10 Employee Onboarding Mistakes That Become Horror Stories

Posted in Talent & Onboarding

When a new employee joins your organization, does your onboarding process throw up more nasty surprises than a carnival haunted house? Or is it about as boring as an apple in the trick or treat bucket?

Like the thumping heartbeat in The Tell-Tale Heart, it’s painfully obvious if you’re hiding more than a few innocent dust-bunnies under the floorboards. Here are a few symptoms that may get your pulse racing:

  • Your new hires are telling horror stories about their first days, weeks, or months: whether it’s over a campfire, or via your employee pulse checks, unhappy and unengaged new hires are one of the most obvious signs your onboarding process is due for a exorcism
  • Your hot new talent is ghosting you before day 1, leaving you at the altar like a modern Miss Havisham
  • Talented hires are vacating your organization like it’s a poltergeist-possessed hotel: if you are struggling to hold onto your awesome new hires, with most opting to leave you for someone better within the year, you have an issue with turnover. PWC found that in Australia, 23% of new hires leave their job within the first 12 months. If your new hire turnover is around that or higher, there is madness afoot!
  • Recruitment costs are sucking the lifeblood out of your budget: does your annual recruitment spend seem a little high for a small or non-seasonal workforce? Is your CFO hunting for budget-sucking vampires?
    It’s suggested the average cost per hire for a regular employee is $4,000 (higher for execs). In the US, businesses spend 50 to 60 per cent of an employee’s annual salary to replace them (but SHRM suggest this could be as high as 90 to 200 per cent). So, if you’re constantly replacing new hires within the first crucial 45 days to a year, you’ve got a turnover problem.

If any of the above haunted scenarios are relatable, read on to see if you’re the not-so-proud owner of any of the onboarding skeletons below.

10 onboarding skeletons that’ll haunt you and your new hires

If your organization is shuffling through the motions of onboarding like a mummy wrapped in red tape and paperwork, it’s time to look under the floorboards. Ready your garlic and Holy Water – it’s about to get messy.

  1. You’re still using an ‘induction slideshow’ and paper-based quiz! “Hello? It’s 1995 calling and we’d like our PowerPoint back.”
  2. There’s no onboarding strategy, so each manager is left to their own devices… provided they return the required paperwork, lovingly completed and signed by all parties.
  3. You ‘ghost’ your new hires in the weeks following contract signing, only thinking to send a last-minute email a few days before they’re due to let them know which floor you’re on.
  4. The goblins are always wreaking havoc on your ‘checklists’ and your default is damage control. Common Day 1 experiences for new hires are:
    • no desk,
    • no network / system / email access,
    • no manager, and
    • no pay, because someone forgot to enter their details into payroll
  5. You don’t empower your managers and induction hosts to be onboarding experience rock stars, unleashing an army of the undead on your new hires who suck all the excitement from their “BRAAAAAIIIINNNNSSSS”
  6. You don’t introduce your new hires to the ‘Saints’. The key people in your business who’ll be working with the employee; directors, project leads, management, IT, HR, accounts… They don’t know who to turn to for help and usually make a mess of things trying to figure it out themselves.
  7. There’s no introduction to the workplace culture, systems, processes, or behaviours (like casual Friday). Your new hires feel like they’re in an alternate realm where the furniture is hanging from the ceiling.
  8. There’s no formal 1:1 time with managers to discuss responsibilities, expectations, goal-setting, and development.Two months later and your new hire STILL can’t tell you what they’re supposed to do…Actually, now it’s 3 months in and… they still haven’t met their manager to set goals or receive feedback on their progress.
  9. You think ‘onboarding’ is another word for induction. So, your ‘process’ invests heavily in dull classroom-style training because that’s the best way to get them up to speed on compliance and your code of conduct (not).
  10. No one invites them to the cake-gathering / Friday afternoon knock off session / coffee-walking-meetings / the organisation’s social responsibility fundraiser… so every day is a hoot for new hires who feel like the kid who always gets picked last at gym class.

So, when they leave 14 weeks later for a better opportunity, their miserable ghost will remain and haunt their replacement and the team… f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

What’s the ghost-busting solution?

Integrate quickly. Nail the onboarding basics.

The sooner you’re able to integrate new hires into your workplace and culture, give them a sense of belonging, and connect them to their peers, leaders, and key contacts – the sooner they’ll engage and the less likely it is they’ll leave.

Invest in a formal onboarding program and minimise the risk of your ‘hot new talent’ ghosting before the year’s end.

Did you find any skeletons hiding in your onboarding closet? Consult our FREE tome to find out how you can turn your managers into onboarding ghost-busting champions.

Ready to bust your onboarding ghosts? 👻

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