Many of you may already know that good employee onboarding is proven to dramatically increase a new hire’s chance of staying with your organization as well as their general happiness at work. What you might not know is that a bad onboarding experience can be equally impactful in the negative – leading to higher turnover and miserable employees.

To help you side-step these pitfalls, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of practices to avoid during the employee onboarding process, as well as some handy hints on what to do instead!

#1 Don’t info dump during orientation
With new hire time-to-productivity being a common HR success metric, it can be tempting to pile 1001 pieces of “helpful info” onto your onboardee’s plate in the hopes that they will settle into their role faster.

Unfortunately, this practice usually has the opposite effect, causing new hires to tune out as they become overwhelmed with what is often irrelevant information.

There’s a reason the phrase ‘death-by-powerpoint’ has become so popular, it very accurately describes how the practice makes new hires feel – like they’d rather drop dead than watch another moment!

Instead: Drip-feed information in bite-sized pieces.

Time-releasing content to your new hire based on where they are in their onboarding journey is a great way to keep your recruit engaged, rather than overwhelmed.

#2 Don’t gatekeep important knowledge
Think back to the last time you tried to find a direct contact number for a bank or insurance. You probably spent a good 10 minutes trawling their website trying to find this very important piece of information, slowly becoming more and more frustrated as your search yielded no results.

This is the feeling new hires have when they can’t easily access information that is crucial to their success in a new role – things like the company dress code, remote work policy, or even just a simple key contact list.

Gatekeeping important information is an easy way to ensure your newest team member is operating on incomplete or wrong information – not an ideal way to kick off their tenure with your organization.

Instead: Centralize your resources in one location for easy access.

Whether it’s an intranet, an integrated onboarding platform, or even a private Facebook page, be sure to pull all the important resources that a new hire needs into one central location that is easily accessible on the go.
Trust us, it will save your recruit and their new colleagues a boatload of valuable time.

#3 Don’t leave managers out of the equation
Whilst HR sets the tone for the onboarding process, managers are the ones who are usually responsible for the day-to-day implementation of the new hire journey. It doesn’t makes sense to build a process that relies so heavily on their buy-in without their input.

Think about it – managers are busy people, and onboarding a new colleague can be a time-consuming business. If you dump a new process on them that doesn’t take their pain points into account, you’re likely to end up with a shiny new hire journey that lives only on paper.

Instead: Consult managers early in the onboarding process and build a collaborative system.

Don’t see managers as an ‘end-user’ of a new onboarding process, see them as your partner in crime who can help provide valuable insights that will improve the long-term viability of your onboarding.

Small organizations should have no trouble getting managers together in a room (or Zoom) to gather feedback. For larger organizations, try a company-wide survey or some smaller focus groups that represent a good cross-section of your managerial staff.

#4 Don’t underestimate personal touches
An onboarding process that is devoid of personality is a one-way ticket to attrition-town, population: all your new hires.

It might sound a little dramatic, but it’s true. Even the most robust, well-automated process will fall on deaf ears if your new hire feels like they are being treated as a commodity, rather than a colleague.

Remember, the entire point of digital automation in the HR space is to give us MORE time for the things that really matter, like real in-person connections.

Instead: Pick critical moments to include small personal touches like a hand-written note, small gift, or coffee catch-up.

It doesn’t take much, just one or two really personalized touches throughout the new hire journey can make all the difference. And they don’t all have to come from HR either. Encourage managers, buddies, mentors, and anyone else your new hire connects with to get on board the personalization train.

#5 Don’t assume everyone learns the same way
Everyone’s minds work a little differently. Some people respond to visual learning, others like to read to absorb their knowledge. This is an incredibly important thing to keep in mind when you’re designing your onboarding journey.

If every aspect of your experience is geared towards one type of learner, any team member who doesn’t fall into that category is going to be at a major disadvantage. This is especially important when we consider neurodivergent thinkers who need to double or triple their efforts to work within “typical” societal learning norms.

You can’t cater to every single mind out there, but exploring more diverse knowledge-sharing methods is a good place to start.

Instead: Offer a range of different mediums to digest information.

One way to add some diversity of learning to your onboarding experience is to experiment with different mediums. Mixing video, audio, and imagery into your text-based content will allow new hires to “choose their own adventure” and engage with your content in a way that makes sense for them.

You could create some short videos, turn your policy documents into audiobooks, or even put together a podcast if you’re feeling extra fancy.

The takeaway?
Remember that there is onboarding. And then there’s good onboarding. Good onboarding balances experience and process for a seamless journey that pays dividends to both employers and employees.