For most positions, a business could expect to spend an average of 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary to replace their new hire, according to the Center for American Progress.
It simply makes dollars and sense to take onboarding seriously.
When you onboard the right way, it helps your new hires confirm that they made the right decision, while simultaneously decreasing the likelihood that they will fail in their new role.
And while there are always best practices for onboarding, there are also missteps that can derail your efforts to effectively engage new employees.
Here are a few common slip-ups that you should avoid to stay on track.
1. Being indifferent to your new hires’ arrival
No matter how busy you may be, take time to properly and warmly welcome your new employees.
Your new hires have made a life-changing decision to align their career path with your company. Make your welcome sincere to help ease their first-day jitters.
For example, start with a warm greeting at the door. And don’t keep them waiting.
Then, take the time to show them around the office – point out the restrooms, kitchen and where to fill up on coffee.
Have their workstations up and running, ready to go with their logins. Help them navigate through your daily software programs and email system.
Also, be sure to give them time to set up and organize their new workspaces. Maybe they’ve brought some personal belongings, like family photos, that they’d like to put up on their desks. Allow your new hires to get comfortable in their new surroundings.
But don’t stop there. Proper onboarding goes beyond the first day – spend time with your new employees in their first weeks as they get acquainted.
2. Being too formal
Yes, you are the boss. But your first interactions with new team members should be all about them, not you.
A quick scan of their resumes can give you some hints on how to connect with them on a personal level. Make mention of a particular success that you find impressive.
If you’re still stuck and need a conversation starter, you can ask them, “What are you looking forward to here?” Open-ended questions, like this, will help you initiate friendly dialogue.
While it’s important to have a culture that’s respectful, it’s also important to create a fun and warm environment where your employees feel valued as individuals.
3. Burying your new hires in piles of paperwork
Information overload is a big mistake.
Plan to have all new employee paperwork completed within compliance, but remember not to bombard your new hires with paperwork as soon as they arrive. Spend time introducing them to the rest of their team, showing them around the office and taking them to lunch.
Your employee handbook is also a critical document, as it serves as a how-to guide for your new hires. But spending their first hours in a new job immersed in paperwork is not the way to properly welcome new team members.
Set deadlines as goals for completing paperwork, but keep the initial focus on interpersonal interaction.
4. Assuming your new employees speak your company’s 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 and address any and all questions. Appoint mentors who can be go-to resources for new employees who need help with job training. But 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. Not learning from the rookie
Obviously, your company is successful. After all, you’re hiring new employees and expanding your business. But don’t fail to recognize that rookie team members may bring important 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.
Need more help getting your new employees engaged?
According to Leadership IQ, 46 percent of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months. Don’t let your new employees be a part of that dismal statistic.
Download How to Develop a Top-notch Workforce That Will Accelerate Your Business, and learn more ways to use strategic HR to improve your engagement and retention efforts.