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on February 20, 2016 Engagement Onboarding

Top Five Employee Onboarding Mistakes

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It's been a long 6 week stretch, but you’ve finally found the right person for that role in Marketing. The offer has been signed and now we need to get them plugged-in to the organization.

For companies scaling quickly with lots of new hires, employee onboarding can quickly become a never-ending time sink. Overwhelmed with new hire checklists, it's inevitable that some simple tasks slip through the cracks.

That welcome email, those industry background slides, or ensuring they have the login credentials they need. Over time, these cracks in the new employee onboarding process start to grow and limit the ramp-up time for those new employees.

With these simple omissions, it’s no surprise that according to Harvard Business Review, 33% of new hires (and even more if they’re Millennials) are already sending out job applications within the first six months on the job.

Soon enough, a new employee that you invested all that time in, leaves - which with employee turnover, costing 21% of their salary.

It's safe to say that you’re not alone. Managers in companies of all sizes can struggle to create the right early Employee Experience in their onboarding plans that give new employees the resources they need to succeed.

Importantly, making sure you're not falling into several employee onboarding pitfalls can go a long way to help create a smoother, more efficient system for nurturing new employees into rock stars.

1. John is Good, Be Like John

With limited time and resources, a lot of companies often default to an over reliance on employee shadowing.

After a short orientation of letting staff members know where the fire escape is, the rest of the employee onboarding process is simply “shadowing” another team member for a set number of days or weeks.

Unfortunately, the “John is good. Be like John.” approach is not a particularly effective strategy if used in isolation. Job shadowing certainly has its place, but this lacks a sustainable structure that can be scaled over the long term.

Furthermore, the employee that the new hire shadows (John, in our example) will only be able to teach them about the systems and experience they see - and will quickly grow tired of answering the same questions.

It’s important to recognize that for new hires to understand the larger picture of what is happening in other departments, and how the various groups work together, can make a massive difference to their competence levels at the new company.

It's no secret that informed employees are usually high performing employees.

Instead of employee shadowing, what's needed is a more in-depth, integrated system - spearheaded by the managers and VPs that works in tandem with the right resources, oversight, and peers across various departments. This includes sharing curated information and instituting effective checks on how their onboarding experience is going.

By incorporating the different elements of the organization into employee onboarding, HR leaders can take a proactive role in ensuring that new hires successfully transition into great team members.

2. Google Anything You Don't Understand

Orientation is only the first step of employee onboarding, and assuming new employees can figure it all out on their own can lead to new-hire anxiety and a lack of confidence in their new role.

Employee onboarding shouldn't be a hands-off, do-it-yourself affair from public resources. 

Expecting them to figure out their roles and train themselves is a recipe for disaster.

For your new hires to succeed, we need to provide them with the underlying “how” and “why” the organization does things the way it does.

Don't surprise them later down the road with something that they “should’ve learned. A better practice is to go for education and transparency from the get-go, providing them with access to the right employee resources.

Let your new hire know what the trajectory of their role is and that of the company. While there are motivations to hold back some financial numbers, we believe the best practice is to be transparent with them as much as possible, and as Google taught us - Default to Open.

By doing so, you can build a relationship of trust. Establishing trust is the most critical element towards promoting sustainable, long-term Employee Experience success.

3. Read these Powerpoints and Word Documents

If new hires are presented with a thick package of long-form documents or Powerpoint materials, adjacent to a laundry list of job responsibilities and objectives - you’re doing employee onboarding wrong.

With today’s largely millennial workforce, information presented in this format doesn't lead to the level of employee engagement that it used to.

With the constant distractions of 21st century living, it's important to adapt the learning process of today. A modern employee training strategy consisting of shorter, laser-focused segments will allow the new employee to better absorb and retain the information.

Also, try changing the medium that the material is presented in. Video training offers a great advantage to written manuals and can help the new hire digest and retain more information in the employee onboarding process.

4. Finding the Onboarding Materials in the Server Room

New employees can't be expected to learn all the ropes in the first week.

Truth be told, a more realistic timeline would be in the first 6 months to a year. Which means that the employee onboarding content you provide can quickly lose value if it's only presented in isolation - as the employee's learning process won't ever be that fast.

The two keys to effective learning are repetition and application, and a strong employee onboarding program will include ongoing activities that encourage the employee to return to the material on a consistent basis.

So, the best employee onboarding content is searchable and aligned with the business’s long-term goals of employee engagement and development.

HR and team managers should keep active track of the hire to ensure they’re progressing as expected, and be ready to make adjustments to the training program if problems arise.

Ultimately, everything the company can do to ensure that the new employee continues interacting and applying the content they learned will contribute to the greatest employee onboarding results.

5. Do You Think it's Working?

What gets measured, gets improved - so if you can't measure your employee onboarding program ROI , how will you know if it’s heading in the right direction?

Like the products or services that your company provides for customers, you need to gather feedback and data points, and constantly seek to improve your company’s employee onboarding process.

While onboarding ties back to so many different aspects of the company that it can be hard to measure, there are several metrics you can use to improve the process over time, such as:

  • - Adherence to company values;
  • - Knowing how to use the basic systems and applications;
  • - Understanding the 'bigger picture';
  • - Common mistakes in the first three months; and
  • - Often-occurring gaps in product knowledge.

All of these data points can provide human resource leaders with strong signals to the level of employee onboarding success, and will enable you to improve the ROI of your employee onboarding program.

Like most things, you need accountability to make sure the onboarding process is as solid as it can be.

Even if you're doing it right, there are always aspects that could be improved.

Forward thinking leaders will continue to analyze the information to find out where the weak spots are, and take the necessary steps towards the ultimate goal - improvement.

Using Employee Onboarding to Amplify Employee Experience Success

If your company is scaling quickly and onboarding lots of new hires, your employee onboarding process should be a top organizational priority.

To be done effectively, human resource managers should invest in a simple, effective, and scalable framework that ensures new hires are effectively onboarded into the company in a way that maximizes their chances of success.

Employee Experience Management can go a long way towards growing ROI on your employee onboarding programs and company culture.

Want to learn more about how Employee Onboarding can enhance engagement and performance in your teams? Schedule a demo below:blog_banner.png

Andy Crebar

Andy Crebar is a Co-Founder of Sapling, which helps companies use Employee Onboarding to amplify their total Employee Experience (‘EX’). He is passionate about people, self awareness and self improvement.