8 Onboarding Fails That Will Send Your New Hire Running

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
Updated May 2, 2023

A poor onboarding experience is like a terrible first date — both can send a person running for the door.

But the cost of onboarding a new employee far exceeds that of a single date. The process of recruiting and onboarding new employees requires significant time and financial resources. According to research from Bersin by Deloitte, the average cost per hire is about $4,000.

The investment is worth it if the employee succeeds, but unfortunately, early turnover is a common issue. Replacing an employee can cost anywhere from 50%-60% of his or her annual salary, according to research cited by the Society of Human Resource Management.

Onboarding New Employees

Companies can mitigate the threat of early turnover by providing comprehensive onboarding for new employees. In addition to better retention, research by the SHRM found effective onboarding leads to higher job satisfaction, a stronger sense of commitment to the organization, higher performance levels, and lower stress for employees.

Don’t let a poor onboarding experience ruin your new hire’s chance to succeed, or worse, drive them to quit. Here are 8 common onboarding mistakes to avoid.

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1. Going Radio Silent After the New Hire Accepts the Offer

Your new hire should hear from you multiple times between the day they sign the offer letter and their first day on the job. Your correspondence should achieve several things. First, convey how excited the team is to meet him or her. A little enthusiasm can help quell any nerves the new hire might have about starting a new job.

Second, let them know what to expect. A week or so before the new hire’s start date, send an email with an itinerary of his or her first few days or week, and who they can expect to meet. Finally, this interim period can be used to knock out some of the paperwork and other administrative tasks required when onboarding new employees.

2. Lack of Preparation on Their First Day

Imagine walking into a new office on your first day at a job and introducing yourself to the receptionist, only to realize they have no idea who you are. Imagine the office manager failed to set up your computer, or remnants of the last inhabitant of your desk are still littered about.

This would not be a positive experience, and would certainly not support a good first impression of the company in your mind. Unfortunately, these are common occurrences when companies embark on onboarding new employees.

Basic preparation is imperative to giving your new hire a great first impression, which is crucial to preventing early turnover. Ensure a smooth start by getting everything in order before your new employee’s first day.

3. Not Celebrating Their Arrival

Onboarding Fails for New Employees

Even small gestures can have a profound influence on a new hire’s initial impression of a company. When onboarding new employees, bringing a box of donuts to the office, or taking them out for lunch or happy hour are easy ways to make new hires feel welcome. They also create opportunities for the new employee to get to know the people on their team.

4. Burying Them in Information

A lot of learning occurs during a new hire’s first few days on the job. This is to be expected, but it’s best to try to avoid overwhelming them with information.

The importance of a carefully planned onboarding agenda cannot be overstated. While designing your new employee’s training and onboarding schedule, focus on the most important things first. Remember, the most effective learning occurs during hands-on practice, not from reading an instruction manual or sitting in a classroom.

5. Boring Them With Dull Tasks

New employees may require more time to become proficient in new tasks and processes, but you hired them because they are smart and qualified. Don’t bore them right off the bat with dull projects just because they’re easy to delegate.

Aside from the necessary administrative tasks, pique your new hire’s interest right away with stimulating and important projects. This will boost their engagement from the start and show the employee you’re confident in their ability to succeed.

6. Not Providing Technological Support

Adequate technological support is often overlooked, but it can be one of the most frustrating onboarding mistakes.

Digital technology has permeated virtually every job. However, not all employees have the tech aptitude to easily learn new software systems. Figuring out how to use digital tools while simultaneously learning the ropes at a new job can cause a serious mental strain and add undue stress for new employees.

Discover how easy onboarding new employees to your software can be with WalkMe.

Tools that simplify software training, such as WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform (DAP), provide contextual guidance in real time to facilitate faster learning and improve time-to-competency. With DAP, new employees can become proficient in new software with ease and quickly become meaningful contributors.

7. Lack of Guidance From Managers and Mentors

Onboarding New Employees

The primary goal of onboarding new employees is to get new hires up to speed quickly so they can begin adding value to the team. In addition to providing new employees with effective training tools and learning material, make sure they have access to support.

Pairing new hires with mentors — individuals within the company in a more senior role — and informal “buddies” is a great way to ensure employees feel comfortable and oriented.

Frequent check-ins with their direct manager are important, especially when onboarding new employees. According to a 2014 study from research firm Leadership IQ, direct reports who spent 6 hours per week with their managers reported feeling more engaged, motivated and inspired at work. They were also more likely to describe their work as interesting and recommend the company to others.

8. Failing to Clarify Expectations

Although we highly discourage micromanaging your new employees, it’s imperative that your new hire has a clear picture of your expectations for them. For example, once you give him or her an assignment, there shouldn’t be any ambiguity about when you expect it to be complete, whether or not they need to report their progress along the way, how long the task should take, and what metrics will be used to assess it.

Clarifying these expectations will give your new employees structure and help them evaluate their progress while maintaining a sense of autonomy.

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.