6 Mistakes to Avoid In Your New Hire Onboarding Process

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Your new hire onboarding process is when you set the tone for an employee’s experience. When done well, new employees will feel confident and excited. When done poorly, new hires might be left confused, lost, and doubting their new job choice.

According to a report compiled by SHRM, “half of all senior outside hires fail within the first 18 months in a new position,” and “half of all hourly workers leave new jobs within the first 120 days.”

Don’t let your employees become part of those statistics. Here are a few common mistakes that you should avoid when executing your new hire onboarding:

1. Starting onboarding on the new hire’s first day. An employee should feel prepared and comfortable before they even enter the office on their first day, and this requires some effort on your end. There is a fine line here, because new hires shouldn’t feel like they have homework to do before starting the job. Instead, err on the side of caution by providing them with optional information to review (an employee handbook or company materials) and an overview of what to expect. Explain the dress code standards, any documents they should bring, who they will be working with, and the onboarding schedule.

In addition to the new employee feeling prepared for their first day, existing employees should be prepared to welcome the new hire. Notify everyone of new employees, and encourage the staff to engage with them.

2. Not setting expectations and company policies. This goes for formal company policies, position responsibilities, and less formal elements of a job. In a study of 1,005 individuals, “provide clearer guidelines” was the main thing that companies could do differently to retain new hires. In the same study, “different work than expected” was a key reason why new employees leave quickly. These results paint the picture of why it’s important to establish guidelines early and clearly.

To begin, all new hires should understand the company’s mission statement and core values, and what this means for their position. Any expectations or policies should be written down and accessible at all times. Further, after an employee has had a chance to review any guidelines, proactively inquire about their clarity and provide the opportunity to ask questions.

3. Instituting a one-size-fits-all approach for every new hire. As Inc.’s onboarding guide explains, each employee requires a different management style, so why assume that everyone would flourish under the same onboarding process? At the beginning of onboarding, inquire about a new hire’s learning style, and adjust your schedule accordingly. Make it clear that feedback is welcomed, and that they are encouraged to ask questions whenever necessary. Don’t forget to make sure they knew who to go to for questions!

Similarly, onboarding is a great opportunity to make employees feel valued off the bat. Consider personalizing certain elements of their onboarding. Did you learn something about the employee in their interview process, such as a favorite sports team or their alma mater? Surprise them with a reference to that on their first day.

4. Involving only the new hire’s direct team or department. While it’s important that an employee feels part of their immediate team, they should also feel connected to the company as a whole. One important component of this is establishing a connection to the top. This will differ depending on your company’s size. If you’re a small company, you have the luxury of face-to-face meetings and encounters. If you’re a bigger company, technology will come in handy to facilitate this connection. For example, Inc.’s onboarding guide recommends having key leadership introduce themselves over video.

5. Limiting onboarding to a week. While you might be able to cover most of the basic details  in the first week, learning and training should be an ongoing process. Employees should always know where to go for questions, at any point during their employment. For example, IBM recognizes that employees are still in the process of “connecting” to the organization for the first full year of their employment.  To encourage this, IBM provides new employees with an “ask coach” who serves as their go-to for guidance, resources, and general support throughout the process.

6. Forgetting to follow-up. There are two types of feedback that are important to gather throughout, immediately after, and a few months after onboarding.

A) It’s important to collect feedback on the overall onboarding and training process so that you can continue to iterate for future hires. A survey is a great way to compile this information and measure change over time. Ask new hires about what worked, what didn’t work, and what the company can do better.

B) You should also collect feedback on an individual basis. As explained in the third point, every employee learns and assimilates differently, so it’s important that you keep a pulse on how the individual is feeling throughout (and after!) their onboarding.

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