May 13th, 2016

By avoiding common new hire training mistakes, you will make the transition much more seamless
You have spent valuable time, effort, and investment (both financial and emotional) on recruiting new talent, and it is now time to onboard them.  While your “new hire” may have the skill set that you are looking for, they may have no clue where to begin! Successful onboarding requires a structured approach, open communication, and effort from both the new employee and your company. Mistakes are bound to happen, but by avoiding common new hire training mistakes, you will make the transition much more seamless. Here are the top 5 new hire training mistakes that can be easily avoided, from the smallest to the biggest:

Onboarding Mistake #5: impersonal communication (especially for remote new hires)

In the world of mobile technology, telecommuting and remote offices have become the norm. Unfortunately, when it comes to onboarding, this setup can be extremely difficult.
Fallout:When communication only happens over email or the phone, simple requests such as changes to a project or handing out assignments can be interpreted a million different ways. This can lead to costly mistakes and lower productivity as your new hire struggles to make sense of their new environment.
Fix: If you are onboarding a new, remote employee, opt for phone calls and video chat where you can both hear the tone of voice and immediately ask clarifying questions. You might also facilitate online communication through a social network among your team members. Additional social networking activities should be sprinkled throughout the orientation period. Read this article on New Employee Orientation for Remote Members of Your Team for more tips for onboarding remote employees.

Onboarding Mistake #4: Not spending enough time on culture assimilation

It is important to inform your new hire about company traditions such as casual Friday or where people all go to lunch together on Tuesday. No one wants to be the new person that has to figure these things out on their own as they go, and these items will probably not be covered in any training manual.
Fallout:Not clearly communicating your business culture and traditions can undermine your new hire training efforts. The challenge arises when your employee is blindsided by a cultural norm or tradition that they don’t expect (or worse – one that doesn’t fit their values). Not feeling like they “belong” in your business can lead to loss of productivity, low morale, increased absenteeism and high turnover. For example, if your office typically has a high-stress, last-minute-panic type of environment, don’t try to pretend that your company’s culture is calm and relaxed. Eventually, your new hire will discover the truth about your culture and they may not be equipped to handle it.
Fix: Make sure you set your new employees’ expectations to truly reflect your company’s culture. Be upfront about your company’s culture, expectations, and goals from day one by building elements that showcase your culture and traditions into your online training. Rather than forcing them to learn by trial and error, you’ll let your new hire in on how things work so they can easily assimilate and feel part of the team. We have found that online videos of the leaders of organizations talking about “what worked? ” and “what did not work for them?”,along with Q&A online discussion threads can be very effective in creating a scalable, yet two-way conversation.

Onboarding Mistake #3: Not providing follow-up or listening to feedback

Olympians did not become experts overnight and neither will your new employee. Just because they have completed their initial orientation, does not mean they’re ready to be shoved out into the world without a lifeline.
Fallout:Put yourself in the shoes of your new hire. Imagine that you just went through a 1-day new hire orientation program. Now that the orientation has ended, you are on your own. There is no support in sight and no plan to help you continue to get up to speed. You may feel frustrated and like you’ve been thrown to the wolves! According to an Inc.com article on employee onboarding, this can have a negative impact on employee retention, “When we’re talking about onboarding and an employee’s first ninety days on the job, what we’re really talking about is employee retention,” Thomas says. “Without a proper plan for bringing new employees on board, managers run the risk of miscommunication of goals and expectations, sub-par performance, lower morale, bad decisions, and potentially a financial loss in the form of employee turnover.”
Fix:The questions that a new employee has on day 1 are going to be different from the questions they have on day 20. Check-in with your new employee even after you have onboarded them. See how they are adjusting or if they have any questions, and make sure they are feeling comfortable and confident. Following up with the learners about their experience over the first 90 days helps you gauge the effectiveness of the orientation program and be able to improve it. Consider introducing simple online surveys on day 1, day 30 and day 90 to gauge new hire engagement and monitor these over a period of time as you roll out new initiatives for the new hires.

Onboarding Mistake #2: Not introducing people they will be working with

New hires need to know who to direct their questions to as well as the key people that can help them to succeed in their new role. This should not be limited to just the people in their immediate team and should also include people who can indirectly help them to succeed within your organization.
Fallout:If your new hire fails to make connections and build an internal network within your company, they will not be successful. In order to succeed, your employee needs to understand the politics behind how your organization gets things done. Without this insight, your new hire’s ability to navigate their way forward will be stalled – they will be less effective and less productive.
Fix:Technology makes online mentoring and shadowing cost-effective for organizations with offices anywhere in the world. For example, we often provide a “Getting to Know the Organization” module early on in the process, which explains what the various areas of the organization do and who their key players are. The follow-up activity to this module is an exercise in which the new-hires make contact with those key players who are most directly connected to the new hire’s job. A buddy system can be very effective as well.

Onboarding Mistake #1: Not having a structured new hire onboarding program 

AND the biggest mistake you can make is… not having a well-defined new hire onboarding program in the first place. It does not have to be elaborate, but a structured approach that aligns well with the stage of your organization and the needs of the new hires. Don’t leave new hire onboarding to chance!
Fallout: Approximately 35% of companies spend $0 on onboarding. But its not just about spending money; most of these organizations do not offer any onboarding at all. This sadly leaves their new employees critically under-prepared for their first 90 days and beyond. As a result, these firms are losing talent.
how long is your new hire orientation
Source: Kaiser Associates, Inc., Stein, Christiansen How long is your organization’s onboarding program? 6 December 2013
Studies show that a large proportion of staff turnover, as high as 20%, can happen within the first 45 days. Keep in mind that it costs between $3,000 and $18,000 to replace quitters!
Fix: For most organizations who have limited structured onboarding programs, we have found that the key challenge preventing them from implementing such a program is typically the absence of resources and knowledge. Short of going out and hiring an onboarding consultant, there are simple new hire orientation best practices that can help move the needle. And guess what? Many of these best practices can now be implemented using software solutions! You can take advantage of specialized new hire onboarding technology, which comes ready with templates and professional services of experts and not just software. You will be surprised to find out how much you can accomplish in just 3-4 weeks by inserting your existing content and knowledge into these templates.
To achieve success, onboarding programs should deliver a more seamless experience that is integrated with your business processes. To get you started with designing your new employee onboarding program, read our article Run an Effective New Hire Onboarding Program With These 4 Key Pillars and get started with four organizing pillars:

  1. Early career support.
  2. Orientation to your culture and performance values.
  3. Insight into your strategic position, intent, and direction.
  4. Activities that enable your new hire to build beneficial relationships.
4 Pillars Framework
Source: Kaiser Associates, Inc. 14 May 2013

Remember, the ultimate goal is to help your new employee quickly and efficiently become a contributing team member, and that can only happen if he/she has assimilated the training and overcome roadblocks.