5 Mistakes Employers Make When Onboarding New Hires

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LonelyIt is amazing to think that employers will on average spend roughly $3500 on a new hire, and yet only 32 percent of them have formal onboarding programs in place to properly engage and retain those very same new hires. The reality is that the majority of new hires are left to sink or swim on their own.

When you really think about it, however, this isn’t totally surprising. The talent market is a stressful place right now, and most organizations must invest copious amounts of time and energy in finding great candidates in the first place. Meanwhile, while existing staff members are working hard to fill the gaps left by vacant roles. By the time a new hire actually starts, there is little fuel left in the organizational tank to welcome, nurture, educate, and orient them. The result is that the onboarding process often falls by the wayside.

Here are five of the most common mistakes employers make when onboarding — or failing to onboard — new employees. If you feel your company commits any of these mistakes, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities.

1. Leaving Employees to Sink or Swim on Their Own 

New employees are in a precarious position. Studies show that 50 percent of hourly workers leave their jobs in the first 120 days, and half of all senior hires fail in their first 18 months on the job.

If you leave your new staff members to sink or swim on their own, inertia will carry many of them them away, and your company will suffer high turnover levels.

The companies with the lowest new-hire turnover rates do not make this mistake. Instead, they implement formal onboarding processes. Research from Aberdeen Group found that 91 percent of lower-performing companies lack formal onboarding approaches, compared to just 56 percent of higher-performing companies.

It is vital that you use some sort of formal onboarding to build trust and loyalty and boost new hire retention. Not doing so can have some very negative impacts on your company.

2. Waiting Until the New Hire’s First Day to Start Onboarding

A new trend is emerging in onboarding. Known to some as “pre-boarding,” it involves engaging with new hires and starting the welcoming process before the new hire’s first day on the job.

During the pre-boarding period, wSkyhich can start as soon as the candidate has signed a contract, you can prepare the new hire for their first day. This can help to reduce the new hire’s time-to-productivity, quell any new-job jitters they are feeling, further excite them about the role, and counteract “cold feet,” thereby reducing the number of dropouts and first day no-shows.

Pre-boarding is about making new hires feel like they are part of the firm before their start date by allowing them to access key parts of the company network, inviting them to fun meetings with key contacts, and telling them more about upcoming projects and activities.

Not developing a structured communication and welcoming plan prior to an employee’s first day is a missed opportunity to enhance the engagement levels of your new hire.

3. Having an Onboarding Process That Is Too Short

Studies show that the majority of employers have onboarding periods of less than a month — and that’s too short. How do we know this? Research from Aberdeen Group shows that 30 percent of best-in-class companies extend onboarding to the first six months. To get the most out of your new hires and maximize engagement and loyalty, you need to extend your on-boarding processes to at least six months.

4. Not Having a Dedicated Staff Member or Team Responsible for Onboarding

The Aberdeen Group research mentioned above showed that 55 percent of best-in-class firms have a manager responsible for onboarding, compared to just 39 percent of lower-level companies.

It’s vital that you assign a dedicated person or team to handle and maintain all onboarding. If you operate a large enough company, you could hire a person specifically for this role. If you operate a smaller company, you can simply assign onboarding responsibilities to a willing employee, such as an office manager.

5. Failing to Adopt a New Hire Socialization Strategy

SocialThe Aberdeen research also found that best-in-class organizations were more likely to incorporate some form of socialization into their onboarding strategies. Socialization strategies give formal support to new hires to help them develop connections, build networks, and learn how things get done in the company.

Socialization strategies can begin with developing lots of documentation about culture, communication, and collaboration within the organization. Companies may also consider assigned a buddy to all new hires who can show them to ropes.

Failure to support a new hire’s socialization is one of the biggest mistakes an employer can make in onboarding. Employees who feel disconnected from their companies are less loyal, less engaged, and far more likely to leave.

I strongly encourage all organizations to take a look at this list and do some serious self-reflection. If any of the mistakes I’ve outlined above seem to describe the way you are onboarding new hires, now is the time to make things right and reap the rewards of formal onboarding programs.

Read more in Onboarding

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.