Effectively onboarding new employees is an essential, but often underappreciated process. Reportedly as little as 29% of new hires feel prepared in their new roles, which indicates many employers still lack suitable onboarding strategies.[1] Truly successful onboarding remains challenging for modern businesses, particularly in an era where 78% of employees are working either hybrid or remote.[2]

With such a large portion of the professional workforce still operating remotely, it is increasingly important that businesses approach onboarding holistically, in order to support employees personally and professionally. It would be a mistake to view employee onboarding as a process confined to the first few days of the workplace experience. With research indicating that businesses have an average of 44 days to convince new hires to commit to a role long-term; continuous, effective onboarding is shaping businesses’ ability to attract and retain top talent.[3]

Onboarding and the professional development of employees

While 50% of business executives prioritise talent recruitment as a crucial business priority, only 41% feel similarly about onboarding processes.[4] Today, a failure to properly onboard hybrid workers can lead to new hires feeling unsupported, which may cause them to reflect negatively on their new role. Research by HRGrapevine found that over 50% of employees claimed that a positive onboarding experience had encouraged them to go above and beyond in their role, but only 12% agreed strongly that their organisation does a great job onboarding new people.[5]

Businesses that wish to improve their ability to engage new hires require an interactive and personalised approach. One way of doing this is by placing a greater emphasis on professional development. Immediately flagging to new employees their opportunities for progression and feedback, as well as practising an “open-door” policy even when working remotely ensures that hybrid workers feel they are valued. With 94% of employees surveyed by LinkedIn over a period of five years claiming they would stay longer at a company that invested in their career, it is clear that a personalised approach to onboarding will benefit employee retention.[6]

New technology such as generative AI is becoming increasingly popular in the recruitment process. AI software can analyse the experience and skills of new hires, and easily direct them towards training modules that further support their unique development and aspirations. Further implementation of AI can further streamline the onboarding process, reduce the amount of paperwork, and get new employees acquainted with company protocol and data more efficiently. This reduces pressure on managers, who can use the time previously dedicated to the administrative side of onboarding to offer qualitative feedback and discuss the goals and ambitions of individual employees.

Employee onboarding and employee retention are linked processes, and they should be treated as such if businesses want to improve the effectiveness of their hybrid workforce and embrace this way of working.

Integrating with wider company culture

An onboarding strategy involves more than just investing in employees professionally, they must also feel personally supported and part of a wider company culture. More specifically, hybrid workers require more attention as they are often subject to developing mental health risks. Hubspot’s 2023 Hybrid Work Report concluded that over 66% of workers felt disconnected from their colleagues and experienced workplace isolation.[7] A proper onboarding experience must address such anxieties in pursuit of greater employee wellbeing and retention.

Addressing this requires solid plans to improve team cohesion. Formally, managers can mandate that employees come into the office on the same days, allowing new hires to get to know the wider team and integrate into the company culture. The set up of the office itself can support this, and flexible and serviced offices are helping businesses UK-wide to implement better working policies.

A modern and tailored office environment can provide features that can help businesses improve their onboarding experience. For instance, purpose-built collaborative workspaces allow new employees to interact with each other in smaller, less intimidating contexts. At our own Office Space in Town buildings, we host events and initiatives that encourage building members to get involved with their colleagues or other organisations in less formal contexts, strengthening their sense of belonging and satisfaction.

Equally, there’s an important informal element to onboarding hybrid employees. Ensuring that managers and team members engage in casual check-ins with new remote hires and offer to help them with their workload can play a pivotal role in preventing feelings of isolation among employees working remotely. This, in turn, contributes to the overall well-being of the workforce.

Effectively onboarding hybrid employees is challenging, but not impossible. With the rise of technology, such as AI during the hiring process, and greater flexibility in workspace design, businesses can create increasingly personalised onboarding strategies.

With 77% of Gen Z applicants willing to resign from a role that does not offer hybrid working, businesses need to ensure their onboarding strategies support remote and in-office employees alike.[8] Moving into 2024, we need to challenge the idea that employee onboarding is confined to the first day, or even the first month, of the employee experience. Robust employee onboarding must be part of a holistic and continuous strategy, to retain top talent and improve business outcomes.


[1] https://www.virtual-college.co.uk/resources/onboarding-in-the-hybrid-world

[2] https://quixy.com/blog/hybrid-workplace-statistics/

[3] https://www.hcamag.com/ca/specialization/recruitment/44-days-thats-how-long-employers-have-to-convince-a-new-employee-to-stay/462956

[4] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/hires-considering-quitting-within-first-130012472.html

[5] https://www.hrgrapevine.com/content/article/are-organisations-underrating-the-roi-of-employee-onboarding-personio

[6] https://corp.smartbrief.com/original/2023/11/building-a-culture-for-employee-retention-what-matters-most

[7] https://qz.com/two-thirds-of-workers-feel-disconnected-from-colleagues-1850518966

[8] https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/press-releases/articles/two-thirds-of-uk-gen-zs-and-millennials-opt-for-remote-and-hybrid-working.html

Niki Fuchs
Founder at Office Space in Town | Website | + posts

Niki Fuchs founded Office Space in Town back in 2009, alongside her brother Giles.  Since beginning less than 15 years ago, OSiT has established serviced, flexible offices across each of the UK capitals and now owns 100% of its portfolio. In July of last year, Niki took over from Giles as CEO of the company and in this new capacity hopes to steer the business into the future of flexible office space.