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It is currently difficult to find an organization that does not offer new hires support during the adaptation period. Everyone agrees – onboarding is needed, preferably within a formal framework. Differences appear in the approach to the adaptation process. In some companies, the circulation of documents is crucial, in others aspects of organizational culture and socialization of the new employee. Regardless of the adopted model , SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding supports all stakeholders of the process: new hires, HR specialists, managers and administrators.

At a time when everyone competes for talent, onboarding should pursue two goals:

  1. fulfill the promises made to the candidate during the recruitment process;

  2. make the new employee involved from the first day of work and achieve the desired efficiency relatively quickly.

In other words, ideal adaptation should maintain a high level of satisfaction and even sometimes excitement of the employees and at the same time efficiently prepare them for a new role in our organization.


A number of studies conducted in 2022 unfortunately paint a rather unfavorable picture of onboarding offered by companies. Here are the results of several of them:

  • According to Gallup, only 12% of employees agree that onboarding has been done well in their case, and 88% are not satisfied with the adaptation. The study shows that we cannot become self-admired about our onboarding processes and should use surveys to ask new hires about the adaptation period. Recruited employees will tell you what we do well and what we can improve.

  • According to Digitate, one in five new hires is unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend or family member after experiencing onboarding. Employee referrals are one of the most desirable sources of employment (they are faster and cheaper). The fact that 20% of new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer presents us with a challenge that we should take up first.

  • 58% of organizations say their adaptation programs focus on paper-based procedures and documentation (Human Capital Institute). In the context of this survey, it is not surprising that only 12% of employees believe that their organization performs onboarding well (Gallup). More than half of companies build their adaptation process primarily on document circulation, placing less emphasis on development, rapid socialization and employee satisfaction.

 There is good information!

In 2022, we received a number of answers to the question: Why do we need good onboarding? These are not new discoveries, but nothing is more convincing than numbers:

  • Good onboarding can increase retention by as much as 82% (Brandon Hall Group). What is "good onboarding" according to the respondents? It is one that lasts more than a few weeks, uses technology, provides e-learning tools, includes mentors and coaches, and facilitates socialization.

  • Talent shortage and high turnover will long be on the list of the biggest challenges organizations face. Hence, it is extremely important to work on employee engagement from the first day of engagement (and even before the first day).

  • According to the Talent Board, getting feedback from a new hire improves their relationship with their employer by 91%.  It turns out that when employers ask for feedback, new employees are more likely to strengthen their relationship with the company. This is crucial for a long-term increase in retention. The new hire perceives it this way: they ask for my opinion, they take my opinion into account, so I am important to them.

  • The Gallup survey showed that addressing employee development in onboarding increases employee satisfaction 3.5 times.  The lack of prospects for development is still the main reason why people leave their jobs. Employees who have a clear career plan are 3.5 times more likely to agree that their adaptation process was unique.

What should the perfect onboarding look like?

We already know the importance of onboarding for employee satisfaction, engagement and readiness to support recruitment. So what should an effective adaptation process look like? The answer is worth looking for in the report "Onboarding new employees: maximizing success" prepared by Talya Bauer, studying adaptation processes as part of a research team from Portland State University in Oregon. The study identifies a number of good practices:

  • Start onboarding before the first day of work;

  • Make your first day at work special;

  • Use formal adaptation programs;

  • Make onboarding participatory;

  • Make sure your program is implemented consistently;

  • Make sure that the program is monitored over time;

  • Use technology to support the process;

  • Set checkpoints such as the 30th, 60th, 90th, and 120th day at work to check the progress of employees;

  • Involve process stakeholders in planning;

  • Include key stakeholder meetings within the program;

  • Clearly specify to the new hire: goals, deadlines/time frames, roles, responsibilities.

It is difficult to imagine the effective implementation of the above activities without the use of technology. SAP's proposal – SuccessFactors Onboarding – supports all stakeholders of the process: new hires, HR specialists, managers and administrators.

Experience of a new hire

Talya Bauer in her report emphasizes the importance of a quick start of onboarding. The candidate, after accepting our offer, and before the first day of work, should be gradually involved in the life of the organization. If we do not start onboarding at such an early stage, there is a risk that the person we have been striving for in the recruitment process will change his/her mind and accept the offer of another company. In addition, it is worth using this time to familiarize the candidates with our values, team, show them what the first days at work will look like, and get additional information from them that will improve the adaptation process ( preparation of documents, referral for medical examinations, organization of the place and work tools). Many companies operate according to the maxim "from yes to desk" and start adaption immediately after accepting the offer (preonboarding).

SuccessFactors allows you to provide the candidate (who accepted the offer) with a home page containing including:

  • a welcome message,

  • useful information about our organization,

  • access to documents with the possibility of digital signature,

  • information about the team, mentors, with the option of contacting selected people,

  • short-term goals,

  • a link to the survey (additional Qualtrics licenses required).

On the first day of work, the external user of SuccessFactors Onboarding is automatically converted to an employee and his start page can be enriched with additional functions and tasks related to adaptation.

HR specialist experience

Adaptation design and monitoring is most often the domain of HR departments. In some organizations, the role of an onboarding specialist is distinguished, which further reinforces the message about the importance of the process.

A key tool provided by SuccessFactors for this role is a dashboard that provides insight into all tasks in the process. From this level, we can monitor the status of individual steps and intervene in the event of delays or failure to meet standards.

Manager's experience

The manager, as the initiator of recruitment and the future supervisor of the employed person, is by definition a key person in the onboarding process. Unfortunately, in reality, he lacks time, and sometimes experience in introducing new employees. Technology comes to the rescue. SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding guides the manager through the next steps of the process, reminds about tasks and proposes ready-made solutions (welcome message patterns, agenda of first meetings, recommended links, etc.). Often the tasks of the manager include:

  • recommending contact persons to the newly hired – usually these are employees who are helpful in selected areas (technology, communication, processes, etc.);

  • ordering work tools (office space, computer, telephone, etc.);

  • setting short-term goals;

  • recommending documents or links;

  • scheduling the first meetings;

  • Prepare a welcome message.

SuccessFactors will remind you of the deadlines for these tasks and propose how to implement them.

HR director experience

For the HR director, the answer to the question is crucial: Is our onboarding effective? This is where SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics comes in handy, which in particular will allow you to assess the impact of changes in the onboarding process on employee effectiveness and retention.

In addition to operational data, data related to experience (commitment, opinions of the new  hires about the effectiveness of the manager, satisfaction with the training experience, well-being) are extremely important – such information, although more ephemeral, is also available within the organisation  (surveys, periodic assessments).

Analysis of this data will allow the HR decision-maker to change the onboarding process accordingly. This is what Qualtrics tools are for, which allow you to correlate operational data with information from employees (surveys) and, as a result, identify problems in HR processes, including onboarding.

SAP Best Practices

The starting point for the implementation of the solution may be the SAP Best Practices for SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding. It is one of the three pillars of SAP Activate (the others are guided configurations and methodology), including preconfigured onboarding processes, documentation and test scripts. Customers receive an immediately working solution that can be the basis for defining organization-specific adaptation processes.

Not only onboarding

SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding can support other "transition" processes, in particular:

  • crossboarding (internal transfer of the employee),

  • offboarding,

  • re-employment (return of the employee).

For each of these processes, as for onboarding, you need to plan tasks for various stakeholders, monitor their implementation and finally verify and evaluate the results.

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