How to avoid poor employee onboarding

Systemize your business, empower teams and improve efficiency

unhappy worker

Most entrepreneurs and business-owners would agree that attracting and retaining talent is a significant and on-going challenge for their business. Avoiding a poor employee onboarding experience is key to help tackle this. Recruitment can be a time-consuming and laborious process, so it stands to reason that when a business finds the right candidate for a role, it would do everything it could to keep them in the company.

That’s something that begins during the employee onboarding period, but looking at the findings from our most recent research, it would seem that many SME employees have ensured onboarding experiences bad enough to make them quit the job. Many more feel that the employee onboarding in their current company is inconsistent and could be improved.

What kind of mistakes are UK SMEs making with their employee onboarding and how can those mistakes be avoided?

The significance of smart employee onboarding

A poor employee onboarding experience can be harmful to your business. Our research canvassed the thoughts of 1,000 SME workers as to their experiences of employee onboarding, both in their career overall and in their current role. The first thing that jumps out is just how important onboarding is in shaping perceptions of a new company. 

The findings showed that around half of SME workers had quit a job because they felt let down by the onboarding process of their new employer. 7% of respondents quit on the first day, another 15% quit in the first week and more than half quit within one month. Three-quarters of the people surveyed believe that if employee on-boarding is done badly, it can have a serious effect on what that person thinks about a company, so it couldn’t be clearer how important it is to get right.

The grievances that contributed to such bad onboarding experiences were many and varied. Some sound trivial, such as not being offered a cup of tea or coffee, but even that can help create an unfavourable initial impression for a new-starter. 

Other reasons included the boss being rude or shouting at them on the first day, new colleagues not being aware that they were joining the company and that the person who hired them had left. 20% of respondents arrived to find there was no IT equipment – laptop, phones – for them to use.

Improving employee onboarding

While it is hard to legislate for bosses shouting at a new-starter on their first day, many of the other examples of ineffective onboarding can be easily addressed. It should be straight forward to greet new employees warmly and to ensure they have everything they need to start their work. Yet 55% of our survey respondents said that employee onboarding in their current company varies with each new starter.

A significant reason behind this is surely that there is not a checklist of the processes and steps to go through with each new starter. Creating such a checklist might not seem like a major task but in a time-pressured and busy small business it is obviously just another task on a seemingly ever-growing to-do list.

It’s exactly this reason that inspired us to recently launch our new process template library. It houses many checklists relating to many areas and tasks within a business, including employee onboarding to help avoid poor employee onboarding. For any small business that feels too busy to start this itself, then using and personalising our template is a great way of getting started with capturing and working with employee onboarding processes. 

More than three-quarters of SME workers believe that employee onboarding is an essential element of welcoming new employees to a company and more than two-thirds (67%) say that employee onboarding at their company could be improved. 

A simple way of making those improvements and helping to ensure your new-starters aren’t put off by their onboarding experience is to deploy a template.

Click below to download your free employee onboarding template to start making changes. 

About the research

An online survey of 1,000 employees within UK small businesses was undertaken by TLF research in September 2019.

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