Creating The Perfect Recruitment On Boarding Process

Blog post by Colm Hannon, Managing Director, eSocial Media

Our most recent Direct Resourcing Think Tank was hosted by Sara Philp from British Airways and the recruitment topic was On Boarding. Nothing to do with boarding flights but rather how to on board people into jobs and into your organisation. The event was well attended with recruitment leaders from Tesco, Vodafone, Chartis, Eurostar, Serco, Ladbrokes, Expedia, TK Maxx, Currys, Gilead, BP, Foxtons, Home Retail Group, Mitie, Three Mobile, Accenture, Quicktec and Logica. 

Sara Philp lead off with a very insightful 10 minute presentation about where BA were on their journey towards the perfect on boarding process and described on boarding as: 'The integration of new colleagues into an organisation preparing them to succeed in their job and to become fully engaged and productive.'

BA forecasted to recruit at least 2,500 this year from 34,000 employees where 58% of their new hires in the last 12 months were Gen Y and 10% of colleagues are under 30. So as you can imagine the area of on boarding is an important one.


Sara shared some research that they had undertaken looking at on boarding at other companies and some of the highlights were:


•  90% of employees make a decision to stay in the first 6 months

•  A third of managers will fail in their jobs in the first 18 months

•  Failure of successful transition costs x 1.5 to 5 times annual salary

•  Generation Y expects 5 – 7 career changes compared to baby boomers wanting 2-3 so on boarding is becoming more and more important


Time to reach full productivity on average


•  24-26 weeks for execs

•  8-22 weeks for professionals

•  8-12 for administrators


Sara said that some of the most important elements of on boarding were:


For employees to to feel welcome, feel valued, be engaged with their role and the company and have the information and support to be productive as soon as possible.


Sara also complimented Bersin and Associates who are consultants in the on boarding process who had helped them learn what best companies do like:



·         Automate processes

·         Customise program's where appropriate

·         Recognise that line managers are key to success

·         Give visibility to new hires within the team or organisation

·         Provide networking opportunities online (social media) and offline

·         Extend the on boarding experience into the first 6 months

·         Best companies have someone dedicated to Onboarding experience

·         Introduce measures of success



Interesting comments and insights from the group


·         If you want money to invest in on boarding you need to understand the value of on boarding to the business. For example what would the increase in revenue be if you could get sales people up and running in a month instead of three months? What would happen if due to on boarding, less good people left in the first year? What would happen to your company brand and employer brand if new starters told all their friends and colleagues how great the experience was? What is the impact of on boarding in terms of time, money and brand? How much is it worth investing in on boarding? What is the cost of a bad on boarding system and what does good and bad look like?

·         Consistency and simplicity of process was a priority for the volume recruiters but with the more complex businesses the on boarding processes need to be tailored to the level and expertise of employee. One size does not fit all and the on boarding process should be adapted to your talent and your culture.

·         Self-service and automation should be used where there is no value add to not having them automated but where there is value to human interaction then the human touch should not be lost. There should be a balance between automation and the personal experience.

·         Getting line managers to buy in to the process and own much of the process is key. One DRTT member had a checklist of things the line managers had to do for new starters and if new starters left prematurely they would review whether the line managers had done their part in the on boarding process. There was a direct link between managers on boarding well and new starters staying in their role. Another member said their on boarding project last year was not a success because they couldn’t manage to change their managers’ behaviour.

·         One member said that KPI’s should be introduced for line managers but that a business case would have to come first in order for that to be enforced by leadership.

·         You must consider culture when creating an on boarding process. In Italy one pharma business recognised the importance of the general manager meeting the new starter and handing them the relevant documents. This personal touch could have easily been extracted from the process based on efficiency but it had a huge cultural impact for new starters and made them feel welcome and valued.

·         Measuring the candidate experience and asking for candidate feedback on the whole hiring and on boarding experience is a simple process that few companies do. It’s a simple exercise that employers can learn a lot from.

·         A multigenerational approach is important. Understand your audience.

·         It is important to capitalise the interest, involvement and excitement between offer and start. Some of the members were ex agency recruiters and talked of techniques used to get the spouse or family excited about them working for the company at the offer stage.

·         Somebody in your organisation needs to own on boarding and somebody in senior leadership needs to sponsor it. That will only happen if there is a value attached to it and that will only happen if you create a business case explaining the value of on boarding. Once you have someone to run on boarding you should map your process and based on candidate feedback get a good balance between automation and the personal touch.


This was another excelent Direct Resourcing Think Tank event and kindly hosted by BA if you the Head of Resourcing for a FTSE 500 company then you can apply to attend the DRTT. For more information about the next DRTT click here

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