Onboarding Employees: 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid
Recruiting frequently gets the spotlight when it comes to HR strategy, which is no surprise — bringing in new candidates is a top priority across every industry. But today, we’re in the midst of the Great Resignation: a record 4.4 million workers in the U.S. quit their jobs in September. 54% of companies worldwide report experiencing talent shortages. With fewer workers available to recruit, HR teams are strengthening their retention-driving strategies to hold onto their top talent.
If your company wants to drive retention, look no further than your process for onboarding employees. A structured onboarding plan positively impacts motivation and engagement levels. It makes new hires feel welcome and supported. But, be sure to avoid some of the common mistakes businesses make in their onboarding process.
Why Is Employee Onboarding Important?
Onboarding is important because of its immense impact on how satisfied and interested employees are in their jobs, and, in turn, whether or not they stay at those jobs. Employee satisfaction and engagement are closely tied to onboarding because, according to SHRM, it’s hard to change the first impression. That’s supported by the fact that 70% of employees who had “exceptional onboarding experiences” say they have the “best possible job.”
70% of employees who had a great onboarding experience said they have the “best possible job.”
That high level of job satisfaction leads to employees who are much more likely to stay with their company. In fact, employees are 70% more likely to be with their company after three years if their onboarding was effective. It’s impossible to ignore the value of investing time and resources in a solid onboarding plan.
During onboarding, you want to communicate company values, set expectations, and introduce new hires to their team. You want to help new hires connect with colleagues, company culture, and business goals. In an ideal onboarding process, employees have the tools and support they need to succeed in their roles from the start.
Examine your employee onboarding process to see if your business is making any of these common mistakes. If you’re onboarding any (or all) of your employees remotely, it’s even more important to take a second look at your processes and optimize the onboarding experience.
Common Onboarding Mistakes:
1. Cramming On Day One
Starting a new job is overwhelming enough — there’s no need to cram every to-do list item into day one. That’s difficult for both new employees and human resources teams to handle. Make it more manageable by creating an onboarding checklist that breaks down new hire tasks by day, week, and month.
Often, some tasks like submitting documents and signing policies can be completed before the employee’s start date. Design employees’ first-day experiences to focus on meeting their team, discussing their onboarding schedule, and completing a simple task.
2. Too-Short Process
Evidence points to longer, months-long onboarding programs as being more successful than shorter programs. Gallup even suggests onboarding processes last one year to increase engagement during that critical period of employment. The best onboarding program for your employees might vary from weeks to months, depending on their roles and responsibilities, but it shouldn’t stop after the first day or week. A longer onboarding process allows employees to settle into their role more confidently and gain a more thorough understanding of their goals and the company.
3. Not Establishing Connections
Onboarding is all about helping your new hires build connections: to their goals, to company mission and values, and to their fellow team members. Great onboarding programs give new hires insight into the company’s history so they can understand the why behind their work and how that work advances the company's mission.
Connecting new employees with their colleagues is also an important part of onboarding. These connections come more naturally when working in-office, but if your company is remote or hybrid, you’ll need to be more intentional about building relationships. Help new hires break the ice by setting up casual chats with a handful of employees and adding them to a monthly coffee chat group where they can continue to meet their coworkers.
Lots of onboarding plans also include a mentorship program, pairing new hires with a more seasoned employees. Mentors help new employees get the lay of the land and understand the complexities of the work environment. Mentorship works, too: research shows that 91% of employees with mentors say they’re satisfied with their jobs.
4. No Goal-Setting
We’ve talked about the importance of goal-setting many times on the blog, given that this action is a huge factor in employee success. Goals are engaging; they can even motivate employees to work harder to reach those goals. They provide direction, set expectations, and give employees a clear purpose.
You should both set new hire goals and discuss role objectives for the most effective onboarding plan. That gives employees goals to focus on right away and helps them connect with the larger purpose of their role. You can set goals for the first 30, 60, and 90 days to help employees get into the swing of things and learn your company’s process for goal-setting, updating, and reviewing.
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5. Lack Of Feedback
Goal-setting is valuable but don’t set goals just to drop the ball on following up. If a new hire’s 30-day goals included meeting three new colleagues and creating an expense report template, managers should check in about goal progress during that 30 days. Continuous feedback helps employees learn much more quickly and adjust their approach as they work. Frequent feedback is especially important while employees are learning brand-new processes and procedures in a new environment.
6. Not Measuring Onboarding Success
There’s no way to know if your onboarding process works if you don’t measure its outcomes. Put together an onboarding survey and get input from employees who have just experienced your program to learn what’s working and where it could be improved. If your onboarding process is new or refreshed, track 90-day retention rates to see the effect of those changes. Measure employee engagement levels to see if a new or updated onboarding plan results in higher engagement.
Onboarding employees is a crucial process, setting the tone for performance, engagement, and retention throughout the employee lifecycle. There are many factors to get right in order to create a plan that results in engaged, productive, loyal employees.
Using onboarding software like ClearCompany gives you the tools to avoid these common mistakes and create an engaging experience for new hires. Our Onboarding platform is equipped with features from custom New Hire Portals to New Hire Goal Setting. You can create a comprehensive onboarding plan experience that motivates new employees and keeps them at your company long-term.
This article was originally published on the ClearCompany blog by Melanie Baravik.