When it comes to the employee lifecycle, no period of time is more important than those first few days and months in a new job. Both the employee and the organization want to start off on the right foot, making a good impression. Most new hires join an organization with a sincere desire to have an immediate, positive impact. They bring an enthusiasm and energy that is contagious.
This excitement can be a competitive advantage accessible to every employer willing to invest in the strategic design and deployment of a new-hire onboarding experience. Unfortunately – and all too often –the onboarding ball is dropped, and despite even the best intentioned managers, the employee winds up disappointed and even disengaged.
In fact, new research from Kronos Incorporated and the Human Capital Institute found 76% of HR leaders say onboarding practices are underutilized at their organization. More time is spent on paperwork than people-oriented exercises, and 36% of all companies report having insufficient technology to automate or organize the onboarding process.
Here are five common onboarding mistakes that organizations can avoid to preserve new hire momentum:
1. No clear ownership
If no one knows who ultimately owns onboarding, it’s likely that critical elements of the process are going to fall through the cracks. When HR thinks the new employee’s manager is taking the lead, and the manager thinks HR is on it, it’s often the employee who misses out and perhaps even worse, doesn’t know who to approach about the lack of information he or she is receiving. Spelling out clearly who owns which aspect of the process and making sure it’s a cross-functional team that shares responsibility should help ensure that your new employee feels taken care of and valued from day one.
2. Ill-equipped managers
HR may set the strategy and expectations for onboarding, but managers usually execute the process. However, they frequently lack sufficient time and bandwidth to do it alone. More than half (57%) of survey respondents believe that the lack of bandwidth for people managers is a significant barrier to improving the onboarding process. Consistent and collaborative onboarding programs should reduce manager workloads. Self-onboarding strategies, embedded content within online training, and onboarding platforms with interactive checklists, can minimize the over-tasking of managers and co-workers. Sharing key tasks across a cross-functional team or with a specialized onboarding team can also help to ease these burdens.
3. No long-term plan
Many organizations don’t dedicate enough time to onboarding to fully maximize new hire potential:
- 37% say onboarding lasts from just few hours to only one week;
- 24% use a month-long onboarding process;
- 10% view onboarding as a year-long or ongoing activity.
When you think about the fact that 22% of new hires leave their jobs in the first 45 days, the need to pay special attention to these folks for more than a few days becomes clear. The Human Capital Institute found that successful onboarding programs can reduce turnover, shorten time to proficiency, and increase productivity and employee engagement. With all of these valuable benefits, why wouldn’t your organization want to devote more time to getting it right?
4. No way to measure success – or failure
As the old saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” And yet, 55% of companies do not measure the effectiveness of their onboarding. This means they miss out on hearing from employees and managers about what’s working well in the process and what might need improvement. Organizations that design onboarding programs with explicit goals in mind and measure success – and failure – along the way will tend to experience more positive results overall.
5. Burdensome paperwork
All effective onboarding programs contain elements of the three Ps: people, performance, and paperwork. Unfortunately, it’s that third P, “paperwork,” that can take over an employee’s first days and weeks on the job creating a lackluster onboarding experience. Paperwork can be minimized through the use of technology and self-service, freeing up time and resources that can be spent on people and performance components, which have the greatest impact on organizational outcomes. Currently, nearly 39% of organizations do not have the right onboarding technology in place to improve accountability, ensure consistency, and reduce administrative burdens. About a third (36%) blame insufficient technology for their inability to automate and better organize onboarding programs, further inhibiting their ability to train managers in onboarding best practices.
Organizations spend a lot of time and money to find and hire the best employees possible. Why then are so many of these same employees left to their own devices to figure things out once hired? By designing a long-term plan with goals built in and measurement as a key component, identifying a cross-functional team of people to support the onboarding process, and investing in technology to help automate the most administratively burdensome aspects of the process, organizations can harness the momentum of new hires and leverage it for success.