Why Your Startup Needs an Effective Onboarding Strategy to Retain Top Talent

The success of a startup depends on the first batch of talent they hire. But more than hiring, it is the retention that often becomes a bigger issue as startups fail to keep hold of talent.

For your startup to succeed, you need to make sure that you not only hire the right people, but also have employee retention strategies in place. This is where onboarding comes into play.

Do Startups Even Need an Onboarding Strategy?

As mentioned earlier, startups are renowned for their poor employee retention rates. Just as you are evaluating your new recruits, they are also evaluating your startup (to know if it makes sense to work in the long run).

Your new recruits need to quickly learn about the company, what it does, its policies and business operations so that they can perform. Without an onboarding strategy in place, they will be clueless about even the most basic structure of your startup.

New hires should know about the role they are going to play in the company. At the same time, they must feel welcomed which is only possible if you have an onboarding plan. Naturally, when they feel that they belong, they’ll become more productive.

As a startup, you must remember that the first few days is your last chance to impress the new recruits. With an onboarding strategy in place, your new recruits will have a chance to know about your company culture, the work you do, and how they can contribute and make a difference.

What If You Don’t Have an Onboarding Strategy?

The first issue you will face is low productivity. If your new recruits take a lot of time to adjust and learn the ropes, they will take longer time to deliver, which, in turn, can hurt your revenues.

When the new recruits are not told what is expected of them from the get-go, it will lead to a dip in performance. This is why even after hiring candidates with excellent resumes and credentials, startups don’t get the desired results.

If you must know, the rate at which new recruits leave within the first year is much higher for startups without an onboarding plan. New hires won’t feel attached to the company and even lack the motivation. Such dangerous levels of low morale can affect even those who are driven over a period of time.

Finally, when they decide to walk out, they may feel betrayed. To get back at you, they will paint a bad picture about your brand. And soon enough, all the negative chatter will spread like wildfire and damage your reputation. Needless to say, your startup will eventually struggle to attract new talent.

What Is a Good Onboarding Strategy for Startups?

Onboarding is not a one-day process. A well-defined onboarding strategy should encompass the following 3 phases.

Phase 1: After you offer the joining letter and before the new employee joins

This phase — after all the necessary paperwork is completed — can involve anything from sharing an email about your founder’s vision, to setting up an official (comany) email ID for them. If the new hire needs to sign something, this is where it must be completed.

Phase 2: The first day of joining

The rule of thumb is that you should never let your new recruits join on a Monday because most people are occupied. It is best to let them start on a Tuesday or a Wednesday around 11 AM so that the sole focus is on welcoming them. Their workstations should be ready and anyone from the team, or better yet, their supervisor, should be the one rolling out the red carpet.

Phase 3: The first two weeks or first month of joining

This is the time to show your new recruits what they’ll be doing. A mentor (or buddy) system works very well during this period. Train them, share tutorials during this period, or let them shadow their colleagues so that they familiarise themselves with the work detail. Assign small tasks initially and check in mid-week to track their progress, and to know how they are adjusting.

How Long Should Onboarding Last?

It depends on the size of your startup and the number of people you are hiring. Generally, a 2 to 3-week onboarding strategy works well for most startups. But ensure that you let your new recruits know about the software (tools) your startup uses, and share additional resources, such as PPTs, on their first day so that they can seamlessly integrate into your company.



  1. Is onboarding necessary?
    Yes, onboarding is necessary for your startup as it will help your new recruits learn about the job, get attached to the company culture and more.
  2. Who handles the onboarding process?
    If you have a dedicated HR in your company, it will be their responsibility to create and implement the onboarding process. You can also hire an onboarding specialist if you don’t have an in-house HR team, or if your startup has grown in size.
  3. How long should the onboarding strategy be in place?
    Ideally, it should start right after you have recruited new employees and run till at least a month after their joining date. Some bigger companies carry out onboarding for upto 90 days after induction.

Shalini L

One of the prime contributors for this blog, Expertise in Staffing and Recruitment, Content Strategist by Profession. A Music Lover & Traveller by Choice.

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