Why employee onboarding shouldn’t be an afterthought

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Businesses that neglect creating an effective onboarding process risk losing their best starters before they even get settled.

A new hire will take, on average, around 12 months to reach their full performance within a role according to Gallup, with the employee onboarding process playing a crucial role in how that person contributes the business.

Now, we know if you’re a startup or SME you may not have an HR or people lead (yet) but as you prepare to scale – and, with this comes its own set of people challenges – you need to get a few of the basics and onboarding best practices in place.

And, at its most basic level, a poor onboarding process could cost you 6-9 months salary to recruit and onboard a replacement.

What is a good onboarding process, and what does it look like?

A good employee onboarding process means that expectations are aligned, the cultural aspects of the business are shared, and the new hire knows what a good performance looks like.

These are the key employee onboarding best practices to remember – find out more about how to onboard graduates here.

It’s not checking that they’ve got a laptop, leaving them with Ben who’ll pass them from person to person or, worse still: viewing it as something that will take you away from your day-to-day.

It’s a holistic and ongoing process, and one of the essential steps for onboarding is instilling a sense of culture in new hires, which is not something you can achieve instantly.

At Careercake, we surveyed young professionals starting new graduate jobs to ask them what challenges they faced when joining a new business.

The findings highlighted a large amount of pressure a new hire puts upon themselves to make an impact, something that is compounded when they’re on the receiving end of a poor onboarding experience.

Specific challenges they shared with us include concerns about using a phone in the office (they experience phone phobia), wanting to build authentic relationships from the beginning and understanding what is expected on a day by day basis until they’re up and running.

Based on these findings, here are the most common mistakes businesses are making that are likely to impact a new hire completing their onboarding and therefore probationary period. Avoid these at your peril!

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3 common mistakes in the employee onboarding process

  • It’s okay, many businesses fall foul of this mistake – which include the big brands.

    You’re so eager to get the candidate on board you create this ideal job and ideal working environment only for the magic to fizzle out when they start.

    This can result in a decrease in retention where the new hire just can’t quite adjust to what they were sold versus the reality.

    In this case, try getting recruitment and the line manager in the interviews, or describe how you’d induct someone so they know what to expect.

  • It may be probationary period, but you still need to be clear about what success looks like for your graduate hire in month 1-3.

    They’ll not be able to hit big targets or complete adventurous projects because a lot of their time will be spent learning the ropes, but break it down week by week so they can gauge how they are performing. It’s always a great idea to put this structure in place at the start, to help new hires (especially graduates) feel that they are being supported.

    Make a list of what you would expect them to achieve and work through it with them so you’re aligned. This could be making introductions to key clients, engaging with online learning to fill any gaps and starting small projects to get an insight into where their strengths lay.

  • One of the key employee onboarding examples to engage new starters is to send through an inventory before hand detailing what activities they’ll be involved in during the first week.

    Removing this uncertainty will help develop their confidence: they can see if they need to dress a certain way for a meeting or do some background research on a key client.

    These are just a few ideas to help develop your employee onboarding process to help your new hire feel more confident and ready to make an impact. Another way to help your new hire settle in is to encourage them to access Careercake, one of the many perks all Give A Grad A Go candidates get!

Are you an employer looking to hire graduates? Get in touch to find out more:


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