grabbing coffee or lunch with their managers, teammates and heads of departments, and if possible, the leadership team. Setting up one-on-one lunches and meetings in the first few weeks tremendously helps new hires to integrate into the team, understand the working culture and the people they'll be collaborating with.

Invest in their career development

A lot of employees leave their current job when they don't see any career opportunities for them. By building career development into the onboarding process, you're demonstrating to new employees how they can contribute to your business while also advancing their career goals at the same time. Providing new hires with opportunities for growth such as platforms to showcase their ideas, cross-training and learning new skills helps them to progress in their careers and personal development. When new hires realise their companies are willing to provide them with learning opportunities, they'll feel more excited about their work, are motivated and productive, which leads to higher levels of employee engagement and retention.

Employee onboarding is an essential element to employee engagement and experience, as it increases employee retention and reduces turnover. Unfortunately, not many organisations realise the importance of good onboarding experience and how it affects the way your new employees view your company. With an inclusive onboarding experience, new hires will feel they made the right decision in joining your company and will not jump ship any time soon.