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Bad onboarding a deal breaker for 7 in 10 employees and SMEs are suffering

Almost three quarters of Australians (71%) would be put off staying in a business if they had a bad onboarding experience, according to new research from business management platform MYOB.

MYOB surveyed 1,000 SMEs (employing between 1-200 people) and 1,000 people working in Aussie SMEs, with the findings showing:

  • 85% of SMEs are focusing more on employee experience as a result of tight talent market
  • 9 in 10 workers say employee experience is an important decision factor when considering a new job
  • 7 in 10 people would be put off staying as an employee if the onboarding was bad
  • 79% think onboarding can make or break a new hire’s experience with a business

SMEs need to improve their onboarding:

  • 44% of people working in SMEs think their workplace could improve their onboarding process
  • 3 in 4 SME owners recognise they need to improve their onboarding process

In a survey of 1,000 employees of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), 79% believe onboarding can make or break a new hire’s experience with a company. Two fifths (44%) said while they do think their employer carefully considers their onboarding process, further improvements could be made.

Onboarding relates to everything a new hire experiences, from the moment they accept the role through to becoming a fully-fledged team member.

An additional survey of 1,000 Australian SME owners and operators revealed 3 in 4 (78%) recognise they need to improve their onboarding process. Positively, half (51%) said they are currently paying ‘a lot of attention’ to this, as part of the overall experience they offer their employees.

85% of SMEs have increased their focus on employee experience in light of the competitive hiring market, the research found.


Chief Employee Experience Officer at MYOB Helen Lea say as result of the tight talent market, the dynamics in the employer-employee relationship have shifted somewhat.

“There are currently more jobs available than people to fill the roles, and according to the National Skills Commission, recruitment has been consistently more difficult this year compared with 2021*. So when you find the right talent, you want to do everything you can to keep them in your business.

“Our research indicates how people are more willing to move around in a hot market, so it’s imperative that businesses take time to consider how they onboard new hires, as this could help retain good people. Onboarding can have a direct impact on the longevity of an employee, with previous research showing it can improve hire retention by over 80% and productivity by over 70%**.”

“There are several stages of the onboarding process, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to make tweaks and improvements. This could be assessing how to make a new hire’s first few days more interactive, or simply making sure you catch up with them on an informal basis to get to know them better. Or it could be providing clarity on achievable goals aligned to your business objectives, so they have clear direction and impact from the start.”

James Windon, co-CEO and co-founder of workplace financial services platform Flare, which is used by over one in four new employees in Australia and was acquired by MYOB in September this year, weighs in with his expertise:

“Investing time to plan your onboarding program can have a positive ripple effect on the business, and putting new employees first makes them feel like they made the right choice by joining the team. Remember onboarding isn’t a race, it’s a journey, so pace and spread out the information over time.

“Another consideration is how you ‘pre-board’ someone. Streamlining how employees share their details with the business can really help improve this experience. Swapping endless paper forms for a digital onboarding tool is not only easier and faster for the new hire, but for you too, and can improve your efficiency by up to 85%***.”

How SMEs are stepping up employee experience to attract and retain talent

9 in 10 workers said employee experience is an important decision factor when considering a new job. With 3 in 5 SMEs (64%) looking to hire people within the next six months, getting this right is crucial.

“When MYOB considers employee experience, it encompasses everything someone encounters and feels while at work – from the job application to the first day, the work culture and environment, employee engagement, benefits on offer, business leadership and so much more,” explains Ms Lea.

“It’s wonderful to see SMEs giving employee experience the attention it deserves. We should all be continuously assessing this, regardless of circumstances or business size. The good news is 83 per cent of people we surveyed think their workplace offers a good employee experience, so this heightened attention is clearly paying off.”

43% of people said their bosses had communicated plans to improve employee experience, but over a third (35%) were not in the loop on any steps being taken.

When asked what their current employer could focus more on to improve their experience, the most common responses among workers were: the benefits on offer (40%); the learning and training opportunities available (38%), the physical work environment (30%) and their onboarding experience (27%).

A benefits program was also the most important element of employee experience for respondents, and the top attraction factor when deciding to join a company.

Two thirds of people said they expect SMEs to offer benefits such discounts on products or services, salary packaging options, free access to wellbeing programs or free food, snacks or coffee in the office. Currently, 1 in 10 employees surveyed do not receive any such benefits.


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