4 Employee Onboarding Mistakes To Avoid

Dustin Moore | January 30, 2019

4 Employee Onboarding Mistakes To Avoid

When it comes to hiring and retaining top talent, the onboarding process is one of the most important places you can focus your efforts. If you get great people in the door, but can’t effectively move them through the onboarding process, they won’t be the impact players you need on your team. They’ll be slower in learning their new role, take a longer time to achieve competency in critical business applications, and will be more likely to leave the organization.

Lots of people have ideas about how to create a successful employee onboarding program, but few people talk about where things can go wrong. Keep reading to learn about five employee onboarding mistakes to avoid. 

30 second summary: 4 employee onboarding mistakes to avoid.

  1. Waiting until day one
  2. Communication breakdown
  3. Not enough training
  4. Not utilizing the best resources for application onboarding and user adoption

Mistake #1- Waiting Until Day One

Everyone is familiar with the all-too-common “radio silence” period between applying for, interviewing for, and getting a new job. As frustrating as that is for job seekers, there is another period of radio silence that can be even worse, particularly for employers – the silence between a candidate accepting a job offer and starting the new job. After accepting an offer, the new hire is excited to join a new organization, in a new role; she will never be more excited about work than she is at this moment. To capitalize on this excitement, most companies… do nothing. Frequently, after signing an acceptance letter, the next interaction a newly hired employee has with her new employer is walking into the building on her first day. Rather than letting this time go to waste, start the onboarding process right away by actively communicating from the moment a candidate accepts a position. 

Reach out to your candidate via phone or email. Keep her posted on your progress in completing the hiring process, and give her an idea of what to expect in the coming days and weeks. If you can, give her a brief itinerary of her first few days on the job. Don’t wait until she walks into the building on her first day. If you do, you’ll already be playing catch-up. 

Mistake #2- Communication Breakdown

2014 survey by BambooHR in 2014 showed that as many as 31% of employees quit a job within the first 6 months, with up to 17% quitting within 90 days. This is frequently attributed to lack of communication by management and human resources throughout the onboarding process. Research shows that turnover is expensive. A study by SHRM reveals the cost of hiring a direct replacement can be up to 60% of an employee’s annual salary, and total costs associated with employee turnover can be as high at 90%-200% of an employee’s annual salary. This means poor communication during the onboarding process can potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars – for just one position! Multiply this out across five, 10, or 25 hires, and you could easily find yourself with a six (or seven) figure problem. An easy solution is to incorporate several communication checkpoints into your onboarding process. Touch base with new employees on a regular basis to see how they are doing, if they need assistance, and how you can improve their likelihood of staying with the company. A little open communication goes a long way.

Mistake #3- Not Enough Training

With so many hiring managers being asked to do more with less, training is often shortened, or even abandoned altogether, in an attempt to get new hires into their roles and producing as quickly as possible. This approach is always rife with problems, and this is especially true during onboarding. Early investments in effective training pay long-term dividends for companies. Don’t let the “tyranny of the now” compromise your long term success. Give new hires adequate training time. Assess their progress. Identify where they are strong performers, and where they might need extra help to become a full contributor. If a new hire feels like he’s been thrown to the wolves, he probably isn’t going to stick around long. 

Mistake #4- Not Utilizing the Best Resources for Application Onboarding and User Adoption

Classroom training and LMS courses help get employees familiar with organizational culture, security requirements, and let employers verify a new hire has been exposed to certain materials. However, these resources aren’t very effective at helping new employees onboard to complex applications, like ERPs, CRMs, HRMs, etc., that they’ll need to be proficient in to do their jobs effectively. Most people don’t learn best by seeing – they learn best by doing. That is where contextual guidance can help new hires onboard more effectively, and increase their adoption of critical business systems. Contextual guidance delivers help and support to a user in their flow of work, helping him to learn about what he is doing, while he is actually doing it. All the classroom training and tests in the world can’t match the improved training success that comes with this method. It is proactive, effective, and will result in better retention and faster advancement for new hires in most cases.

The Bottom Line 

Successful employee onboarding is all about taking the time to create a process that works for everyone, and utilizing the right technology to achieve the best outcome. Avoiding 4 employee onboarding mistakes – waiting too long to begin employee onboarding, not communicating enough with new hires, not providing enough training to new hires, and not providing the right resources for application onboarding and user adoption – will help set you, your organization, and your new hires up for long term success.

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