6 Reasons Employee Onboarding Is Broken

6 reasons why onboarding is broken

You finally signed the contract with just the right person, happy days! Both you and the new hire are ecstatic, eagerly awaiting their first day. The new day comes and the new hire is happy, enthusiastic and loving life. But after a few weeks something changes. That brightful and cheerful greeting gives a way for a blank frustrated gaze, what happened?

It sounds like you’re facing new hire blues (which also goes under the name “onboarding failure”). It’s a common thing and costs companies more than they know.

Gallup finds that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees

This isn’t uncommon and something that happens in both mature companies and young startups. This is especially clear in fast-growing startups. As the company starts to take off it needs to staff up at a blistering pace. Recruiters are brought in, headcount grows and all that while the HR department remains small and understaffed. As more people are brought into the organisation the results of a malfunctioning onboarding start appearing everywhere. Turnover increases, time to productivity soars and the culture starts changing. Let’s investigate some of the main reasons employee onboarding is broken and look into a few techniques for building a better onboarding program.

Onboarding involves multiple people and departments.

Helping a new employee onboard doesn’t only involve HR. Most often multiple different stakeholders internally are involved. In today’s onboarding processes it isn’t uncommon that the direct manager, a buddy, the IT department, office management and others are involved. Think about the last time you brought someone new in. The chain of events starts as soon as the contract is signed and tasks are quickly moved from one person and department to another. This doesn’t only take time but also increases the risk of things falling behind. The last thing you want to happen is that the new employee comes to their first day and thinks aren’t prepared for them.

More than 1/3 of respondents in the ServiceNow report said five to ten departments are involved in onboarding at their company.

Onboarding causes frustration and irritation

It’s no surprise that once you get multiple people and departments involved, the entire onboarding process becomes more complex. Nearly one third of managers said it takes ten or more interactions to get ready for an employee’s first day on the job.  Often there is one person that tries to manage the entire process which becomes unsustainable as soon as the company starts recruiting a few people every month or quarter. Who should get what and by when?

At the same time it isn’t really feasible for today’s modern companies to have people solely focused on manually onboarding  new hires. Another problem with that approach is that if that person moves on from the company, their successor has to start all over again from scratch.

69% of managers describe onboarding as time-consuming and 49% say it’s frustrating!

Onboarding is too short

Yes, you read correctly. At most companies employee onboarding is way too short. The problem for many companies is that the lines between employee onboarding and orientation get blurred. Also orientation isn’t employee onboarding and vice versa, they should rather be seen as a compliment.

At most companies, the so-called onboarding process (but what is really just orientation) lasts only a day or at most a week, even though it takes an average of eight months for an employee to become fully productive.

But some companies that understand the distinction between orientation and onboarding and invest in the long-term process tend to be more successful.

The Aberdeen Group found that 30% of the best companies (industry leaders when it comes to onboarding and retention) extend the onboarding process beyond six months, compared to only 10% of laggard companies (companies whose practices are significantly behind the industry average).

It’s a challenge initially for sure, but by taking the time to build out a long-term strategy for onboarding it will improve employee satisfaction and your company’s overall performance.

Onboarding doesn’t support new hires enough

The first weeks and months are crucial for an employee’s success at your company. This is the time when a vast majority of the new employees are evaluating their decision of joining the company and if they will stick around or not.

ServiceNow survey found that about 80 percent of workers experienced some issues when starting a new job, HR Dive reports. One in 10 new hires reported that their new employer completely forgot it was their first day.

Learning a new organisations way of working, meeting new colleagues, navigating a completely new IT environment, are all massive tasks a new hire needs to overcome and just leaving them to “figure things out” themselves is going to result in disaster and unnecessarily high turnover.

The reasons that many employees choose to leave before hitting the six-month are due to the lack of clear guidelines to what my responsibilities are. Twenty-three percent of those who left within this timeframe said that was the main reason. In other words, these employees were not properly onboarded.

Onboarding takes time away from strategic tasks.

A 2017 Survey by ServiceNow revealed that 9/10 managers spend significant amounts of time on administrative tasks. What is even more shocking is that your average manager spends upward of 15 hours or two full days every week on these kinds of tasks, among them onboarding. This is significantly impacting their ability to take on more strategic, high value tasks.

Onboarding isn’t properly evaluated

So now that we’ve identified some of the biggest problems with onboarding, what can one do to overcome them? The most important step to start with as to automate as many processes as possible and start evaluating it.

Make sure to gather continuous feedback during the process and make it on a monthly basis during the first 4-5 month to make sure to spot any issues. This will also enable one to refine the process and improve it for new hires.

If you’d really like to take your onboarding up a notch, Hi Henry can help you build out a scalable program that makes collaborating on task lists and creating central hubs of information a breeze. Contact us for more info!

A few final thoughts

Taking the time to define and enhance your onboarding process is not just a nice idea—it’s the key to engaging and retaining your employees. Aberdeen Group reported that 66% of companies with onboarding programs claimed a higher rate of successful assimilation of new hires into company culture, 62% had higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54% reported higher employee engagement.

Don’t wait too long to put this in place, many organisation are losing a lot of money when they could be streamlining their onboarding, improving employee engagement and saving time.

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