4 onboarding mistakes that make your new hires want to quit

About 31% of new hires quit within the first six months and 20% leave within the first 45 days, according to a survey by Nintex.

The survey found that 86% of employees who are looking for a new job considered their organization's broken processes like onboarding in their decision to leave, Riia O'Donnell writes for HR Dive. Broken onboarding programs start new hires "on the wrong foot," which can lead them to quit later on, says Dan Stoll, a technical product marketing manager at Nintex.

At the core of poor onboarding is too much focus on paperwork and not enough on talent management, writes O'Donnell.

In fact, while 62% of employers say that onboarding's primary goal is to integrate new hires into the workplace culture, cultural integration activities make up less than a third of the onboarding program, finds a survey of 350 HR leaders from Kronos and Human Capital Institute (HCI).

Many HR leaders understand that their onboarding program needs an overhaul, Roy Maurer writes for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Three out of four respondents believe their workplace isn't effectively onboarding new hires and only 47% believe their onboarding program successfully retains new hires, according to the Kronos-HCI survey. 

70% of employees aren't engaged at work. Here's how to change that.

Maurer and O'Donnell identify a few critical mistakes organizations make during onboarding—that may be driving new hires away.

Mistake 1: You don't separate onboarding and orientation

Onboarding and orientation serve two different purposes, but too many workplaces lump the two together, writes O'Donnell. Orientation introduces new hires to the firm's policies, while onboarding connects employees to peers and training resources, she adds.

Although paperwork is unavoidable, employers can encourage new hires to complete these forms before they arrive at the office, says Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group Inc. An online dashboard that gives new employees access to information about deadlines and resources can ease the onboarding process, says Marc Solow, a managing director at Deloitte.

Mistake 2: You leave new hires in a "dead zone"

If you stop communicating with new hires after they sign the offer letter, you risk leaving them in a "dead zone," says Solow. Long periods of radio silence disengage new hires and lead them to rethink their fit at your organization, he argues. Instead, send immediate and consistent communication after acceptance to build a strong employer brand, recommends Jenna Filipkowski, head of research at HCI.

Related: 3 ways to ensure your employees will quit

Mistake 3: Your onboarding process isn't long enough

Longer onboarding programs are associated with stronger employee engagement and employer reputation, according to the HCI. But 36% of employers have an onboarding program that lasts only a few hours to a week, Maurer writes.

New hires need months of support to form connections with their coworkers and get support from their managers, says Chris Lennon, vice president of product management at BirdDogHR.  Onboarding is an ongoing process, says Ky Kingsley, a vice president at Robert Half. A strong onboarding program tells new hires that the organization is ready to invest in their professional development, Kingsley adds.

Mistake 4: You don't diagnose individual skill gaps

Onboarding should be customized to fit each individual's strengths and weaknesses, writes O'Donnell. To create an individualized onboarding plan, leaders need to identify each new hire’s skill gaps both before and after their first day on the job, according to EAB's Advancement Forum. Once a new hire has started work, one-on-one conversations with their manager should be used to pinpoint and prioritize areas for growth and professional development. This opens a dialogue around skill gaps that can continue throughout onboarding and their tenure with the institution (Maurer, SHRM, 3/5; O'Donnell, HR Dive, 3/5).

Keep reading: Onboarding employees is not a "one size fits all" process


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