10 Onboarding Mistakes HR Teams Should Avoid

Onboarding in the right way gives your new employees the best chance of success in the business.

10 Onboarding Mistakes HR Teams Should Avoid

Onboarding mistakes happen, but it's not great when they do. In the process of building and perfecting your employee onboarding process, there are a lot of things to keep track of, which is why things fall through the cracks sometimes. This is why employee onboarding software solutions are fast becoming an indispensable part of the modern-day HR ecosystem.

However, certain common onboarding mistakes can be avoided simply by relooking at the way your team thinks about the process. Instead of seeing a fresh recruit as a greenhorn that should buck up and bring their A-game straight out of the gate to show everyone what they are capable of, new employees should be seen (and treated as) the valuable assets they are.

This kind of mind shift is imperative when you take into account that most 20% of voluntary employee turnover occurs within the first two months or less. Here are a few common errors that should be avoided if you wish to retain top talent in 2021 and beyond.

10 Onboarding Mistakes That Can Cost You Your Top Candidates

1. Not Sharing Important First-Day Info

Mistakes To Avoid With New Hires

The first day at a new job is always at least slightly nerve-wracking, no matter how seasoned and professional you are. This is why it helps to pave the way with a pre-arrival email that shares all the info a new employee needs on the first day. This includes everything from how to dial into reception, to what forms they need to fill out, who will be meeting them, what their IT codes are, etc.

2. Not Informing Your Team of New Arrivals

Workplaces are busy spaces, and most people have plenty to keep them occupied, which is why it is imperative to let your team know when someone new will be arriving. Ideally, you want to set up an informal meet-and-greet session with the people that will form a new employee's inner circle (i.e. their immediate team), so they don't rattle around smiling at blank faces on their first day.

3. Failing To Have Their Workspace Ready

Best practice guidelines dictate that a new employee's workspace should be set up and ready to go the moment they arrive. Sure, there will still be some setting up required, especially from an IT point of view, but at the very least you want the desk and chair ready, and the PC plugged in. A nice touch like a personalised coffee mug or plant also does not go amiss.

4. Leaving Them To Fend For Themselves On Day 1

Induct New Employees

Work shadowing is all good and well, but new recruits should, at the very least, be orientated very thoroughly before they are left to their own devices. The absolute ideal is to have a peer or HR member accompany them for the larger part of the day, guiding them through the meetings and processes that need to be taken care of.

5. Spending The Entire First Day On Paperwork

Every new hire has to fill out the necessary paperwork, but having it take up the full first day is not a great way to get people excited about working at your company. Instead, have them complete the bulk of it digitally before they arrive, so you can use the time to give them a taste of your culture instead,

6. Not Securing Facetime With Their Direct Manager

Make a point of booking out time with the new recruit's direct manager on the day of their arrival so they can meet in person.

7. Being Hazy About Your Expectations

Each new employee should be presented with a clear job description and KPIs on their first day, so they know exactly what is expected of them on a day-to-day basis. This way, you are setting them up for success right from the start.

8. Failing To Check-In Daily

Welcome New Hires

The onboarding process should not stop after a new employee's first day. Ideally, a dedicated member of the HR team should check in on them at least once per day for the first week or two to ensure that they have everything they need to settle in and perform to the best of their ability. If there are any issues, it should be solved immediately, so they are on track to stay engaged and become optimally productive.

9. Not Providing Regular Feedback

Performance reviews have a bad rap and with good reason. When you're only called into the boss' office once a year, there can be a lot of issues and resentments that pile up. However, when feedback sessions are far more regular (e.g. once every month or few weeks), and less formal, new team members can really benefit from constructive input from their peers and superiors.

10. Not Conducting A Post-Onboarding Survey

The simplest way to learn from your onboarding mistakes is to get feedback straight from the proverbial horse's mouth. Do it sooner rather than later so that the experience is still fresh in your new employee's mind. This way, you can use the data you compile in this regard to tailor and streamline your processes even further the next time around.


Onboarding mistakes happen, but with proper planning, your HR team can avoid these costly errors. Rethink the way you induct new recruits by focusing on the experience as seen from their point of view. Here's a handy onboarding checklist to keep handy when you need to welcome new team members into the fold.