6 Employee Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid

Some of the most common employee onboarding mistakes can have critical consequences. Fortunately, they’re easy to avoid. Here’s what to consider.

Bookmark (0)

No account yet? Register


Once an organization hires a job candidate, and the candidate accepts the new position, the effort shouldn’t end there. The new employee won’t magically step into the role, seamlessly performing tasks and meshing with the company culture. It’s time for the onboarding process to begin.

Onboarding is the way new hires are integrated into the company. Unfortunately, nuance is often overlooked due to other work demands and priorities. New hires who aren’t properly onboarded can feel frustrated and confused and wonder if they made a good decision. Conversely, numerous studies and surveys have found that employees who receive effective onboarding are more prepared, connected, productive and satisfied.

There are several common onboarding mistakes even successful organizations make with their new employees. These missteps can cause serious issues, from a negative onboarding experience to increased employee turnover. This article explores 6 common mistakes made during the onboarding process and tips for HR professionals to avoid them.

1. Not being prepared

A new hire walks into the building and oh no, nobody is there to greet them. If there isn’t a company representative ready to escort the new team member through their 1st week, what does that say about how the company’s going to value that person?

How to avoid this: The hiring manager should either handle or assign someone to onboard the new hire. Have a planned itinerary for the 1st few days or weeks. Outline where and with whom the new hire will be throughout the day. Share the detailed schedule with the new employee as part of a pre-onboarding process, so they’ll know what to expect. A plan can go a long way toward calming their jitters and making them feel their time was spent productively.

2. Being too busy for the new employee

Another of onboarding’s common pitfalls is that nobody in the company has the time to deal with the new person. Sitting a new worker in someone’s office while they’re on another call is not employee onboarding; it’s wasting their time. If treated this way, the new talent likely won’t consider it a positive experience.

How to avoid this: Clear time from the onboarder’s schedule to spend with the company’s newest addition. A good onboarding software solution can help by automating certain onboarding tasks to free up time for others. Ideally, HR handles the onboarding. If they can’t, assign it to another knowledgeable person who’ll be accountable.

If there’s nobody who can handle the entire process, break it up between a few people. One person can onboard in the morning, the other in the afternoon. However it’s done, just don’t make the new employee wonder, Why am I even here?

3. Employee isolation

Some people think giving a new employee a bunch of company information to read and sticking them in an empty cube is a good onboarding program. Not so. New hires are undoubtedly excited about meeting their coworkers and learning about their particular role. Failing to capture this enthusiasm by piling on reading material is among the top onboarding mistakes.

How to avoid this: Keep the new team member engaged with other employees for most of their onboarding time. Yes, there may be required reading, but it shouldn’t be the majority of the onboarding process. The new person should feel like they’re building relationships with colleagues in the 1st few days. That’ll help them feel confident they made the right choice. This takes face-to-face time with other people.

4. Uncertainty about goals and expectations

Another one of the top onboarding mistakes to avoid is to focus on surface tasks and socialization without diving into the new job. While getting to know coworkers is important, other factors should be included in the onboarding strategy. The new employee will need to know where and how to focus their efforts once onboarding is over.

How to avoid this: Somewhere in the onboarding process, the new hire must meet with their manager to learn more about the position, goals, and expectations. Setting clear expectations and communicating them effectively is one of the best ways to help forge long-term employee satisfaction.

5. Chaotic or messy work environment

Cramped, unclean, loud, or otherwise unpleasant working environments are big no-nos during onboarding. Big project deadlines aside, there’s no excuse for the workspace to be cluttered and messy.

How to avoid this: Check with other team members in advance to ensure there aren’t other activities planned that will cause chaos and disarray. The new hire should also be assigned a fully equipped workspace they can settle into on day 1.

6. Not providing sufficient tools and support

Another poor onboarding move is failing to provide the new hire with what they’ll need to maintain good job performance. Missing technology, laptops without the necessary apps, and broken or old desk chairs can give the wrong impression. And impressions matter. A lack of support may create an immediate barrier to critical employee engagement.

How to avoid this: Secure a suitable workspace for your newest team member. Make it close to their team and contain all the required job-related tools. Get input and assistance from IT, marketing, and/or other departments as needed. Don’t wait for the new hire’s 1st day to get this together.

Mastering the onboarding process is key to maximizing the efforts made during the recruitment process and enhancing the employee experience. Employers who plan to avoid these common mistakes set themselves up for onboarding success.

For ongoing support on your HR or employer journey, count on tips, tools, and resources from Workest by Zenefits.

Bookmark (0)

No account yet? Register

Might also interest you