Sink or Swim? The Present Future of New Hire Onboarding


Cultural norms and standard business practices of the past dictated a different kind of employer-employee relationship. It was commonplace for an employee to stay with the same employer for 20+ years, if not an entire work lifetime. But today’s fast-paced and complex workplace demands a different type of relationship that relies heavily on a company’s ability to recruit, hire, and keep, great talent. Even with a high success rate, employees move frequently, and it’s estimated that a Millennial will have between 20-30 jobs in his/her lifetime.


Back in the olden days, it was expected that you could keep the job if you could “swim”. It was the idea of “prove yourself and figure it out.” Employers were a bit more authoritative in their leadership style with a “don’t question authority generation,” so a new employee either made it or didn’t, when an employer figuratively threw them into the work to either sink or swim. As culture, processes, and the workforce changed, business leadership and Human Resources technology had to adapt to a new workforce that suddenly realized that it has more power than it had previously utilized. The sink or swim mentality of the previous generation sunk like a lead balloon, and it came across to the new workforce as cavalier, and lacking compassion or concern for the wellbeing of the employee and his career. The outcome is that today, as soon as a new hire comes across this sink or swim mentality, he or she forms a negative impression of the business’ culture, and quickly leaves for another opportunity that provides more support.


This phenomenon in the global market has left companies scrambling for best practices in bringing new hires onboard. To recruit, hire, and train an employee, only for her to leave within a few months is costly to both the bottom line and the culture of the company. 45% of HR personnel estimate that ineffective employee onboarding costs in excess of $10,000 per year.


Today, great companies understand the essential need to effectively integrate a new hire into the culture, processes, and systems of their new job. Just as the employer-employee relationship has changed, so have the methods of integrating a new hire into a company. The days of mountainous paperwork and printed handbooks are considered the Stone Age in a fast-paced, ever changing landscape of the global workforce and workplace. Today’s new hire onboarding systems are online platforms that can be customized to ensure that a new hire is welcomed and trained by: communicating expectations, setting clear objectives, providing on-the-job training, and guiding the new hire through an immersion experience into the company’s culture. The right onboarding platform and systems can actually build and protect a company’s culture, while keeping up with the speed of business, and maintaining compliance.


A 2009 study by the Aberdeen Group of senior executives, HR staffing, and recruiting functions, found that 86% of respondents felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment. A whopping 4% of people reported leaving a job after a disastrous FIRST day!

Recent research found the following:

16% have quit within the first week.

17% have quit within the first 3 months

31% have quit within the first 6 months.


A study from the Wynhurst Group found that new hires who go through a structured onboarding program are 58% more likely to stay with the company more than 3 years. Aberdeen Group also finds that “77% of Best-in-Class organizations begin the onboarding process before day one.”

If you want to retain top talent, protect your culture, save money, and bring your new hires to financial productivity with a long-term forecast, invest and take Xenqu in your new hire onboarding process. It can be the difference between sinking…and swimming.