Trend Toward Personalization and How It Affects Onboarding

Deloitte’s Consumer Product Trends cites personalization as a key consumer trend as we move toward 2020. As Marta Chmielowicz notes in her Human Resources Today post, the same personalization that customers are coming to expect in their personal life is also expected at the workplace. What does that mean for an organization’s onboarding practices? Let’s start with onboarding in general.

What it is; what it isn’t

The terms “onboarding” and “orientation” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Orientation is just the beginning and includes communicating with new hires between job acceptance and Day 1, providing required forms and time to complete them, making sure everything needed to do their job is ready when they arrive, and welcoming them to the organization. Orientation is the first step in the comprehensive process of onboarding.

As we know, onboarding is an ongoing experience that unfolds over a long period of time. It may be months or even a year. Whatever the time frame and methods used, it immerses new hires into company culture, connects them with their team, provides mentoring, and helps them see how their work contributes to broader efforts and organizational goals.

The Onboarding process is related to employee engagement and retention down the road. Numbers show it often isn’t done well:

  • Nearly 1 in 10 employees left their company because of their negative onboarding experience.
  • 68% of employees believe their experience as a candidate reflects how the company treats its people
  • 67% of employers say almost 25% of new hires don’t show up after accepting a position
  • 29% of employees don’t think their organization prepared them well for day one on the job.
  • 37% of employees don’t think their manager played an important role in their onboarding experience.
  • 51% of employees expect HR to check in with them regularly during their first year.

Source: State of Recruiting and Onboarding Report

How to personalize onboarding

Long-term onboarding offers a number of opportunities for personalization.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Frequent check-ins—these are helpful, but only if the managers or direct supervisors are good at listening and taking time to hear and respond to the individual’s questions. It’s not just a “Hey, how’ya doing” walk-by.
  • Requests for employee feedback—ask about the orientation and onboarding process. Are there improvements that could be made?
  • Connection to the big picture—communicate organizational mission and values and help new employees see how their work contributes to organization’s initiatives and long-term goals.
  • Personal career planning—providing this early helps employees set goals and see themselves as a valued part of the team with a future at the organization. Specific goals and milestones help new workers gauge success and see where to focus as they settle in.
  • Relevant training or coursework—willingness to invest in opportunities that will equip them with new skills and knowledge lets employees know they matter. The agreed upon learning path should take into consideration current skills and experience of each individual and their learning-style preference and pace.
  • Appropriate recognition—one size doesn’t fit all. Whenever possible, provide recognition that fits the employee’s preferences and personality. It shows that you’ve taken time to notice and get to know him or her as an individual as well as a valuable part of the team. For example, don’t embarrass an introvert with a big public announcement.


A great onboarding experience is good for the organization as well as for new hires. It helps attract and keep top-notch talent. It contributes to creating an engaged workforce. As the numbers at the top of this article reflect, in a historically low unemployment environment, job seekers are more likely to look for a new position than to stay in one they find unsatisfactory. More personalized onboarding needn’t be expensive to have important ramifications for an organization.

Can we help?

Delphia Consulting developed the Sage endorsed solution Sage HRSM HR Actions that contributes to a smooth onboarding experience by providing web-based forms that can be completed anywhere at your new hire’s convenience. Numerous plugins for HR Actions that extend the benefits of paperless forms throughout the employee lifecycle are also available.

Discover a paperless HR that will continue to make your employee’s experience a positive one long after they’ve completed your onboarding process.

Give us a call at 888.421.2004 or use the CONTACT SALES button on our website. We’re happy to listen to your needs and respond with a solution that could be just what you’re looking for. You can also visit our Sage HRMS HR Actions web page or attend a webinar to learn more.

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Mary van Balen
Mary van Balen
Technical Writer at Delphia Consulting
Mary van Balen is based out of Columbus, Ohio and is a writer for Delphia Consulting. Mary contributes to the Delphia blog on Human Resources issues and Delphia Consulting and Sage product related updates.