7 Employee Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid for Small Business Owners

employee onboarding mistakes to avoid for small business owners

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When it comes to business, employee onboarding is more than just a checkmark that gets you off the hook for a legal requirement. It’s about setting your new employees up for success and helping them transition into the company culture. But with all the different things to think about, it can be easy to forget something small when rushing to get your new team members started. The fact is that 88% of organizations onboard poorly and, this may shock you: where global executives are concerned a whopping 32% indicate that they had a badly structured onboarding program.

I’m not sure about you, but does it feel good to you that in your first week on the job, you don’t have the right equipment to do your work? Or that you don’t have the right people to get you to do what you need to do, let alone give you feedback to succeed and give you certainty?

What’s worse, leadership factors a lot here. In a recent client call that I took, an employee was reportedly reduced to tears because of a bad onboarding experience involving a rather punitive manager, causing a mental health breakdown. Guess what? According to Clickboarding (2020) lousy onboarding leads to a bad employer brand. Obviously in that example, this employee didn’t just leave – he left on a stretcher! As you can tell, I am now in discussions to help this client restructure the internal onboarding process.

So, these are teething problems. Your business is growing, and so are the responsibilities of your new employees. It’s important to remember that managing new hires isn’t just about getting your business up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible. It can also require thinking about how you will ensure your new staff members work at their maximum potential within the first few weeks on the job. Failing this could mean you annoy your team, lose them, or sabotage your entire business.

We’ve all been there, so we are here to help you avoid these seven common mistakes when onboarding employees.

Lack of Clarity About the Onboarding Process
employee onboarding mistakes to avoid for small business owners

The first employee onboarding mistake is not giving employees enough information about what to expect during their first weeks with the company. This can cause confusion and frustration among new hires, affecting productivity and morale from day one. In the HBR article on retaining new hires, regularity in the onboarding experience can actually boost retention by 50%.

Some companies have a formalized process for new hires, but others leave it up to the managers in charge of each department or team to handle the process independently. This leads to inconsistency in how employees are introduced to their new roles and responsibilities, making it difficult for them to adapt quickly and get up-to-speed. It also makes it more difficult for you and your employees if there’s confusion about what steps still need to be completed before someone officially starts work.

To avoid this problem, give employees an overview of what to expect during their first weeks on the job before they start working for you. This could include information about benefits coverage, vacation time, or other perks — as well as a list of expectations for their performance on the job.

Not Having a Plan or Strategy for Onboarding.
employee onboarding mistakes to avoid for small business owners

Many small businesses hire someone, give them some general instructions, and hope they’ll figure out how to get started on their own. That approach may work fine for a handful of employees, but if you want all of your new hires to be successful from day one, make sure you have an onboarding plan before hiring anyone new.

Your plan should firstly be aligned with your overall business strategy. In fact, there must be clarity of performance. A well onboarded employee is more likely to contribute to desired targets of the strategy that you lay out.

The minimum program should include a detailed description of what’s expected from each position; a ‘handholding’ day where they interact with managers and team members to ease them into the work; details about the company culture and values; information about benefits; instructions on how to use software programs; introductions to key players within the organization; training on how things work around here; and anything else that will make employees feel welcome and supported during their first few weeks on the job.

Not Making the Onboarding Process Interactive and Engaging
employee onboarding mistakes to avoid for small business owners

Without a doubt, good onboarding processes will enhance productivity by 70%. This can happen if you’re sitting down with new hires and talking about policies, procedures, and benefits — but it needs to be more than that. You must ensure that new hires are engaged in what they’re doing and feel like they’re going through a process rather than just reading papers or filling out forms.

It’s tempting to hand off all the information about your business, policies, and procedures during onboarding.

This approach, however, does not engage new employees or demonstrate the significance of understanding what they need to know to succeed. 72% of employees favor one-on-one consultations with a manager or supervisor.

So, consider having them complete an interactive exercise.

Several approaches can make your onboarding process more interactive and engaging. One way is by using games and videos. You could create a game where the employees must complete a task to advance to the next level. Another option is creating a challenge or quiz asking employees questions about their new job roles or company values. You can also use case studies for each position where employees will work to see how different teams work together in different scenarios.

Another way of making onboarding fun is through social media. This platform allows you as an employer to get feedback from your new hires about their experience from day one at your company through Polls, Surveys & Quizzes, which creates transparency between everyone involved, including yourself, to see what improvements need improvement before hiring another employee again. It also gives them something positive about their day-to-day task, so they’re not just sitting around watching Netflix all day waiting for their first paycheck.

Not Involving Employees in the Onboarding Process.
employee onboarding mistakes to avoid for small business owners

According to LinkedIn, a systematic onboarding procedure is not good enough. You need to have a scientifically validated one as well. Measures of employee engagement for example can be valuable and correlated with elements of the onboarding process. When such input is given, you indirectly allow employees themselves to design and plan your onboarding process through effective feedback about what works.

Furthermore, employees who are asked their opinions about what they think should be included in an onboarding program are more likely to buy into it, which leads to a higher likelihood that they will actually complete the training.

The more involved people are with a new process or system, the more motivated they are. Asking employees for their input on what topics should be covered in an onboarding program is a great way for them to understand why they need to learn these new skills or processes for them (and your business) to succeed.

Another benefit of employee involvement is that you’ll likely end up with a better-designed and more effective onboarding process if employees know what they want when someone new joins their team.

Not Providing Enough Support During the Onboarding Process
employee onboarding mistakes to avoid for small business owners

You’re busy. I get it. But you don’t need to do everything yourself, something we have been saying to entrepreneurs for… forever! In your onboarding, assign a mentor or buddy to a new employee helps to enhance their efficiency.

