3 mistakes you must avoid when onboarding new employees

By Liz Greene

When it comes to onboarding new employees, if you fail to do it effectively, employee retention and engagement will tank. According to a study by Equifax Workforce Solutions, 40 percent of turnover happens within the first six months, with another 10 percent of new employees leaving before they reach their first anniversary. That means half of your new hires are fleeing your company within a year of being onboarded. Not only is that concerning, it’s expensive!

These statistics show why it’s more important than ever to engage employees from day one. When onboarding new hires, here are the three biggest mistakes to avoid:

Failing to train them properly

So often training is viewed as an unnecessary expense rather than an investment. This is truly unfortunate, as untrained employees lack the knowledge they need to do their jobs properly. This lack of knowledge has a marked effect on efficiency, productivity, employee engagement, customer service, and ultimately, your bottom line. Simply put, if you fail to train your employees, your clients and your will suffer.

Let’s dig into this a little deeper.

Improperly trained employees are unhappy employees. Without the knowledge and tools they need to do their job well, they feel underutilized and become easily frustrated. As they make more mistakes and fail to meet the minimum standards, they begin to feel as if their success – and they themselves – don’t really matter to the company. As this feeling of ingratitude grows, engagement and loyalty to the company plummets. At this point, they either quit or get fired for poor performance. Of employees who leave in the first six months, 21 percent say they needed more effective training.

Many organizations labor under the misconception that providing training will lead to employees moving on to other companies. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is, with the right training, employees feel as if they are valued. They’re happier in their jobs and more loyal to the company. Proper training also leads to greater employee efficiency. Well-trained employees better understand their jobs and can work autonomously without constantly needing to seek help from their managers.

Neglecting to set them up with a mentor

Most employee training is considered to be informal – meaning that it’s not gained through assigned reading or classes. This informal training often takes the form of learning from others while on the job. Companies can increase the effectiveness of this “on the job” training by introducing a mentor program, wherein new hires are partnered with a experienced employee during their first three months of employment.

Since the mentor knows the ropes, the new employee will have access to advice, guidance, encouragement, resources, and honest feedback, effectively shortening the learning curve. This means that the company ends up with highly productive employees in a much shorter period of time than they would have had a mentoring program not been in place.

A mentor provides personalized advice to their mentee, ensuring that new hires can work through the frustrations and concerns typical of the first 30 days in a job. Mentors can help them build the skills they need to be successful, and encourage them to stay with the company and continue to grow. In this way, mentoring programs keep employee turnover rates low, avoiding the financial burden of training new employees to replace those who left.

New employees have a lot of questions, and mentors can help them find the answers they’re looking for. This improves productivity by reducing the amount of time it takes to get tasks finished. Furthermore, it allows managers to shift their focus to the tasks more imperative to the success of the company. Mentorship also helps new employees from feeling isolated at work. Mentors can introduce new hires to their coworkers and encourage them to interact with those who share their interests. Mentors also make for great sounding boards, acting as a sympathetic ear when the new employee needs to vent and offering guidance when needed.

Forgetting to check in with them

Easily the most vital part to a successful onboarding process is regularly checking in with the new employee. Even if they have formal training and a mentor, they still need management to routinely touch base with them.

Depending on their management style, managers can either schedule formal meetings or they can simply stop by the employee’s workspace. The aim of these one-on-ones is to gauge how the new hire is getting along and determine how management can be of service to them. Some questions that can be asked:

  • Do you feel you understand your job description?
  • Are you doing what you feel you were hired to do?
  • Do you need any further training?
  • Have there been any surprises?
  • Have you made friends?
  • How can I help you succeed?

The manager should take detailed notes during this process while still remaining engrossed in the conversation. They should provide what guidance they can, as well as impart any relevant information, but most importantly, they should be prepared to act on whatever feedback they receive from the employee. Again, these meetings are for the employee’s benefit, and should serve to set them up with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed.

Proper training, open communication, and a strong support system are key in keeping employees engaged. And, since highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their company than their disengaged counterparts, employee engagement should be your number one goal. Take some time to look closely at your onboarding process. Identify the weaknesses and make the changes necessary to ensure employee engagement and retention are the ultimate outcome.

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Liz Greene 300x300Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.

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