3 Common Reasons Why Employee Onboarding Doesn't Work

If you’ve noticed that your employees are unengaged, frustrated, and leaving, maybe it’s time to give your onboarding programme some much-needed care and attention. It can’t just “sort itself out”—it requires some time and effort from your entire team.

To nurture your onboarding process into a self-running, effective, (yet welcoming) engine, start with identifying the main problems. Luckily, you’re not alone, and it’s possible to learn from a few common problems that other teams have faced:


1. Lack of planning, buy-in and ownership

There’s often pressure to move a candidate through the recruitment process quickly, and then set them to work immediately. Unfortunately, the pressure ends there. It’s replaced with other pressures, tight deadlines and business as usual, until no one has the time to properly onboard the new hire. With this lack of ownership, it’s no wonder that the “sink-or-swim” approach ends up being the norm—and the whole team suffers.

At the same time, senior management may be putting off the development of a streamlined onboarding process, simply because nobody proposed a clear business case for it. Or, there’s a perception that your team just doesn’t have the resources to build one.


2. Focusing on one aspect of onboarding while ignoring the rest

It’s easy to get caught up in explaining the nitty-gritty details of employee benefits and claims processes, only to neglect what’s actually expected of the role and who to approach for help. On the other hand, some companies focus too much on the big things like visions and values, while delaying more time-sensitive processes like applying for health insurance or work visas.

Gaps in information throughout the onboarding process can be confusing for new hires. It sends the message that workplace efficiency and culture is an afterthought, not a priority, and that they are expected to fill in the gaps for themselves.

3. Giving new hires too little guidance—or too much

The previous two points highlighted a tendency towards too little guidance. At the other end of the spectrum, some onboarding processes are so overpowering that they hold back self-expression and individuality to the point of dropping productivity levels. A study on employee onboarding techniques suggests that giving employees space for “authentic self-expression” can improve staff turnover rates by 47.2%—just by spending 15 minutes during the onboarding process to discuss how the company helps newcomers express their individuality.

It’s not great to leave your new hires swimming in the deep end without a life jacket, but neither is it effective to bury them in information about the company without opening up a two-way conversation on their own thoughts, feelings and experiences.


How can your team tackle these problems?

If you’re lacking in time and resources, consider building an online onboarding course as a one-off investment. Share the onboarding relationship across your team and ‘seed’ the community until it’s able to deliver a consistent, high-energy welcome to new hires without relying solely on one person’s time. Here’s how to give new hires an onboarding experience they’ll love [worksheet available].


At OpenLearning, our solution is a social, learner-centric platform that enables continuous learning to be done online. Create your free OpenLearning account to get started.

Featured Image by Mimi Thian on Unsplash.

OpenLearning - Training and onboarding by the team, for the team. Free guides and templates.

Topics: Employee Training and Onboarding

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