Imagine this scenario. Your alarm buzzes to life, waking you for the first day of your dream job—the one you’ve been working toward your entire life. As you drive to work, you are nervous, excited, and eager to start the day and meet your new co-workers. You arrive at work with a big smile on your face…now what?
If you’re sent straight to some type of employee orientation program, your new company is on the right track. New employees who go through a structured onboarding program are far more likely to stay with the organization for years to come. On the other hand, when new hires aren’t put through an onboarding process, not even a brief employee orientation program, they are more likely to question their decision to take the new job, sometimes as early as day one. When new employees walk away within the first 45 days, their anxieties were probably fueled by the all-too-common mistakes many companies make during their new employee orientation program.
Today we’re going to look at some of the first-day mistakes that cause new employees to run screaming from new jobs.
Focusing on process rather than culture
Employees begin their new job excited and upbeat about learning and becoming acquainted with the worksite. Does anyone really want to go into the office on their first day, only to be handed mountains of paperwork and then be expected to sit in a quiet room and fill it all out? Absolutely not. The first day (perhaps even the first few weeks) should be focused on building relationships while gradually getting up to speed on the day-to-day responsibilities that come with the job. Paperwork can be taken care of in advance and submitted on the first day or even before then.
Rushing through new employee orientation
Unless your company has a person or team dedicated to only hosting new employee orientation, it’s very likely that the person facilitating orientation has more than enough to do without having to take a day or two to welcome new hires. No one benefits when presenters rush through the material without focusing on the needs of the new employees. Employee orientation should be a patient and methodical process in order to achieve maximum knowledge comprehension and employee retention.
Failing to reinforce the company brand
Attitude is everything. As a trainer, your positivity and high energy will be contagious to your new hires. If they witness good vibes in the workplace, they’ll be excited to keep working, and they’ll tell their friends and family about the great work environment they’ve found.
Not allotting enough time
NFL players didn’t earn their fame and fortune overnight and neither will your new hires. Simply completing day one of your employee onboarding program doesn’t mean they can be independent workers and make a difference in the workplace. On average, it takes at least 60 days to learn a new habit, though it could take longer for the new behavior to become automatic. For the sake of this article, we’ll say it takes 60 business days—nearly three months—to learn a new habit. We encourage companies to keep employee orientation programs brief, anywhere from a few hours to one full day, but keep in mind that it’s likely to take up to three months for new hires to feel comfortable in their new roles.
The classic case of “winging it”
This is by far the worst mistake a company can make when welcoming a new hire. Scrambling to organize responsibilities and activities while also educating new hires, all off the top of your head, can end in disaster. For one thing, this approach will leave the new employee feeling anxious about what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do it. For another, it presents a bad first impression and sets a bad precedent.
There you have it: the top five mistakes that companies make during employee orientation. No one is perfect, not even large companies and corporations. But that doesn’t mean you can’t strive for near perfection when it comes to employee onboarding, orientation, and training.