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Bad onboarding a deal breaker for 7 in 10 employees; new focus on employee experience for SMEs

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 20211. 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%.2”

“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%3.”  

SMEs 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. 


Media contact:

Selina Ife

Media Manager


About MYOB

MYOB is a leading business platform with a core purpose of helping more businesses in Australia and New Zealand start, survive and succeed. MYOB delivers end-to-end business, financial and accounting solutions direct to businesses employing between 0 and 1000 employees, alongside a network of accountants, bookkeepers and consultants. For more information visit or follow MYOB on LinkedIn.

About the research 

SME research: Commissioned by MYOB and conducted by McCrindle between the 29th of August and 6th of September 2022. Findings are based on a sample of 1,002 Australians who manage and/or are an owner of a small-medium enterprise (non-employing or employ up to 199 employees).

Employee research: Commissioned by MYOB and conducted by Pollfish between 24th October and 1st November 2022. Findings are based on a sample of 1,000 Australians aged 18+, who are employed by small to medium sized businesses (defined by 1-200 employees), permanent, casual or contract capacity.