One of the biggest mistakes we see a lot of businesses make in terms of onboarding is not using a learning management system to deliver key content. Along with not using a learning management system, another issue we frequently see is that businesses don’t have any onboarding strategy at all. Even when companies have an onboarding strategy, they may not be executing it optimally.
With those things in mind, we put together this overview of onboarding, why it’s important and some of the most common onboarding mistakes we see organizations making, beyond not using a learning management system.
What Is Onboarding?
First, you may have a general overview of what onboarding means, but do you know how it applies to even small businesses?
A lot of organizations confuse onboarding with employee orientation. Employee orientation is more about the paperwork and maybe giving a new employee a copy of the handbook. Onboarding is much more comprehensive, in-depth and strategic than that.
In top organizations that have strong onboarding programs, it can go on for the entire first year a person is with the company.
The goal of onboarding isn’t just to get a new employee familiar with their new environment and tell them the rules of the company. Onboarding is about engaging new employees and putting in place the elements that are going to ensure they stay on for the long-term. Onboarding should be about helping new employees understand not just their job role, but corporate culture, and it should be about reducing turnover.
SHRM says the onboarding process should have three primary components: acclimation, engagement, and retention. Is your onboarding program following this framework?
There are also some other ways to divide elements of an onboarding program, which are compliance, clarification, culture, and connection. Of those four elements, culture and connection are the most important for most new hires.
Why Is Onboarding Important?
If you’re not convinced of the importance of onboarding, think about the fact that one-third of new hires quit their job within the first six months. It can make a lot of organizations think twice if they’re not putting enough time and energy into onboarding. If you’re not focusing on onboarding, all of your recruitment and hiring efforts are basically useless.
A few other statistics you might want to mull over:
- 69 percent of employees are likely to stay with a new company for three years if they have a good onboarding experience
- When employees get the benefit of a structured onboarding program as new hires, they’re 58 percent more likely to still be with that company three years later
- When a company has a structured, standardized onboarding process, their new hires have 50 percent more productivity
What Are the Most Common Onboarding Mistakes?
Sometimes it’s more important to learn what not to do when it comes to onboarding, as opposed to focusing on what you should do.
- Not highlighting company values and culture: So much of onboarding at companies focuses on making sure employees know the rules and ensuring they’re prepared compliance-wise. Sure, compliance is important, but you want to convey more than that during onboarding. You want your new hires to know what your company is truly about at its core. You want to showcase your culture and your values, and you want to do so in a way that resonates with new hires. Along with ensuring employees learn about your mission and values, make onboarding about your company vision and goals. Make employees feel like they’re part of something more than just working at a job. Younger employees, in particular, tend to appreciate the feeling that they’re working in a place that shares their values.
- Failing to acclimate new employees: Starting a new job is intimidating, and managers don’t often consider that with onboarding. Sometimes the things new hires are most intimidated by can seem little, such as knowing where to park, or how things work in the break room. It’s important to include these little details that show the daily workings of a company to new hires during onboarding. Don’t assume they’ll know what to do. It can cause a lot of anxiety for new hires if they’re not sure on things like this. Also, when a new hire comes onboard, make sure you let everyone know they’re coming ahead of time. There are often situations where a new employee shows up, and no one was expecting them, so they don’t even know how to point them in the right direction.
- Not having a formalized program: We touched on this above, and it’s surprising how many businesses still don’t have a formalized, standard onboarding program. Onboarding might consist of an employee showing the new hire around, some paperwork and that’s it. It’s just not enough, and without a strategic onboarding plan and process, you’re more likely to lose your new hires relatively quickly.
- No point person: A new hire needs to be assigned a point person, who manages their onboarding and who is someone they can go to with questions or when they need clarity. It might be that this becomes somewhat like a mentoring program.
- Failing to conduct exit interviews: Sometimes what’s important for businesses is to learn from the employees who are leaving, yet exit interviews still don’t happen in many organizations. Use exit interviews from employees who leave as a valuable source of information related to onboarding to see how the process can be improved.
- Employees aren’t sure what’s expected of them: A lot of employees start work, and they know their general job role, but they aren’t sure exactly what’s expected of them. As soon as you hire someone new, you should not only have a formalized onboarding process, but also individualized job expectations especially for those first weeks and even months. For example, if you bring a full-time content writer onboard, let them know how many pieces of content you expect them to complete each week. You don’t want employees to end their first few days or weeks of work with the feeling that they have no idea whether or not they met expectations.
So, to sum it all up, where do you need to focus when it comes to a modern onboarding process? First, formalize it. Also, focus not just on things like compliance, but engagement and acclimation. Finally, make sure your new hires are specifically clear on what’s initially expected of them.