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6 employee onboarding mistakes and challenges that enterprises should avoid

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Do you remember the first few months of moving into a new neighborhood?

Maybe you moved to a new city for a new job. Moved to a new country for higher education. Or, just bought your brand new house in a new locality. 

Those initial few months are all about gauging the new environment and trying to figure out if you made the right choice. How are the people? How is the surrounding? What does it smell like? What meets your eyes and ears? 

Before you can let your guard down, you want to be sure you made the right decision.

Well, it is not much different for your new hires.

Moving to a new workplace is a huge personal decision for people. There’s so much uncertainty about how things will work out.

For enterprises, it is in enabling these new hires to feel confident about their own decision that the beauty of a great employee onboarding process lies. And how well you do that can go so far as determining how long the employee stays with your organization and how committed and productive they are. 

So it makes sense that, as a People Operations leader, you’d want to avoid some of the most common employee onboarding challenges that companies might make along the employee onboarding journey.

Here’s stating the six most common ones that we’ve come across.

1. Assuming the new hire will figure their way out 

No one wants to feel like this person here when they walk into their new office on the first day.

Image courtesy: Reddi

Yet these experiences are way more common than you’d expect. Getting held up at security, the hiring manager being too busy to help out, a buddy not turning up to show around the office, a manager who’s surprised to see the new hire on the first day, a team member that gives a bunch of documents to read and then disappears; an unplanned onboarding experience often leaves the new hire having to figure their way around all by themselves and that’s not a pleasant experience for anyone.

Even at the cost of feeling like you’re overdoing or overhelping a new hire, it makes sense to ensure that they have the maximum guidance and support in getting set up to kickstart their journey with your organization.

2. Waiting for Day 1 to start employee onboarding

Post-offer dropouts have increased ever since the pandemic. And one of the best ways in which you can reduce it is by focusing on the experience your new hires have between accepting the job offer and their Day 1. And that doesn’t mean just sending them a bunch of paperwork to finish and a Google Drive full of policies to read and sign, but a lot more than that.

The experiences of these two folks we stumbled upon on a Reddit thread speak volumes about unmet onboarding expectations.

Image credit: Reddit

There’s an important cue you can take from the above experiences: new hires want to break the ice with the company, their manager and their team even before Day 1. This could mean everything that’s waiting for the new employee on Day 1 can start earlier than that. This, for one, ensures that they are not bombarded with information and tasks on the day of joining and two, they will find themselves better prepared for the first day. 

3. Overlooking delays that hamper employee experience

Timing is key to any experience being a delightful one.

Think about it. Receiving a gift after a month of your birthday doesn’t feel the same as receiving it on the very same day, does it?

A new hire who needs to wait for days and months after joining to get a project allocated or a laptop ready will inevitably be disappointed. Even that welcome kit has more value if they get it on or before Day 1.

And mind you, delays are not a one-off situation. Delays are way more common than you’d imagine. Check this out!

Image credit: Reddit

Miscommunication between cross-functional teams that are in charge of onboarding, operational inefficiencies and manual error are some of the main employee onboarding challenges in companies big and small. These lead to new hires feeling stranded after they join. Well, and that’s a loss of valuable productivity hours for the organization too.

4. Not using data to enhance the employee onboarding experience

Data-led onboarding can enhance employee experience and also impact your company’s bottom line. In enterprises, there is only so much you can do manually. To really deliver top-notch experiences for your new hires, you need data and data-led automation. 

Take this situation, for example.

Image credit: Reddit

Data-led onboarding will automate laptop allocation based on any combination of data. For instance, you could set your system up in a way that an employee joining a junior position in the Sales team at the New York office receives a certain laptop and a senior executive joining the APAC team in the Business Development team gets a certain other laptop. Once this rule is set, the chances of errors, like the one above is next to nil. That’s the beauty of data-enabled workflows. 

Here’s another example.

Image credit: Reddit

How could data have helped avoid the above situation?

Data-led systems can trigger a reminder to managers about the new employee coming in the next day. This way, they can be better prepared to receive a new hire. From nudges on onboarding tasks to escalations when necessary, every person involved in the entire onboarding process can remain proactive and on their toes with data.

5. Onboarding every employee the same way

In an era where as consumers, we get everything personalized, we carry the same expectation into our workplaces too. And when that isn’t met, it leads to unacknowledged disappointment. And any organization investing in personalized experiences over cookie-cutter processes will always have an edge over you.

As a team onboarding thousands every week, if you’re wondering whether personalization at that scale is even possible, well, it 100% is! Mass personalization is a big hit on the consumer side of things. And bringing the same experience within the organization is no big challenge. From journeys to communication and processes, everything can be personalized to an individual employee. 

Want to learn more about personalization? Guneet Singh, Head of Marketing & Creative Services at Google shares lessons from Customer Experience that can be applied to Employee Experience.

6. Not measuring the impact of employee onboarding

Budgets allocated are often directly proportional to the impact you can show for any activity. 

What is the impact of effective employee onboarding on early attrition? Or, say employee productivity? Or on efficiency and time?

Technologies are abundant these days to enable you to get hold of this data and transform them into insights. Our favorite example at Tydy is about how, one of our customers, Unilever managed to cut down first-year attrition by 65% after implementing a technology-powered, data-led onboarding experience.

In Summary

After those six months in your new neighborhood, you know what happens if you like the place. You will stay there for good, contribute to the welfare of the people and the growth and development of the area. You might get a friend of yours to move into the same locality too. Quite like how it can happen for organizations too. A great first impression can have a lasting impact on employees. Why then would you not want to get it right?

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