So, provide support. When you’re providing new employees with the necessary tools to help them get up to speed, you’ve got the chance to set them up for success from day one.

  •   Provide training if you have a training program already in place. Great! If not, ensure that your new hires receive formal training or mentorship on how best to perform their job roles before sending them out into the wild solo. This will help them be confident and productive from day one, which is essential if they work remotely or independently as part of a small team (which could happen due to budget constraints).
  •   Provide mentorship opportunities. A mentor is someone who can look at things objectively and give feedback on how an employee may be approaching tasks or projects incorrectly without necessarily needing any particular expertise in those areas—they need good instincts about what works well and why it works well so that they can explain it enough for others who may be less familiar with those same concepts themselves (or perhaps just less experienced than this particular mentor might be).

Mentors can also keep track of any roadblocks that arise during onboarding where new hires might have trouble getting over hurdles without having somebody there by their side as a sounding board while they think through solutions rather than trying random ideas until something sticks.

Not Following Up After the Onboarding Process is Complete.
employee onboarding mistakes to avoid for small business owners

We’re talking about a follow-up email or phone call to ensure everything went well, that there were no issues and that the new employee feels like they have all the information they need to succeed. If you don’t follow up after completing the onboarding process, you’ll miss out on an opportunity to build rapport with your new hire and show them that you care about their success.

In addition to building a positive relationship between you and your new hire, following up after onboarding can also help prevent future problems by identifying potential issues before they become problems. You might learn that an employee isn’t using a particular software program or isn’t keeping up with specific deadlines because they didn’t receive enough training during their first week on the job.

Not Measuring the Effectiveness of the Onboarding Process.
employee onboarding mistakes to avoid for small business owners

This part will help you understand how to evaluate and improve your company’s onboarding process.

What is the purpose of measuring effectiveness?

The purpose of measuring effectiveness is to determine if your onboarding process is working. This process involves training new hires on company culture, practices, and tools—and then integrating them into teams so they can get up and running quickly. The success of your onboarding efforts hinges on how well you do this. According to Recognation, 92% of new hires report a higher level of productivity and feelings of being valued in their first thirty days following effective onboarding. If you don’t measure this, you’re not going to get much input as to whether the initiative is helping and in what way.

Measurement will help you pinpoint areas where change is needed (for example, if there are too many steps involved in the onboarding process) so you can improve your strategy accordingly.

How should you measure effectiveness?

1. Ask the new hire to rate their experience.

Once a new hire has been onboarded, ask them to rate their experience. This is best done after they have completed the first month and settled into their role. You may want to ask for feedback on things that went well during the onboarding process and things that could be improved. You can also request suggestions from them regarding how your team can better accommodate new employees in the future.

When asking for this kind of feedback, it’s essential to ensure that you’re clear with what you’re looking for—the more specific information they have about what they should do or say, the better!

2. Have a checklist for all onboarding tasks.

Having a checklist for all onboarding tasks is essential for two reasons:

  •  It makes sure that you don’t leave any of the onboarding tasks until later. If there are no deadlines, it’s easy to put off filling out paperwork or setting up voicemail. Having a checklist means that it must happen on Monday morning if you don’t finish something by the end of next week.
  •  It ensures that every new hire gets precisely what they need to start their job right away and feel like they’re being welcomed into the company culture.

3. Track the period it takes for a new hire to become productive.

When you measure how long it takes for new hires to become productive, you’re measuring the effectiveness of your onboarding process.

  • Time to productivity should be measured in days and weeks; months are too long, and hours aren’t specific enough.
  •  Your goal is to get new hires up to speed as quickly as possible so they can contribute. The faster, the better.

Invite employees to provide honest feedback about their experience as a new hires.

  •  Make it easy for employees to provide feedback. If you’re not already tracking your employee satisfaction survey results, consider asking employees to rate their onboarding process in order of importance and satisfaction, or ask them to provide suggestions for improvement. You can ask questions like: “What did you learn during the onboarding process?”
  •  Ask specific questions. Be sure that when you ask a question, your intent is clear and well-defined so that everyone understands what’s expected of them when answering the question.
  •  Use calculations to determine whether your onboarding process is effective.

When calculating the effectiveness of your onboarding process, tracking the number of employees who have been with your company for a specific period is vital. There are many different ways to measure this, but we recommend that you use three key metrics:

  1. Percentage of new hires who stay with your company for more than three months (3-month retention rate)
  2. Percentage of new hires who are still with your company after six months (6-month retention rate)
  3. The percentage of new hires still with your company after nine months (9-month retention rate).
How do you use the results to improve your business and onboarding process?
employee onboarding mistakes to avoid for small business owners

Now that you have the results from your onboarding process, it’s time to use them to improve your business and hiring process. You can see the period it took for employees to get up and running in their new role, whether or not they were able to complete all of their training by the end of their first week (and if not, why?), which tools were most helpful in learning about company culture and values, etc.

This information is invaluable for a manager or business owner when determining how to improve your onboarding program. Here are pointers on how you could use this data:

  •   Identify any gaps in training that need addressing before an employee starts working at total capacity
  •   Understand what steps need improving during the hiring process so that future hires enter into their roles more prepared than before

Most well rated employee onboarding programs are 90 days in duration. Some companies go to the extreme of a full year to ensure that their new hires are fully and unconditionally supported. If you want to ensure that your onboarding process is a success, you need to ensure that it’s not just a process but a journey. You need to consider all the steps and stages of this journey, from the initial contact between HR and the candidate through their first day at work. You also need to consider how each stage will interact with one another so that there is an overall plan in place for ensuring that everything goes smoothly. Finally, once complete, you should look back over what has happened during this time so that if anything needs improving, we may do so before starting again.

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