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Onboarding Programs Require Clear Expectations on Progress, Realistic Timelines for Adapting to New Role

Sep 12, 2012 | HANOVER, MD | For media inquiries, please contact us at

HANOVER, MD – September  12, 2012 – TEKsystems®, a leading provider of IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services, polled more than 2,100 IT professionals and more than 1,500 IT leaders to explore employer and employee experiences with onboarding programs.

What are expected timelines for new hire progress?
According to the research findings, IT leaders and IT professionals have some different expectations around how quickly a new employee should progress through an onboarding program. Just 17% of IT leaders believe it should take less than a month for a new hire to become productive in their role, while 34% of IT professionals say they expect to be productive in the first month. Also, 27% of IT professionals believe they could learn their role well enough in three months to teach it to someone else – just 9% of IT leaders agree. Building relationships presents another area of difference. More than half, 51%, of IT professionals believe it should take less than a month to build relationships with team members compared to 35% of IT leaders.

“It is critical for employers to set clear expectations for a new hire’s progress in terms of producing, learning their role and building relationships. Failure to set these expectations and foster an environment of team building can lead to employee frustration, and possibly attrition,” says TEKsystems Director, Rachel Russell. “Employees sometimes think they should know more than they actually should in a given amount of time, so practical timelines are key to setting sensible expectations. Employers need to listen too because new hires want to start building relationships immediately – having the support of fellow team members is essential to a successful onboarding.”

How long should an onboarding program last?
Regardless of the new hire’s career level, whether it be entry level, mid-level or high level, most onboarding programs run between one and two months. However, 33% of IT leaders report that onboarding programs for entry level workers last only one week and 22% say high level worker’s onboarding programs also are one week.

“It’s important for employers to consider if the timelines laid out within onboarding programs are realistic. For example, it will take an entry level hire longer to adapt to a new role and company culture because they likely haven’t navigated a professional working environment before. Comparatively, experienced, senior level workers tend to already have the competency in what they were hired to do, but may need more time to assimilate to a new company culture,” states Russell. “Setting realistic timelines benefits both the employee and employer because the new hire is able to fully adjust and take in all the information being given to them.”

How do you measure onboarding success?
Leveraging a variety of metrics allows an employer to gauge performance of the new hire as well as the program. The top three methods for tracking onboarding results include formal check-ins/evaluations with a manager, informal check-ins by a manager and new hire surveys. More than a third, 35%, of IT leaders say formal check-ins/evaluations are the most utilized. For IT professionals, 29% indicate informal check-ins by their manager is the top way to measure the onboarding program.

“Ultimately, if a new hire does not work out it is hard to decipher if the employee did not do enough or if the manager was not as involved as they should be. Onboarding programs are not meant to identify the person to blame for a new hire not working out. The goal is to establish a sense of mutual responsibility where both the employer and employee are putting in maximum effort to ensure the individual, team and company all benefit from that employee being a part of the organization,” concludes Russell.

About TEKsystems

People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. At TEKsystems, an Allegis Group company, we understand people. Every year we deploy more than 80,000 IT professionals at 6,000 client sites across North America, Europe and Asia. Our deep insights into IT human capital management enable us to help our clients achieve their business goals–while optimizing their IT workforce strategies. We provide IT staffing solutions and IT services to help our clients plan, build and run their critical business initiatives. Through our range of quality-focused delivery models, we meet our clients where they are, and take them where they want to go, the way they want to get there.