How Long Should Employee Onboarding Last?

Are You Wasting Time During Onboarding?

Onboarding isn’t just about giving new employees a handbook full of rules to learn by heart and a stack of papers to fill. It’s about preparing them and the company for long-term success, and this is why it’s important to get it right. However, how are you sure you’re not spending too much time and resources? What if you’re keeping it too short, wasting your new hires’ potential, or too long, wasting their precious time? In other words, how long should employee onboarding last? The answers depend on multiple factors. But rest assured that there are benefits both in short and lengthy onboarding processes. Below, we’ll explore everything around onboarding process duration and let you choose what’s best for your team.

Common Onboarding Phases


Preboarding begins once the candidate has accepted the job offer. Your goal here is to make new employees feel welcomed and excited about joining the team. So, what exactly happens during preboarding? First, there’s the paperwork to take care of. Getting all the necessary documents filled out and signed before the first day can save a lot of time and stress for everyone involved. Then it’s all about communication. A welcome email or a call from their new manager can go a long way in making new hires feel appreciated. Lastly, it’s about preparation. It’s important to give new hires a clear idea of what to expect on their first day and let them know if there’s any reading or training they need to do beforehand.


During orientation, employees learn about the company’s history, mission, values, and culture. It’s like watching a documentary (which sometimes they actually do) about what makes the company unique and why everyone is there. Newcomers also get to meet their colleagues in a relaxed setting, usually through fun activities or team meals, which helps them get to know each other better. They also go over practical information like employee handbooks, company policies, and setting up their work tools. It’s also a good opportunity for new hires to ask questions and get settled.


In the training phase, new employees dive into the ins and outs of their jobs. They learn not just how to do tasks but also about the tools, processes, and expectations they’ll need to navigate. It’s a mix of hands-on practice and absorbing information, with a combination of formal training sessions and learning on the job. So, why is training so important? Well, it sets the tone for everything that comes next. When done well, it makes employees feel confident and productive right from the start. The more interactive and engaging the training, the more successful it will be, giving your new team members the knowledge and skills they need to thrive.

Reasons To Extend The Employee Onboarding Program

Enhanced Onboarding Experience

Starting a new job can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re hit with a ton of information all at once. It can be a lot to handle, right? Taking it slow during the onboarding process really helps new employees get a better grasp of everything, thus enhancing their experience. They can take their time to understand the company’s values, culture, and what’s expected of them without feeling overwhelmed. This also gives them more chances to ask questions, get clarity, and slowly build up their confidence. Plus, it allows them to bond with their coworkers, which is highly important for teamwork and morale.

Better Employee Retention

Expanding the employee onboarding program can make a big difference in keeping employees around. When your hires have more time to get to know the company, they feel less stressed and more at ease. This connects them with the culture, allowing them to adjust much quicker. A longer onboarding process helps employees better understand their roles and the company’s values and build stronger relationships with their peers and management. Integrating them like that makes them more likely to stay because they feel appreciated, ultimately leading to a happier workforce.

Continuous Learning Environment

Not rushing through your onboarding process can create strong foundations for a continuous learning environment. Apart from helping new employees ease into their roles, it also allows them to gradually build their skills and knowledge. This adds something extra to your company culture: learning. Once they realize that you prioritize that, your new hires will start growing and improving. Additionally, you’ll have room for more in-depth training sessions that take your employees further into their roles and responsibilities and encourage them to focus on their growth.

Company Success

All the above can only lead to one thing: company success. When employees are well-prepared to embark on their new journey in your company and feel they are valued members of your team, they’re more likely to contribute their skills and expertise to the best of their ability. As time goes on, this makes for a highly productive workforce that is satisfied with their jobs and less likely to seek an opportunity elsewhere. Extensive training reduces errors, too. The projects and overall work results are of higher quality, making your customers happy and your success secure.

7 Key Factors Influencing The Duration Of Onboarding

1. Role Description

What someone does in their role plays a huge part in determining how much time they need to acclimate to a new job. If their position is well-defined, like a data analyst, they already know what to do and may only need a few weeks to get up to speed. On the other hand, if someone is a project manager, they need more time to understand various processes and systems.

2. Organizational Complexity

The level of a company’s complexity can affect how long onboarding lasts. In a smaller company, one person may have to fill multiple roles and take over lots of tasks. So, they must complete onboarding quickly in order to begin as soon as possible, which makes the process short. Bigger companies, though, have specialized roles, many departments, and various processes, requiring a longer onboarding program to ensure everyone is fully prepared.

3. Onboarding Platforms

Modern onboarding platforms make the process much easier, as they allow you to automate most of the tasks. Onboarding software usually entails interactive training courses, document management features, resource libraries, and other tools that allow both HR professionals and new hires to keep track of everything. Additionally, with the ability to personalize the onboarding program, you’re shortening the time new employees need to enroll.

4. Remote Vs. On-Site Hiring

It makes sense for new hires to have a completely different onboarding experience depending on the place they work from. With remote workers, for example, the onboarding preparation involves software, digital tools, and virtual meetings. While this is efficient, it may be harder for them to build connections and experience the company culture firsthand. So, if you’re hiring remotely, make sure you find the perfect balance.

5. Tech And Infrastructure

If your company uses the latest technology and already has the infrastructure needed for fancy digital tools and software to help with onboarding, it’s smooth sailing for you. You can automate most of the onboarding process, from paperwork to training, and speed everything up. However, if your company isn’t up to date with technology, the onboarding process might take a little longer. In that case, you can consult with experts who can help you navigate the tech challenges and find a smooth way to help new hires acclimate.

6. Training-Focused Guidance

The duration of the onboarding depends on how much training your new hires need, as well. For instance, if their role is complex, it makes sense for the process to take longer as they get comfortable learning specialized skills. In any case, remember to give employees plenty of time to find their rhythm with their tasks and responsibilities. You don’t want them to rush into onboarding and make errors that can be costly. Focus on guiding them through training that’s tailored to their role and helping them prepare as well as possible.

7. Employee Engagement

If you want your onboarding to be quick and effective, then spark your new hires’ interests. Engaged employees tend to grasp information on the spot and get comfortable in their new roles faster. Think about it: if your new employees feel welcomed and supported from the moment they step foot in the company, they’ll feel more excited to learn. But if they feel confused and bored, they’ll quickly lose interest, and the process will take longer.


Although experts say that onboarding should last from three to six months, there isn’t a standard answer. Each company and each employee are different, and even the same role may not include similar responsibilities in every organization. So, the best you can do is customize the employee onboarding process according to the company’s and new hires’ needs and try out different methods. Then, it’s up to you to decide the duration of the program based on the above factors.

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