7 Employee Onboarding Problems Companies Can Avoid

A robust and structured onboarding process can create the framework for employee success.

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5 Onboarding Problems and How To Prevent Them
Learn how to solve the 5 most common onboarding issues

Here's how to prevent onboarding problems:

  • Demonstrate that you have a plan and will work with the employee to help them perform well
  • Stagger information, and give employees time to understand and master aspects of their job
  • Customize onboarding to roles to be effective
  • Track KPIs such as new hire satisfaction
  • Explain the reason behind mission and vision statements and how values apply to their work

An employee’s first few months with your company can dramatically impact their long-term prospects of success.

The best onboarding process gets your new hires up to speed quickly. Valuable education, information, tools, and training help them hit the ground running. Yet, there are several onboarding problems most companies face that can hinder a new hire’s progress.

Recognizing common employee onboarding challenges helps employers address and mitigate them before they turn into onboarding problems. Let’s examine the critical role onboarding plays and the most prevalent onboarding issues plaguing the process.

The critical role of employee onboarding

An effective employee onboarding process helps increase employee engagement, hasten ramp-up time, and create a smooth transition that reduces employee turnover. Companies that don’t invest in a formal onboarding program may struggle to realize these benefits.

When you have problems onboarding new employees, you’re shortchanging your business. It can take a year or more for new employees to become as efficient as their team members. A robust onboarding process can cut that time significantly and increase productivity.

Address these common onboarding problems for a positive employee onboarding experience

With all the positives associated with a strong onboarding program, you may wonder why so many companies don’t have one.

There’s a host of reasons why, including:

  • Greater (perceived) priorities of the business.
  • Lack of time.
  • No supporting managers to conduct onboarding.
  • A lack of process or onboarding framework.
  • Pressures to get a new hire working quickly.

Here are 7 of the most common employee onboarding issues to strive to avoid.

1. Lack of a formal onboarding process

Your company may have a casual and unstructured culture, but it should still have a formal onboarding process.

Creating a definitive onboarding process demonstrates to a new hire that you have a plan. It also proves you’ll help them perform well in their new role. Proper onboarding instills confidence in the company and increases new employee satisfaction. A poor onboarding plan can make you look disorganized and like you don’t care.

Want to learn more about what should be part of your onboarding program? We’ve developed an employee onboarding checklist to help you.

2. The onboarding process is too short

Some companies jam too much information into a short period. This can leave employees feeling overwhelmed. A structured onboarding program staggers information. It offers segments of employee training, giving trainees time to understand and master their job role. It then uses that as a foundation to build the next level of competencies.

Work these days has also gotten significantly more technical. Scant onboarding processes set unrealistic expectations, which can damage employee morale.

3. Not taking the employee experience into account

Employee hiring and onboarding should be about the new staff, but many companies make it about their organization. The process must center around the employee’s perspective.

Successful talent acquisition involves selecting candidates most likely to grow with the company and contribute positively to the organization.

A successful employee onboarding process should consider:

  • Why they were hired in the first place.
  • Who they need to know to be successful.
  • How they can effectively integrate into the current workflow.
  • Job training and mentorship opportunities to reduce friction.
  • What new employees will need to be successful in 3 months, 6 months, and a year.

HR’s focus for onboarding should be more on supporting employee success than how to get them working at full capacity. The sooner an employee feels comfortable in their new workplace, the faster they adapt.

4. Not updating or measuring the onboarding process

Have you reviewed your onboarding process to make sure it’s still current? For example, as companies have switched to more remote or distributed workflow, does your virtual onboarding process still capture all the elements needed for success?

An important aspect of any program is judging its success. Do you measure outcomes? If not, how will you know if you need to make adjustments?

A strong onboarding program will track onboarding metrics and key performance indicators like:

  • New hire satisfaction.
  • New hire retention.
  • Training completion rates.
  • Employee engagement over time.
  • Time to productivity.

At each step, determine the ROI of your onboarding efforts to isolate areas where you can improve.

5. Too many manual onboarding workflows

While human interaction is vital for parts of the onboarding process, automation helps create a smooth transition for the employee. Powerful HR and onboarding software can handle many time-consuming manual processes.

Consider an automated onboarding tool to make the employee onboarding experience as simple as possible. Not only can this dramatically improve the employee experience. It also simplifies work for HR teams and makes virtual onboarding a cinch.

6. Failing to focus on the company culture

Another obstacle to onboarding programs is the lack of emphasis on the social aspect of work. Company culture is often one of the most important elements of a new job. The onboarding experience should provide opportunity for the new hire to establish positive and lasting relationships with colleagues and managers. Consider hosting a meet and greet or team-building exercises as onboarding tasks.

7. Communication disconnects

It’s critical to have proper open communication throughout the onboarding process. Poor onboarding practices, such as establishing poor connection and unclear expectations, can induce frustration, low productivity, and unreliable performance management. Organizations that don’t provide easy access to HR professionals or hiring managers raise the risk of a poor onboarding experience. A new employee who can’t turn to someone for help may ask current employees who lack the information or time to assist them.

A successful onboarding process ensures communication is never an issue. Using a manual communication channel, such as phones and basic email, can get messy. Having HR software with communication features, such as feedback loops and surveys, helps streamline processes and promote higher employee engagement.

Understanding these common onboarding challenges can help your company avoid the damage they could do to your onboarding program.

For more on how to create your own effective onboarding program, read our definitive guide to employee onboarding now.

For ongoing HR and business management tips, tools, and resources, visit Workest by Zenefits daily.


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