Onboarding Red Flags: How to Tell if Your New Hire is a Bust

Dec 4, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Onboarding new hires, when done right, is one of the best parts of the hiring process.

Who doesn’t like introducing a new worker to all of their fellow employees and showing them around the office without having to worry about the forms they’ve signed?

But, when you get caught up in showing someone the ropes, there’s a chance you’re ignoring the signs your newest hire was a bad idea. Here are some of the signs you should be looking for:

1. They’re not motivated

I understand employees don’t learn everything about their job in the first few months. In fact, it can take up to a year for new hires to gain proficiency comparable to their co-workers.

That’s fine! Effective onboarding is a much longer process than many companies give it credit for, and one of the best ways to ensure you made a great hire is to allow them to grow at their own pace.

But at some point, you have to start wondering if a new hire’s lack of overall productivity is coming from the fact they’re still green on the job, or, if they’re simply not the productive employee you hoped they would be.

The specifics are different for every company, but if you find that your new hire has consistently failed to meet their goals even a year after, you have to start thinking about whether “they are new” is still a valid excuse.

2. They’re asking the wrong questions

Learning all the ins and outs of company policy is tricky. As someone who’s had to deal with their fair share of legal employee requirements, I know this more than just about anyone.

So, it’s not uncommon to get questions from employees (and sometimes, the employers themselves) about the rules of their workplace. For example, what’s the company policy on doctor visits — are they paid days off?

The problem with this comes when a new hire is asking the kinds of questions signifying they’re thinking about their way out.

With 31 percent of people having quit a job within the first six (6) months, it’s not uncommon for new hires to try to get their best benefits out of the way before they leave.

Are they asking about your severance pay? Are they asking if they can schedule four doctor’s appointments in one week? Then you might want to see if your new hire’s productivity matches their enthusiasm for benefits.

3. They’re total jerks

So maybe they’re pretty good at their job — high-performers, even. They’re not looking at the door every few minutes.

But, if your new hire’s turned out to be a jerk, you’ve made as big a mistake as if they were unproductive or flakey. Being a jerk is arguably worse than either of the previous two reasons.

You may think working with a jerk is fine if their numbers are good, but what you don’t notice is that they bring everyone around them down. And not just when it comes to mood, either; 40 percent of employees say working with unpleasant people lowers productivity.

So when you’re tolerating a jerk because they’re a good worker, think about this: Does their phenomenal work ethic make up for the reduced productivity of everyone around them? Chances are it doesn’t, so go back to the drawing board and get a new hire.

Maybe time to start on boarding again

No matter how in love you are with your onboarding process, you shouldn’t have to go through it more than necessary.

When your candidates aren’t meeting expectations, don’t look like they’re going to stick around too long or bring everyone down and act like jerks, then it’s better to look into why that is, give ‘em the boot when necessary, and start your onboarding anew.

You’ll be glad you did.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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