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How to Add Employee Recognition Into Your Onboarding Process

May 22, 2019

Welcoming a new employee can be an exciting time for your team, especially if added talent enables your team to meet deliverables more efficiently. As a new employee begins the onboarding process and learns more about their role and the company, integrating recognition into the mix might not be top of mind for managers and peers. Understanding the ways in which recognition conveys when a new employee is making progress, and positively reinforces company values, is important.

Acclimating to a new job takes time but adding small doses of recognition can help your newest employee start seeing themselves as a member of the team and feel empowered to make valuable contributions. A little recognition also can go a long way in making an employee feeling like they made the right decision to join your team.

Here’s ways to add recognition to each stage of an employee’s first year with your organization:

First day

As your new employee begins their first day on the job, they are likely eager (and a little nervous) to be joining the team. While this is an exciting time, the impressions an employee develops in the first days and weeks on the job create a significant perception. Even as new employees are getting settled in, 33 percent of employees determine within the first week whether they’ll stay in their role over the long run. [1]

31 percent of new workers who quit within the first six months cite the following reasons: [2]

  • Discrepancy between job description and actual role
  • Poor management
  • Mismatch of corporate culture
  • Ineffective onboarding

Ideally, a new employee’s onboarding should start prior to their arrival (setting up office computers, software accounts, server access, etc.). While an employee’s first day will be filled with signing paperwork and reviewing employee handbooks, it should also include being welcomed by members of their direct team and fellow co-workers.

Ahead of an employee’s arrival, a manager can send out an email to the direct team and key cross-department co-workers requesting that they send a welcome message on the company’s recognition software system or via email so that the new employee feels accepted by the team from the start. It’s also a nice touch to add a personalized sign, some company swag and a signed welcome aboard note from the team placed on a new employee’s desk when they arrive on their first day.

First 30 - 60 days

By now, a new employee is taking on assignments and likely meeting some initial deliverables that were set for their role. For many companies, the official onboarding process likely ended within the first few weeks, but there are still many company processes and knowledge that a new employee is still getting familiar with. As such, there’s still opportunity to continue guiding a new employee as they acclimate to the company.

This is also a great time to check in and review a new employee’s role and deliverables, so far. Recognize their wins and talk through any roadblocks they’ve been facing to find possible solutions and continue to outline role-related expectations. This is also a great chance to learn more about how your employee prefers to be recognized and rewarded. For example, an employee who values spending free time with their family may like a gift card to a casual restaurant to take the family out to dinner on a weekend. Or an employee who enjoys traveling might appreciate points that can be put towards purchasing tickets for events at their next destination.

Encourage peer-to-peer recognition (and awarding points when applicable) from co-workers who have been helped directly or have seen positive outcomes as a result of a new employee’s contributions. This can be done through verbal acknowledgment or socially through a recognition platform.

First 90 days

In this time frame, your newest employee is still getting settled in their role and continuing the projects that will lead to their initial successes. It’s also in these first few months when new employees and employers are determining whether this is the right fit.

During this initial stage, recognition can play an integral part of the onboarding process. When a new employee meets or exceeds a deliverable or represents positive company values it’s important to respond in a way that reinforces that they are on track. This can be acknowledged on the spot during team meetings or in one-on-one conversations via email or during weekly check-ins. This reinforces positive actions and allows your new employee to feel that their work is valued.

A successful and organized onboarding processes can deliver significant ROI:

  • 69 percent of employees who experienced a great onboarding process reported being more likely to stay with a company for at least 3 years.
  • 58 percent of new employees who participated in a structured onboarding program were more likely to remain with an organization after 3 years.
  • New hires are 50 percent more productive when they participate in a standard onboarding process. [3]

First 6 months

In this phase, your employee is likely meeting initial goals, making progress on longer-term projects and feeling more at home on your team. This is an important time to outline key role milestones and initiatives that you would want them to work towards. This ensures that a new employee feels focused and helps gauge if the workload needs to be adjusted accordingly.

This can also keep good employees committed to your organization, as 90 percent of employees decided whether they would like to continue with a company within the first six months. [4]

First year

A new employee’s first year can fly by quickly, as they continue to meet milestones, take on new projects, and possibly new responsibilities. This is a critical time to keep an employee as engaged as they were when they first started onboarding. Nearly 82 percent of new employees are engaged in their new role, but that number decreases to 74.8 percent by their second year. [5]

To keep your employee engaged and excited about what’s ahead, now is the time to acknowledge all that an employee has accomplished in their first year by setting a formal review and discussing goals for the coming year. This is also a great chance to celebrate their first anniversary with the company in a way that resonates with the honoree. This can include taking the team out for lunch (or after work) to celebrate your employee’s first year with the organization or awarding points that can be redeemed for a gift that resonates with them.

In all, onboarding is an ongoing process that can truly benefit a new employee in not only getting up to speed and making contributions quickly, but it also gives them a great sense of the organization’s culture. By incorporating recognition into your onboarding program, your new employees will also gain a sense of belonging, emulate company values and contribute to the team and company culture in beneficial ways.


[1] Center for Generational Kinetics, Is There Really a Generational Divide at Work?, 2015.

[2] Bamboo HR, What People Really Want from Onboading, 2018.

[3] SHRM, Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Good Onboarding, 2017.

[4] SHRM, Onboarding Key to Retaining, Engaging Talent, 2015.

[5] Sapling HR, 10 Employee Onboarding Statistics You Must Know in 2019, 2019.

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