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You should think more about how you onboard your newest hires

These five common onboarding mistakes can cause long-term problems, including employee retention.

You should think more about how you onboard your newest hires
[Photo: aatlas/Pixabay]

Most hiring managers want new recruits to be comfortable in their role, to be productive and motivated, and to feel confident that they’ve made the right choice in accepting this job. Why, then, do so many employers still use outdated, ineffective onboarding practices that turn already-nervous new hires into balls of anxiety on their first day?

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The importance of efficient, effective onboarding can’t be overestimated. Sixty-nine percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they had a positive onboarding experience. If you want to keep that eager new employee happy and productive, know the onboarding practices new hires dread—and do your best to avoid them.

Introducing your new hire with undue fuss or fanfare

No matter how experienced your new hire is, they likely don’t want to be the center of attention of a group of strangers on day one. Starting a new job is stressful, and being immediately thrust into a round of clapping employees magnifies that stress exponentially.

What to do instead: Opt for “pre-boarding.” To minimize first-day jitters (and the chance of a new hire getting cold feet after accepting your offer), send a welcome email within a couple days and perhaps have one or two key staffers send a similar email. You may also want to send along the employee handbook and a brief outline of the first week’s schedule. That way, new employees can start with confidence and a warm, but low-key, welcome.

Prescheduling lunch with the CEO or president

It’s hard enough being brand-new, but now your new hire is going to have to worry about eating in front of her boss and all the potential tensions that go along with it. (Should I order an entrée or just an appetizer? What if I get spinach in my teeth?) Unless your new employee is a C-suite executive or another senior staffer, lunch with the big boss during the onboarding process is unnecessary.

What to do instead: Ideally, a candidate’s immediate supervisor would be involved in the interview process and have had a chance to meet the employee in person before the first day. Whether or not that happened, lunch with the person to whom the new hire will be reporting can be a nice touch. Depending on the size and culture of the company, a brief intro meeting or phone call could be arranged with one or two key senior staffers.

Springing the new hire on your staff with no advance notice

Surprises in the workplace—unless they’re accompanied by balloons and cake—can fray even the steeliest nerves. So don’t hide the fact that you’ve hired a new employee and, in turn, create concern in your current employees.

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What to do instead: Tell your team about the new hire in advance, and keep it positive. Let them know that the new employee is an addition, not a replacement, so that nobody feels threatened. Likewise, give your new employee a little background on the current team structure and an idea of what to expect from colleagues.

Expecting your new hire to “dive right in”

Sure, it’s important for your new hire to know when payday is and how to enroll in the company healthcare plan. But don’t forget to go over the unique aspects of your company, people, and culture when onboarding.

What to do instead: Inform your new hire on all the “need to know” things that aren’t in the employee handbook, such as where to park, what time people usually leave for the day, the chain of command, supervisor “pet peeves,” and the unspoken but important rules that nearly every company has. Be sure to check in with new recruits. A friendly smile and a “How are things going?” can go a long way toward creating a welcoming environment.

Giving your new employee vague or conflicting directions

It happens more often than you might think: Employees receive vague directions or are given conflicting instructions from two or more supervisors or coworkers. This leads to confusion, frustration, and mistakes.

What to do instead: Be sure that you, your peers, and employees all have the same information and provide the same instructions. Give the new employee opportunities to ask questions, and be sure that he or she clearly understands your expectations.


Kimberly Fahey is senior vice president at Randstad Sourceright and a member of the national chapter of The Society for Human Resource Management.

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