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Are You Guilty? 7 Employee Onboarding Mistakes

Are You Guilty? 7 Employee Onboarding Mistakes
Summary: Seven employee onboarding mistakes you need to avoid. Retain your employees to have better productivity and lower turnover cost.

7 Employee Onboarding Mistakes To Avoid

Gallup confirmed 88% of new recruits think their employers had a poor onboarding process. People with a negative onboarding experience are twice as likely to immediately search for new jobs than the ones with a positive experience [1].

Never make the same mistake. In the next 5 minutes, learn the top 7 employee onboarding mistakes to avoid:

  • Delayed onboarding
  • No pre-boarding
  • Lack of structure
  • No feedback loop
  • Unclear goals
  • Information overload
  • Not addressing generational and cultural differences

Note: This information is true at the time of writing. That’s January 2022.

1. Delayed Onboarding

83% of the most successful companies begin the onboarding even before a new hire enters the company premises [2]. And for the right reasons. Employees feel ignored and adrift when the onboarding process isn’t a priority.

Poor onboarding can result in employee turnover. Employee turnover can cost a company up to 300% of the employee’s salary [3]. Avoid the issue by creating a detailed schedule for what needs to be done each day. Make sure the employee:

  • Knows which documents to bring, such as passport or proof of residency
  • Knows the rules and regulations
  • Is familiar with the building and workstation
  • Knows the dress code
  • Knows where to park their car

You can assign an "onboarding buddy" who’ll help the new employee.

2. No Pre-Boarding

The pre-boarding process is carried out from the day when a new hire signs the offer letter to the day they begin to work. A strong pre-boarding process:

  • Helps new employees meet and build relationships with colleagues
  • Builds employee loyalty
  • Prevents employee turnover

During the pre-boarding process, make sure you:

  • Share the company culture and rules and regulations with the employee. Furthermore, ask the employee for feedback on the recruitment process.
  • Share all the necessary paperwork at least a week before the employee’s joining date. The employee will have enough time to read, understand, and ask questions about the documentation.
  • Help them with setting up required accounts. The process includes setting up their email account, creating a personalized email signature, and creating necessary folders.
  • Share the company organizational chart. The chart will help the new employee understand the internal reporting structure, roles, responsibilities, and work relationships with colleagues.

3. Lack Of Structure

Over one in five companies don’t have a formal onboarding program [4]. Never be one of them. Furthermore, most onboarding programs are tedious. The new employee arrives to find stashes of paper they need to fill, including tax and health insurance forms. They join their colleagues for lunch, and then everyone leaves them to figure things out alone.

The result? The employee feels isolated and hesitates about what they should do next. Instead, offer a structured path for the new hire. You must:

  • Introduce the employee to the company’s structure, hierarchy, vision, mission, and values.
  • Share the pertinent administrative procedures. Furthermore, you must offer training whenever needed.
  • Share the employee handbook with vital policies highlighted.

Carry out the process over a week so that the information doesn’t overwhelm the employee.

4. No Feedback Loop

Companies that gather regular feedback have a 14.9% lower turnover rate than companies that don’t [4]. When an authoritative figure such as the CEO asks for a new employee’s opinion, the employee feels valued. Furthermore, if you implement the feedback the employee offers, they’ll feel you view them as an asset. Thus, employees will show better productivity and loyalty to the company.

Use a pop-up survey, one-on-one or group meetings, and one-on-one or group calls to gather feedback [5]. You can ask the following questions:

  • Has the company provided you with every resource you need to do your job?
  • What changes should we make in our onboarding process? Why?
  • Do you know whom to ask if you have any questions about the work?
  • Do you feel comfortable asking questions in the workspace?
  • Do you feel we value your effort?

5. Unclear Goals

Only 50% of employees understand their employer’s expectations [4]. Furthermore, employees are 2.8 times more productive when goals are clear. You can establish clear goals and accountability by:

  • Sharing a precise job description
  • Sharing KPIs to demonstrate success in regular intervals—30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and in a year
  • Regularly checking in on the employee’s progress
  • Reinforcing critical concepts
  • Requesting feedback to see which aspects can be improved
  • Offering rewards and recognition for achieving desired results

6. Information Overload

Information overload is one of the top challenges new employees face [6]. Thus, never try to cram every bit of information into the first week—or worse, the first day—and expect the employee to figure out everything themselves afterward.

You can set up a "New Employee FAQ" page on the company website to answer common questions such as:

  • When is payday?
  • What is the work-from-home policy?
  • What to do if an employee needs to call in sick?

Furthermore, HR must set up regular meetings to answer questions or address difficulties.

7. Not Addressing Generational And Cultural Differences

From the Silent Generation to Gen Z, five generations are at work today [7]. Not all of these employees feel motivated about the same things. A fresher just out of college is more interested to know if the company will help clear their student loans. An employee in their mid-forties might be more interested in healthcare insurance. Thus, you must know what motivates an employee and use the knowledge to your advantage.

Avoid Employee Onboarding Mistakes To Retain Employees

A Brandon Hall Group study confirmed a company can increase the new hire retention rate by 82%. Furthermore, the Human Capital Institute confirmed a strong onboarding strategy boosts productivity by 70% [8]. In this article, you’ve learned:

  • Why you shouldn’t delay the onboarding process
  • Why pre-boarding is essential
  • Why structure is important
  • Why you should collect and give feedback
  • Why clear goals are necessary
  • Why you shouldn’t share too much information
  • Why you should address generational and cultural differences

The knowledge will help you make informed decisions.


[1] Super CIO: What the CIO sees—that other people don't

[2] 10 Common Mistakes Made During Employee Onboarding

[3] What Does Poor Onboarding Really Do to Your Team?

[4] 5 most common mistakes that companies make during their Onboarding process

[5] Pop-Up Surveys: Everything You Need to Know

[6] HR Industry Benchmark Survey Report 2019

[7] Generational Differences At Work Are Small. Thinking They’re Big Affects Our Behavior

[8] The 9 Most Common Onboarding Mistakes & Problems to Avoid in 2021