Mistakes to Avoid When Onboarding Employees


5 min read

Mistakes to Avoid When Onboarding Employees

Nikki Thorpe

Nikki Thorpe

Jan 4, 2017


    4 mistakes to avoid when onboarding employees

    Your employees are the backbone of your business. It is important that your employees feel invested in the company and supported in their professional growth. One of the best ways to make sure that your stuff feels like a part of a team is by providing excellent training.

    Most employees are familiar with the orientation. This usually happens on their first day of work when they fill out a lot of paperwork, get a tour of the facility, and meet their coworkers. While orientation is an important part of training, it should not be confused with the more involved process of onboarding.

    As you know, hourly positions often have high turnover rates. Some companies may not invest enough time and energy into onboarding their hourly employees. But we’re here to explain to you why, as the manager of hourly employees, you should spend time properly training and checking in with your new and the newly promoted staff.

    A great onboarding program can save you a lot of money and help you build a world-class establishment with dedicated employees.

    What is onboarding?

    Onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into their roles and into the culture of the workplace. Onboarding is also used when current employees move into new roles. It is a long-term process that takes place over the course of many months. This is what makes it different from a single orientation day.

    During onboarding, employees come to understand their responsibilities and how they fit into the larger organization. For example, if you hire a person into a wait staff position, he or she needs to know how to perform the job, but also how to interact with customers in a way that matches your restaurant’s goals and mission.

    The process of onboarding involves conversations and feedback, as well as hands-on training. During first several days, the employee will get to know process and teams, and you’ll want to check in about how that learning is going.

    When you hire a new front desk associate at your fitness center, he or she will learn to answer phones, greet customers, and sign-up new members. But that’s not all that should happen during onboarding. As the manager, you should have frequent conversations with the new associate to see if there are any questions or concerns about the job duties.

    Onboarding duties are shared between people in human resources, managers, onboarding partners (who are usually more experienced team members in the same role), and the new employee. The process is one of questioning, feedback, and training.

    Human resources personnel will help ensure that employment paperwork is completed and that the new employee is successfully and legally brought into the company. You, as the manager, are in charge of training and giving and receiving feedback.

    Onboarding partners are there to help the new employee integrate with the team and learn about day-to-day job functions. The employee is responsible for completing training, asking questions, and giving and receiving feedback.

    Why onboarding is beneficial

    Onboarding aligns employees with expectations of the role and the company. If the process is done right, it stands out as a positive experience for new employees and the rest of the staff. It shows the employee that you’re serious about training the right people and dedicated to helping employees feel successful in their roles.

    From a business standpoint, onboarding helps speed up the time it takes for employees to productively contribute. It takes 8-12 months for new hires to be as proficient as their tenured colleagues. For example, a barista who is receiving feedback and feels supported in asking questions will turn out more consistent drink orders with less supervision.

    In addition, turnover is expensive, it can cost a company up to 150% of the existing person’s salary, according to the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California Berkeley. Employees are likely to leave within 18 months if not integrated, supported, and prepared. “New employees who go through structured onboarding are 58% more likely to be with the organization three years later,” according to the Wynhurst Group.

    Onboarding mistakes to avoid

    When onboarding works, it supports your employees and your company in really beneficial ways. However, when onboarding is seen as simple training or orientation, you aren’t making the most out of the process. Here’s what to avoid when onboarding and tips streamlining the process:

    1. Not having a plan
      Everyone involved in the onboarding process should know their roles. In addition, the goals of the process should be clear and should support your company’s vision and mission.

    Part of having a plan is doing some work ahead of the employee’s first day. Consider emailing forms and the employee handbook ahead of time. In addition, work with IT to make sure that the new hire has functioning accounts on any software he or she will need to use. And don’t forget to set them up in your employee scheduling software.

    Before the first day, reach out and let the employee know where to park, what to wear, and who to ask for in lobby. In the office, be sure to let the rest of the staff know the employee is starting. When these things aren’t in place it makes a terrible impression on the new employee.

    Tip: Automate whatever parts of the process you can. Check out these HR software tools that help to streamline and personalize the onboarding process.

    1. Not giving enough support
      Each new employee should be assigned an onboarding partner. This person should know the role and how to support the employee throughout the first several months. Onboarding partners should be trained to give feedback, answer questions, and act as support systems. Don’t just assume the onboarding partner knows what to do.

    Due to scheduling, managers are not always available to work with new hires past the first day. This managerial absenteeism can make a new hire feel unimportant and confused. The onboarding partner should know how to include the new hire in company culture.

    Tip: Suggest that onboarding partners introduce new staff to the team and arrange for everyone to go out to lunch together.

    1. Not personalizing the onboarding process
      Everyone is different. Every new employee will start with different strengths and needs. These needs will not only vary from person to person but also from job to job. Your chefs will need different onboarding than your wait staff. Your personal trainers will need different onboarding than your social media specialists.

    Many businesses rely on short presentations and videos to provide important information about the job and the team to new hires. But this type of onboarding can make a new employee feel like they just need to sit there and receive information. The best onboarding programs include creating employee goals, receiving feedback from the employee, and tailoring the learning to the employee.

    Tip: Schedule daily and then weekly meetings with a new employee. After giving feedback, ask for the new employee questions such as: What is going well? How are you enjoying the role? What is different about the role than you thought? What are your expectations about the role now?

    1. Not following through
      Onboarding isn’t orientation, so it needs to continue for several months. In the case of structured, well-defined plans, onboarding can continue for up to a year. However, year-long plans can very easily get sidetracked as stakeholders get busy with new projects and employees seem to demonstrate competency. It’s simple to assume that an employee who is working out well doesn’t need any more onboarding, but you should change that mindset. Instead, assume that an employee is doing so well because of onboarding.

    Tip: Many organizations create checklists and timelines to help them organize the onboarding processing.

    Take Aways

    Onboarding can make a big difference for your business and your employees. When they’re happy, they’ll work hard and get results. Investing time and money into their continued development shows a deep commitment to your employees.

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