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The Key Metric of New Employee Onboarding  

We’ve all heard many times that there is a correlation between implementing a structured new employee onboarding program and reducing turnover. While improving retention and driving turnover down is an objective of any organization, to establish reduction in turnover as the key metric of a new employee onboarding program is somewhat like saying the reason we want to drive from New York to Los Angeles in a hybrid is to save gas. The principle goal is to get safely and efficiently to Los Angeles: saving gas is a byproduct of how we make the journey.

An improvement to turnover—like saving gas—is really a byproduct of a great employee onboarding program. The true objective of an employee onboarding initiative is simple and direct, from which a drop in turnover will be a byproduct. The goal, and therefore the key metric, of any employee onboarding initiative should be to reduce the time it takes to get the new employee productive in their new role. Let’s break this metric down a bit.

All work takes some amount of time, and time is measured simply from a starting point to a finishing point. In the case of onboarding, the starting point might be the start date or it might be the date the offer is accepted. The ending point is when the employee has demonstrated both mastery of skills and an acclimation to their new role and new company. This demonstration might be a very objective assessment, such as passing a test, or it might be the subjective assessment of their manager and coworkers.

Time to productivity will vary widely based on role. It can be achieved more quickly for lower skilled workers than for higher skilled workers. Whether the measure is in hours or days, the measure is always a measure of time. And if we’re going to demonstrate and improve the effectiveness of our onboarding program, we have to measure it before and during our implementation of the program and regularly thereafter.

All aspects of the onboarding process should contribute to speeding an employee to productivity. This key metric is so pervasive that it is, in fact, the principle measure of whether an activity should be included in an onboarding program. From making tax and benefits forms as simple and easily completed as possible to ensuring the speedy provisioning and enablement of employees, all components of the program, transactional or accultural, should meet this simple litmus test.

Saving gas in our road trip example was just a byproduct of the real goal of getting from New York to Los Angeles. Similarly, turnover is merely a byproduct of a great employee onboarding program. Just like there are a number of ways to save gas on that cross-country drive—such as picking the optimal route, keeping the tires properly inflated, and keeping the engine running in tip-top shape—there are many ways to reduce turnover. The goal of a great onboarding program should be productive employees, which in turn reduces turnover.

Camden Delta Consulting’s talent acquisition and onboarding strategy consulting can help you implement a world-class new employee onboarding program that minimizes time to productivity.


Camden Delta is a leading human capital management consulting firm specializing in workforce planning, talent acquisition and management effectiveness, leadership development and organizational change management. Camden Delta collaborates with clients and equips them to find better ways to facilitate effective organizational change.

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