11 employee onboarding mistakes to avoid

What to avoid in your onboarding process

Designing an onboarding programme that attracts and retains great people

At Let’s Talk Talent, our years of experience working with clients have helped us pinpoint the top mistakes to avoid as part of your new employee onboarding process.

Did you know that over 20% of employees leave within 90 days of starting a new role? That means a staggering one in five new hires will have left within less than three months of starting work with you.

Considering the high cost of recruitment, focusing on improving the effectiveness of the onboarding process should be a no-brainer for businesses everywhere. However, many organisations still struggle to design and implement onboarding initiatives that both attract and retain great people.

Here’s our checklist of mistakes to avoid in your onboarding process.

What to avoid in your employee onboarding process

Onboarding mistake #1: Neglecting the pre-life onboarding experience

We can all remember the stress of starting a new job. Don’t wait until the first day to start communicating with new hires. Generate motivation before staff have even walked through the door by sending out a welcome pack so they feel both prepared, and excited about working with you.

Onboarding mistake #2: Overlooking compliance as part of your onboarding materials

This is an important part of every role, and new hires should have all the information they need to comply with all legal and regulatory requirements, company policies and procedures. However, compliance training doesn’t have to be boring! Rethink the way you deliver this by improving the format of your mandatory training material: make it as interactive as possible and find ways to bring it to life.

Onboarding mistake #3: Leaving out culture integration

Of course, job-specific tasks and procedures are crucial. But your new hires selected you as their employer of choice above all other potential employers. Probably because your company’s core values align with their own. Don’t miss this opportunity to bring your company’s culture, values and mission to life for them.

Onboarding mistake #4: Not providing new hires with enough support

New joiners will need to build a network in order to become proficient in their new role. Help them by setting up opportunities to create new connections. Buddy systems, mentors and regular one-to-ones with colleagues are great ways to encourage this. Also, don’t neglect social events. They are a great way for people to bond in a more relaxed setting..

Onboarding mistake #5: Not gathering feedback on your onboarding programme

Your onboarding initiative should be agile. Use feedback from new hires and other stakeholders to identify areas for improvements, and to course correct along the way. As Jo Taylor, MD at Let’s Talk Talent, says: “Don’t wait for something to go wrong. Bake in some review points at key milestones, such as after the first 30, 60 or 90 days.

Onboarding mistake #6: Ignoring employee engagement throughout the onboarding stage

It’s important to find ways to measure how engaged your new hires are throughout the onboarding process. Send out onboarding questionnaires or tiny pulse surveys, or sit down with recruits and ask them how they feel. Are they excited about the future? Do they feel motivated? How could their onboarding experience be better? When it comes to improving your onboarding initiative, new starters will be your greatest asset.

Onboarding mistake #7: Skipping regular check-ins with new employees

Managers should make sure they schedule regular check-ins with their new team members. Use these to validate that they are adjusting well, and have the tools and support they need to do their job well.

Onboarding mistake #8: Not measuring retention rates amongst new employees

Are you tracking retention rates for your new joiners using separate metrics, and are you comparing this data to your wider talent pool’s retention rate? This could be a powerful way to evaluate the effectiveness of your onboarding strategy.

Onboarding mistake #9: Ignoring time-to-productivity data

Make sure you measure the time it takes for new hires to become fully productive, and use this data to continuously adapt your onboarding experience. Identify potential areas for improvement, such as insufficient mandatory training, or lack of manager support, and course correct as you go along.

Onboarding mistake #10: Not giving new hires time to do their jobs

Many organisations try to help new hires get up to speed quickly and inadvertently bombard them with onboarding materials. “Give new joiners the space and time to figure things out. Show them enough for them to be able to decide how they want to do their job,” adds Jo.

Onboarding mistake #11: Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach

The onboarding experience should vary from one person to the next. Of course, there are common things everyone needs to go through, but do leave space for customisation. What’s the right balance? At Let’s Talk Talent, we recommend creating standard onboarding checklists and tools (such as our free downloadable onboarding checklist), whilst also giving people managers the freedom to personalise it for each team member.

What makes a good onboarding programme?

There is no recipe for the perfect onboarding programme. However, whilst each organisation will require a different approach, some key ingredients will remain the same. Over the years, we have developed a foolproof approach to onboarding: the 5Cs (Compliance, Culture, Connection, Clarification, Care). Each of these components is an essential part of an exceptional employee onboarding experience.

Another item that should be added to your onboarding to-do list? A great onboarding pack. Find out what should be in your new starters’ onboarding pack for a kickass way to welcome your new hires the right way.

The first year of an employee’s journey with you is key, and the great news is that HR teams everywhere are dedicated to improving this crucial stage of the employee experience. By avoiding the common mistakes above, you can create an experience that makes employees feel welcome, engaged and more importantly, excited for the future.

If you could use another pair of eyes to review your onboarding process, from Day 0 to Day 100, Let’s Talk Talent offers comprehensive onboarding audits. Don’t hesitate to book a call with us. Or have a look at our Onboarding services page for a bunch of free resources, tips, and advice.

Onboarding checklist
Welcome new starters into your business in the best way possible.
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