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Don't Let These Mistakes Sink Your Onboarding Strategy

An employee onboarding strategy can do more harm than good when it's poorly managed. Before you can improve your company's onboarding process, you should first understand where they break down. Here are five common onboarding mistakes your business should avoid.
Onboarding strategy mistakes

Companies today are increasingly realizing the importance of an employee onboarding strategy. Yet according to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), one in twenty-five employees leave their jobs due to a poor onboarding process. Your onboarding process is a new hire's first in-depth introduction to their job, your company, and their colleagues. Investing in this critical stage of employment may help build strong employee relationships, increase performance, and improve employee retention. However, before you can improve your company's onboarding process, you need to understand where they often break down. Here are five common onboarding mistakes your business should try to avoid.

Confusing Orientation and Onboarding

The term "orientation" brings to mind a certain kind of meeting. New staff are asked to fill out benefits paperwork and are shown certain areas of the office, like the supply closet or break room. Orientation is an essential part of getting settled in to a new job, but it's low value. Orientations don't help new employees navigate the wider metaphorical workplace or succeed at their positions. Onboarding is a strategic process that's designed to integrate the new employee into the workplace and provide the training and knowledge that they need to thrive over the long term. If you're confusing the two, it's unlikely that your efforts yield the results you expect.

Not Starting Onboarding Before Day One

There's often a gap between when an employee accepts an offer and when they start working at the company. If there's no formal onboarding plan in place to help employees get excited, you're missing a valuable opportunity to kick off the process. Many companies start the process by sending a welcome package and onboarding schedule. The package can have fun objects such as branded company gear and in-depth materials to help employees immerse themselves in your company's processes and culture. It's also smart to have an employee's future manager or another senior company rep reach out to the new hire by phone or email to welcome them to the team. When they get to the office on day one, they'll more likely be ready to dive in.

Onboarding Program Doesn't Have a Big-Picture Objective

It's important that your onboarding process have a clear objective. A successful employee onboarding strategy is built around clear metrics for success. At a high level, employees need to get a sense of the company's mission, values, and most important strategic goals. It's also useful to help employees see how they connect to that bigger picture. Context is essential for creating a feeling of belonging and contribution to the company.

Onboarding Doesn't Prioritize Individual Success

There's no one-size-fits-all solution for onboarding. Companies should customize the process to their team, objectives and workforce situation. It's important to focus on high-level context and creating a sense of belonging. But ultimately the defining factor of a great onboarding process is helping each employee succeed. Map your onboarding process to the information, connections, training and insights that employees need to success. Use onboarding as a way to establish relationships and positive communication between employees, their managers, and colleagues. Look for ways to identify barriers to success in specific positions, and use onboarding as time to give new hires the tools needed to overcome them.

Approaching Onboarding Like an Event, Not a Process

Is your employee onboarding strategy anchored around one day? Many successful onboarding processes are an ongoing initiative. Once the initial program is over, look at ways to provide support and mentoring to new hires for six-months to a year. Find ways to involve as many people as necessary to help diversify new-hire perspectives and help new employees build networks within the company. Finally, establish feedback loops with new hires, managers and employees involved in the onboarding process to help identify gaps and opportunities for improvement.

An employee onboarding strategy may be essential for your company's ongoing performance, employee satisfaction, and retention. Make sure that your onboarding process isn't working against your business. Create a program that supports your employees' success, and it may help the company succeed as well.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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