November 8, 2022

We often hear about how to onboard new employees, but what costly mistakes should employers avoid? The lengths you go to welcome, train, and integrate new hires in their first days, weeks, and year has a lasting impact on morale and performance.

Hence, a solid onboarding program should be the first line of defense in your employee retention strategies!

Some start off strong, but the efforts dwindle after the first few days or weeks. Some inundate new team members with information and throw them to the wolves. Other organizations have no onboarding process.

There are several key areas where many companies get it wrong, missing significant opportunities to set the tone and hold onto their talent. Below are nine common mistakes to avoid during new employee onboarding.

1. Not having an employee onboarding process

Often, businesses hire when they’re growing rapidly and need more bandwidth. The owner and managers are overwhelmed. Without an employee onboarding process, the whole thing gets pushed to the bottom of everyone’s priorities. New hires are left to sink or swim.

The lack of an onboarding program causes new hires stress, confusion about their job and responsibilities, and frustration. There are oversights, and both managers and employees are left scrambling. Not to mention, managers and peers are unclear about their roles in the onboarding process. In turn, your business experiences poor employee performance, productivity, job satisfaction, and retention.

Implementing a thorough program is crucial to making an excellent first impression and encouraging employees to stay. Learn about the five stages of new employee onboarding and what to cover in each phase.

Do you have virtual team members? You’ll need a specific strategy for onboarding remote employees to ensure they feel supported and engaged, even from a distance. This will take a more conscious effort in areas like face-to-face interactions, digital platforms, and virtual training.

2. Viewing it as an exclusive HR responsibility

It’s not only on your HR team to onboard new employees; you must also get buy-in from managers. Unfortunately, many leaders figure it’s up to HR to ensure new team members get all the support, information, and training they need. This often results in disengaged employees who don’t stick around long.

When managers actively engage with new hires, it profoundly impacts their early experience with the company. Gallup found that employees are 3.4 times more likely to strongly agree their onboarding experience was exceptional when managers take an active role in the process.

3. Not giving them a new hire buddy

As the business owner or manager, you likely won’t be available 100% of the time for new hires. So who can show them the ropes regularly? Provide new perspectives and tips from someone who enjoys working there? You’d be remiss not to assign a new hire buddy!

Pair your newest team member with a buddy or mentor to help them better understand the company and culture. A good match is an employee with a positive, outgoing, welcoming attitude. The newbie may be more comfortable turning to a peer with certain questions than their boss.

4. Confusing new employee onboarding with orientation

Many employers think the basics, like completing new hire paperwork and reviewing policies, manuals, benefits, and administrative procedures, cover onboarding. But that’s all part of the orientation process, not to be confused with onboarding.

Orientation is more like one important step when you onboard new employees. The onboarding program should be a long-term strategic plan lasting a year or more. It gradually integrates the new employee into the organization’s policies, processes, and culture.

5. Skipping preboarding

Preboarding covers all that fun new hire paperwork mentioned above, setting up the new employee’s office, and sending the company-wide welcome email to introduce them to their colleagues. As you consider best practices for employee onboarding, remember that the process starts before your new hire does!

If you wait until they start to have new employees review and sign their paperwork, they could sit for hours going through it all. And if they don’t even have their essentials like a computer, their early days could be mind-numbing and isolating. This is all a waste of your company’s valuable time and your new employee’s talents!

Plus, if new hires are not welcomed and introduced to everyone, their colleagues may be unclear about their start date, role, and duties. They also won’t be as prepared to support their new team member.

6. Making the onboarding program too short

Many companies want to onboard new employees as quickly as possible. Their team is on overdrive and under the gun, and they want someone who can rock their role ASAP.

But a Gallup poll “found that new employees typically take around 12 months to reach their full performance potential within a role.” This can be even longer for those in complex leadership and management positions.

You’ll miss out on regular feedback and development opportunities by rushing through onboarding in the first few days or weeks. And you’ll probably be tossing them into the ring before they’re fully ready and set up for success.

The first year should be an attentive, insightful time in which the manager monitors and discusses:

  • The new employee’s performance
  • Whether they’re a good fit for the organization
  • What their future with the company looks like

7. Failing to schedule regular check-ins

Managers often check in with new employees frequently during the first few weeks, then disappear. Again, onboarding doesn’t end after the first day or week!

Without regular check-ins, your newest team member could end up lost and isolated. They won’t know how to gauge their performance and may hesitate to ask for help. The new kid never wants to feel like the needy one!

Start with daily or every other day check-ins, then once a week, then every other week, and so on based on the employee’s development and needs. Use this time to ensure your new hire feels supported and confident in their job, and give them a chance to ask questions or get help. It’s also the perfect time to discuss their career path with the organization and reassure them they have a future there.

8. Overcommunicating

Although consistent, clear communication is key to successful new employee onboarding, there is such a thing as information overload. While it’s easy to get carried away and assume new talent is ready to take the reins immediately, giving them too much information at once can overwhelm them.

Avoid constant emails, phone calls, and even meetings. While those regular check-ins are important, managers should use them as support time for the new hire. Start by giving them the essential information during their first week. Plan out their assignments to ensure they have a handle on each process and task before adding too many responsibilities to their plate.

9. Not infusing your corporate culture

Today’s talent wants to find a workplace that offers more than good pay and benefits—they want an employer that stands out and aligns with their own values. If you don’t highlight what sets your organization apart, candidates and new employees won’t understand why they should want to work with you.

Show off your corporate culture when you onboard new employees by having leaders and team members share stories or conduct immersive experiences. For example, if your company cares about community service, share the nonprofits you support and examples of team volunteer days.

There is also a growing focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Your team wants to know what you’re doing to make a difference in this area. Share your efforts, such as your DEI training and expert speakers.

WOW New Employees with a Powerful Onboarding Program

Investing in your new employee onboarding program up front will save you significant time, money, and headaches down the road. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 50% of all hourly workers leave new jobs in the first four months, and 50% of senior outside hires fail within 18 months.

Spending all that money on recruiting and hiring new talent just to watch it walk out the door a few months or a year later? Ouch!

But when you develop a long-term, strategic onboarding process, you’ll see retention rates rise and create a healthy, positive workplace.

Whether you need to develop a new employee onboarding program from scratch or update your current process, BlueLion can help! Contact us at 603-818-4131 or to learn how today.

The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.