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Common new-hire mistakes to avoid at all costs


Congrats! You’ve made an excellent new hire and are excited to see what fresh talent can bring to your team. Their success, however, may depend on your ability to avoid common new-hire mistakes.

Consider these stats from a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics summary surrounding job tenure:

  • An astounding 22 percent of the workforce has been at their job for less than a year
  • Younger workers are more likely to have shorter job tenure: 74 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds have been at their job for fewer than 12 months. That applies to only 9 percent of workers age 55 to 64.
  • In 2018, both wage and salaried workers were in their current jobs for a median of 4.2 years.

There can be many reasons for employee turnover, but issues related to engagement, culture and management styles can often be mitigated through effective and personalized onboarding procedures.

If you have too many new-hire mistakes, it can cost your company in time, morale and financial resources. It costs, on average, over $4,000 to hire a new employee, and a position can sit vacant for around 42 days, according to research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

When you add the hard costs of hiring with the opportunity cost of not having your team at full capacity, it can prove costly for companies — making successful hiring a matter for budget-savvy businesses to seriously consider.

While many of us recognize the best practices for onboarding that will increase a new hire’s likelihood of succeeding in their role, new-hire mistakes happen. Avoid these common slip-ups to keep new hires engaged and confident in their decision to join your team.

1. Not showing them a warm welcome

The modern business rarely has downtime, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t slow down and show your new hire a proper welcome. They are taking a risk in joining a company they know little about. This is the best moment to plant the seed that they are now part of something positive and life-changing.

Don’t keep them waiting in the lobby. Have the hiring manager or their boss greet them personally, if possible.

Meet them at the door, show them around the office and introduce them to co-workers. It isn’t just polite, it can ease their first-day jitters and show them that they are worth the time taken to get to know them.

Remote workers should still get the red-carpet treatment. If the manager can’t fly out to be there, do a video call to check in and offer a friendly face.

Make sure they know where facilities, amenities and supplies are located. Don’t let them guess about things like parking, coat storage or the best way to get a cup of coffee.

2. Inundating them with video training or new-hire paperwork

When onboarding an employee, there are certain administrative and regulatory requirements that should be taken care of on day one and others that can be spread out across their first week.

On an employee’s first day, they must complete their W-4 and I-9 verification documents.

Then throughout the remainder of their first week, have the employee review the employee handbook.

Avoid the common new-hire mistake of setting them in front of training videos or procedural manuals on their first day. While the red tape of a new hire needs to be handled, it is best to wait a day or two until they become acclimated with their surroundings.

Those workplace harassment modules and office supply request trainings can wait until later in the onboarding process.

3. Leaving tech for later

There are many moving parts in getting a new hire into their role, and not all of them are noticeable from the manager’s line of sight.

Technology is one area that can be overlooked or taken for granted. New hires need logins, passwords, email accounts and access to reporting.

Ensure these are set up and their workstation is fully functional from day one. Nothing communicates a lack of respect like making your new hire wait impatiently for tech support that should have happened before they arrived.

This is also an excellent opportunity to enlist peer support. Give each new hire a co-worker partner that can show them login processes, primary tech roles and how to contact support, when needed.

They can act as a liaison for simple I.T. issues that may pop up in the first weeks of training. Getting locked out of essential tech tools with no easy resolution is just one of many common new-hire mistakes reported by employees.

4. Assuming your new employees speak the language

Don’t assume anything or take any knowledge for granted. What you and your employees deem routine and ordinary may be foreign to new team members.

Some industries practically have their own language. Don’t just expect your new team members to know it right off the bat – help them get up to speed.

For example, you might create a cheat sheet of acronyms and buzzwords that are commonly used within your business or industry.

Be sure to address any and all questions. Appoint mentors who can be go-to resources for new employees who need on-the-job training. However, make sure that the appointed mentors are willing and able to take on these responsibilities. Your new employees may get frustrated if their mentors don’t have time for them.

Additionally, be sure that your new hires know to take other issues to their supervisor or HR representative. Have a scheduled follow-up process for any questions that may arise during the first few weeks or months in their new role.

5. Losing Momentum

There may be no better level of excitement and engagement than those first few days on a job. Good managers will harness that natural exuberance and use it to keep new hires at an elevated engagement level. There’s nothing more frustrating than watching passion for a new job fizzle out because it wasn’t nurtured.

A new hire needs to have continual communication regarding the days, weeks, and months ahead. Not only should you ensure that they know what is required of them, but you should also share some interesting things they can look forward. Provide your new hire with a schedule, so they can see what goals are coming up and that they are part of a long-term, well-intentioned plan for the company.

Keep the hiring manager or direct leadership team in contact with the hire, as well. While they may not interact daily, schedule meetings to sit down and get a feel for how the employee is doing. Use this time to encourage the employee and allow them to ask  any questions they might have.

Letting your new hire know that they are a valuable part of the team is critical. Remind them that you are just as excited about the decision to bring them on now as you were on that first day.

6. Missing an important source of feedback

Your company is successful. After all, you’re hiring new employees and expanding your business. However, don’t fail to recognize that rookie team members may bring valuable knowledge and insights that can better your business.

Your new hires have a fresh pair of eyes and a new set of experiences. Use that to your advantage. They may see opportunities for improvements that others have overlooked.

Also, ask your new employees to give you some feedback on the onboarding process they just went through.

For example, during their first performance review, you can ask them, “Now that you’ve gone through our onboarding process, do you have any feedback for me? What part of the onboarding process was most helpful to you in getting you up to speed in your role?”

This can help you improve your onboarding program so that your next new hires are even more prepared to help your company grow.

7. Thinking too small

Onboarding shouldn’t be something that you envision taking a few weeks. Expect to provide mentoring and communication for your new hire for up to a year after they start.

Take an active role in ensuring a smooth transition. This can keep them feeling as welcome on day 340 as they did on day one. Remember that statistic about 22 percent of workers being at their job for less than a year?

By viewing onboarding as a holistic and broad part of the employee culture, you can avoid common new-hire mistakes and significantly improve the chances that your newbies will become lifers.

Common new-hire mistakes are just one of a number of pitfalls your business could fall into when managing your employees. Avoid unnecessary risks and improve your HR strategy by downloading and reading our free e-book: The 7 most frequent HR mistakes and how to avoid them.