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Onboarding: It Doesn’t Have to Be So Bad

From the employee perspective, onboarding is, arguably, the most frustrating part of starting a new job. From mountains of paperwork to employment verification, background screenings, required training, and more, it’s a lot to deal with.

And it’s not just frustrating for new hires. Getting employees quickly acclimated (or as the term suggests, on board) is often administratively cumbersome and, let’s face it, a little boring.

Despite these myriad frustrations, onboarding is a necessity for the individuals on both sides of the process. Here are some of the top problems faced during onboarding, and actions your organization can take to overcome them.

Common Onboarding Problems…

Onboarding Can Be a Barrier

For employees, onboarding often represents a barrier between them and the new job they’re eager to perform. That can cause stress and nerves about taking on a new position.

New employees want assurances: that they’ve made the right choice, that they’re a good fit, that the work will be engaging and motivating, and that they have supportive colleagues who want them to succeed.

Onboarding Can Make a Bad First Impression

Your onboarding process is an employee’s first impression of the company they’ve chosen to work for. If it’s not managed smoothly, if it’s not an organized process, if they don’t find HR resources and their own managers or supervisors supportive and responsive, it can result in a very bad first impression.

That can make new employees second guess whether they’ve made the right decision, especially if the company they came from had better internal processes and greater support.

Onboarding Can Be Overwhelming

There’s a lot of information for new hires to take in during the onboarding process. Some might say too much information. From administrative issues, policies, and procedures; to the names of new coworkers, to new work processes, technology, and equipment; onboarding can simply be overwhelming.

Consider, too, how this sense of overwhelm has likely been enhanced through remote and hybrid work. When employees are off site they’re most disconnected and have less access to the tools, resources, and support they would have on-site.

…And How to Overcome Them

Take some of these action steps to ensure that your onboarding process will be energizing and engaging (and not off-putting):

Manage Expectations

New employees have no idea what to expect with your onboarding process, so you need to let them know. Manage expectations by sharing with them the process they will go through, and why.

  • “You will be receiving X emails that you should pay immediate attention to.”
  • “X should be your top priority.”
  • “These are the top X things you need to accomplish during your first week.”
  • “Let’s complete these tasks in this order.”

Lay out, specifically, what the employee should expect of the onboarding process, how long it will take, what they will be doing, and who they can turn to for assistance.

Commit to Checking In

Don’t just leave new employees on their own to manage the onboarding process, or assume that everything is going smoothly. Reach out to find out how it’s going, what they may need help with, and if they have any questions or issues you can help address.

Be Responsive!

One of the biggest complaints related to the onboarding process is that company personnel—like HR representatives, managers, and supervisors—aren’t responsive.

Yes, we’re all busy, but keep in mind that the onboarding process sets the stage for your relationship with your employees and build engagement. Commit to not only checking in with new employees regularly, but also being responsive to questions and issues they may have.

Make Support Readily Available and Seamless

In addition to person-to-person support, technology can be a great aid during onboarding. Easy access to FAQs, help desk personnel, online guides, etc., can help to both streamline the process and ensure employees have the answers they need when they need them.

Make It Engaging!

Finally, think about what you can do to lift your onboarding process out of the humdrum into a truly engaging experience. You want your onboarding process to convey a sense of “we’re so glad you’re with us and we’re super excited to get you on board,” and not “you’re on your own and make sure you get it right!”

If you haven’t already done so lately, take some time to critically review your onboarding process to see what kind of first impression you’re making, whether you’re providing the right direction and aids to streamline the process, and whether employees are left feeling energized rather than demoralized by the decision they’ve made to join your company.


by Kevin Hoof, National Recruiter

Image credit: Canva