Onboarding new hires

Are You Making These Mistakes When Onboarding New Hires?

HR professionals, trainers, and anyone else involved in onboarding new hires should be implementing a structured onboarding process.

An onboarding program that is properly designed and implemented can help:


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  • Improve employee engagement
  • Increase productivity and performance
  • Boost long-term employee retention

And much more. 

However, there are a few mistakes that can hurt an onboarding program’s results.

Let’s look at some common pitfalls that can ruin onboarding efforts.

Top Mistakes to Avoid When Onboarding New Hires

The biggest pitfalls to avoid include…

Not automating

Automation can deliver major benefits to the modern, forward-thinking HR department.

With the right automation approach, new employee onboarding efforts can become:

  • Faster
  • More efficient
  • More effective
  • More affordable

Many aspects of the onboarding program can be automated, such as:

  • Paperwork and documentation
  • Correspondence and communication
  • Digital onboarding and training

With the right tools, such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs), HR professionals can slash their workload and make major improvements to the onboarding process.

Not using modern training methods

In the modern work world, perpetual learning is fast-becoming the norm.

To keep up with the pace of change, employees must continuously learn new skills – and organizations must find ways to train them.

Traditionally, training has been delivered in person, through classrooms or via on-the-job apprenticeships.

However, the fast-paced work world demands a different approach. 

Traditional training techniques are problematic for several reasons:

  • Human-led training is too costly and cannot be scaled
  • Software is constantly being updated, which means that training material must also be constantly updated
  • Video courses, text, audio, and other content cannot be personalized, which means employees must learn extraneous information that never gets used

Digital adoption platforms, mentioned above, overcome the limitations listed above.

Because they are automated and personalized, they can operate efficiently and effectively at any scale.

Not preparing workspaces – physical or digital

The new hire’s first day on the job is easily one of the most important.

After all, during the first day:

  • Employees form their first impression of the organization, their new job, and their team
  • A new hire must become oriented to the digital work environment, the social work environment, and so forth
  • The pace and tone is set for the rest of the onboarding process … if not their entire tenure at the company

Unfortunately, however, some organizations fail to properly prepare a workspace for newly hired employees.

This can make a poor impression, make it difficult for them to acclimate, which can increase stress levels.

To prevent such problems, HR professionals and the employee’s department should prepare a workspace by:

  • Ensuring that employees are provided with a desk and all the tools they need, such as a computer, a telephone, and office supplies
  • Setting up all relevant digital accounts beforehand
  • Providing employees with contact information for HR, managers, and other support staff
  • Preparing coworkers by explaining the new hire’s role and where they will fit in

The right preparation can make a huge difference in how the new hire is received and how they perceive the new workplace – which will, in turn, affect their engagement and performance.

Not optimizing the onboarding program

Onboarding efforts can have significant benefits for employees, but only if they are structured appropriately and optimized.

In other words, an onboarding program should be:

  • Data-driven. The right use of data, as we will see below, will keep a program centered around employees’ needs and quantifiable performance metrics.
  • Adaptable and flexible. Agility is a must in the modern organization, so HR professionals should adopt mindsets and business practices that are based on responsiveness, not static procedures.
  • Built around specific performance goals. Onboarding can impact specific employee metrics, such as employee productivity, time-to-competency, employee engagement, and employee retention. To understand the impact of onboarding efforts, these goals must be targeted and tracked.

To effectively optimize an onboarding program:

  • Understand the potential benefits of employee onboarding
  • Setting clear, achievable goals
  • Defining metrics and KPIs to track performance
  • Collecting data and employee feedback
  • Analyzing that information to gain insights into the onboarding program’s performance
  • Making adjustments as necessary

The more well-structured and sophisticated the onboarding effort – and the more it is optimized over time – the better the outcomes will be.

Not learning from employees

Employee data can provide a valuable lens into the effectiveness of the onboarding program.

It should not be the only data source, of course.

But understanding the employee experience from their eyes will help HR professionals design an onboarding program that is relevant and useful.

There are several ways to keep an onboarding effort centered around employees:

  • Connect with them in person to learn about their needs and perspectives
  • Use software analytics to better understand software onboarding and training needs
  • Conduct post-exit surveys when employees leave a company, to learn why they left and what to improve

Taking a data-driven approach to onboarding new hires can help reduce bias and keep programs focused on real-world information, rather than preconceived notions.

As a result, HR professionals will be able to keep employees happier – while also adding more value to the organization.

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