Employee onboarding: five common challenges to avoid

Once your ideal candidate has accepted your offer, effective employee onboarding is a vital next step.

Zellis

Feb 24th 2020

So you’ve spent countless hours and a significant chunk of the hiring budget on finding the right person for a role – but the job isn’t done yet.

Once the candidate has accepted your offer, effective employee onboarding is a vital next step.

Why? Well, onboarding is the first significant opportunity to engage with your hire before they start working. Strong levels of engagement during the onboarding process contribute positively to performance, teambuilding and – perhaps most importantly – employee retention. In fact, research indicates that 20% of staff turnover happens in the first 45 days.

The first step to developing a high-quality and consistent onboarding process is to understand the common pitfalls that organisations face. Overcome the five key challenges explored below and you’ll be on your way to creating the ultimate experience for your new hires.

1) It's too manual and time-consuming

Many employees and HR teams alike dread the onboarding process because of the all-too-familiar prospect of facing manual and time-consuming tasks. Floods of paperwork to complete. A huge tome of rules and procedures to read through. Dozens of introduction meetings to arrange.

While you don’t want to rush the onboarding process or be too ‘light touch’, streamlining some of the more mundane tasks helps your employees, managers and HR teams take back time to focus on other valuable activities. Onboarding should be something that mostly happens before your employee starts working, but a manual, paper-based approach makes this hard.

It’s not uncommon for employees to have their first few days wasted because their IT isn’t set up, their documentation hasn’t been completed, or they don’t have a proper schedule in place. Instead they spent their time trawling through a cumbersome physical handbook, rather than being able to access more easily digestible information at a more convenient time through a mobile-friendly app.

2) It lacks personalisation

Manual onboarding processes don’t just cause delays and frustration. They also invariably lead to a lack of personalisation, something which in today’s working environment falls well below the bar of expectation.

If all new hires are subjected to the same cookie-cutter onboarding process, they might receive too little of the information which is important to their role, too much information which is irrelevant to the role or - most likely - a combination of both. This leaves employees feeling lost, sending profound signals about the way your organisation’s views its people. If your organisation doesn’t personalise the onboarding experience, it indicates that it might lack personalisation in other crucial areas, such as benefits and rewards, and learning and development.

3) It’s not social enough

One aspect of the onboarding process which is frequently overlooked is opening lines of communication between your new employee and the rest of the team. This is especially problematic in large companies with hundreds (if not thousands) of staff.

There are many simple, low-cost ways to overcome this problem, such as setting up digital introduction meetings before the employee’s start date and organising a team lunch for their first day. But you can also go a step further to help your new hire get a sense of the bigger picture by giving them access to digital organisational charts. This way they can understand how they fit into the team and pinpoint the people they need to start building relationships with.

4) It’s over too quickly

There’s a common misconception that onboarding begins and ends within the first few days of employment. The reality is that it often takes the average employee weeks (if not months) to really settle in and feel engaged in their new environment.

A major part of the onboarding process is to support new hires through this period of personal transition. To cut the chances of new hire attrition, it’s fundamental to give employees a sense of how the organisation will support their careers over the long term. This includes making sure they’re familiarised at an early stage with what learning and development opportunities are available, how performance reviews work, and which benefits they’re eligible to receive.

This can be achieved by making sure your new hire has easy access to a centralised HR system with strong aspects of self-service – giving them a greater sense of control over their career journey at this crucial early stage.

5) There’s a lack of visibility

Let’s not forget the other critical players in any successful onboarding process – your managers. It’s already challenging enough for managers to juggle their ongoing tasks with helping to onboard new starters, and a lack of visibility into the process can make this worse.

When taking a manual approach, it’s difficult to know how onboarding is progressing. Has your employee been introduced to all the right people? Have they completed all of the essential tasks and training? Where have they encountered challenges? Similarly, your employees will also struggle to keep track of what they’re supposed to be doing – contributing to needless stress and worry during their first few weeks.

Without a digital onboarding solution, keeping an accurate and valuable record of this information is a real struggle. It also means that you forgo the opportunity to use data analytics to understand the effectiveness of your process and where it needs to be improved for new hires in the future.

Find out more about how our award-winning software, ResourceLink, can support your talent management needs.

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