Posted January 27, 2011 by

Common Onboarding Mistakes Employers Should Avoid

It’s never easy starting a new entry level job. Feeling confused about what’s expected of you or who is your immediate supervisor, only add to feelings of unease in the first few weeks. Dr. John Sullivan, in his article for ERE, “Onboarding Program Killers: 15 Common Errors to Avoid,” says poor onboarding practices can cost companies talented employees.
“When managed well, onboarding programs can have a dramatic and measurable impact on employee productivity, retention, employment brand, service/product quality, workplace safety, and future hiring success,” Sullivan advises.
“[M]ost programs have boiled onboarding activities down to all but the bare bones of administration. Every new hire, transfer, or merged/acquired employee gets the same information, on the same timeline, via the same channel,” he adds.
Sullivan has a list of 15 common onboarding errors employers should avoid if they want to retain the top candidates they went to so much trouble and expense to hire in the first place:

  1. The wrong definition and limited goals.
  2. Overloading new hires.
  3. Failing to extend the timeframe.
  4. Not offering onboarding at multiple organizational levels.The five organizational “levels” of onboarding include:

    • Corporate level. Covering signups and corporate-wide values.
    • Location level. Covering information and issues related to the country/region and the plant/facility where the new hire will be working.
    • Departmental level. This level covers things related to the department the new hire is joining.
    • Team/Job level. Covers things related to this person’s work team and job.
    • Individual level. Covers things at the team level that relate to the unique and diverse needs of this individual.

  5. Unidirectional information.
  6. No metrics or accountability.
  7. Ignoring diverse needs.
  8. A face-to-face approach. Sullivan recommends having “all necessary onboarding information” available online to accomodate people who work remotely and to save time and money.
  9. A lack of integration.
  10. Failing to make the manager’s expectations clear.
  11. Their manager is not present.
  12. No compelling business case.
  13. Run by benefits.
  14. Failing to reinforce the employment brand.
  15. Delays in offering onboarding.

Sullivan went on to detail problems and weaknesses in the administration of onboarding programs. Effective onboarding programs are key to employee retention. New hires who feel lost or disregarded aren’t likely to stay very long so Sullivan advises employers to assess their program designs to ensure that they are rich with critical success factors and that they steer clear of program killers.
It’s important to note that entry level job candidates sometimes come from companies’ internship programs so how they welcome and orient interns might serve as a clue to what their new hire onboarding programs might be like.

Originally posted by Candice A

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