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Clearing Up Employee Onboarding Misconceptions

Successful organizations use a powerful combination of data and honed intuition to make decisions. That data provides the foundation for fully-informed policies and procedures, where management utilizes all necessary information -- along with experience and perspective -- to create strategies that are comprehensive, decisive, and insightful.

Therefore, given the overwhelming, lasting importance of the onboarding process to every organization, it simply makes no sense to adopt an approach that relies purely on instinct and best guesses for success. At Hyphen, not only do we provide employers the tools needed to extract, analyze, and interpret valuable people data that informs every stage of the employee experience, we also have unique insight into many of the pitfalls that ensnare even the best of organizations.

To that point, we’ve summarized three of the more common misconceptions regarding onboarding strategies, and how you can avoid them to realize the greatest enduring impact from your workforce, decision-making process, and culture. Onboarding is far too critical to your organization for preconceived notions and assumptions like these to drive your onboarding success.

 

Misconception #1: Onboarding & Orientation Are Interchangeable Terms

Too many organizations operate under the assumption that onboarding and orientation are synonyms, failing to understand the unique importance of each and, as a result, find diminished impact from both. To avoid such confusion, think of onboarding as a road trip across the country, one that is a process comprised of many individual stops that collectively define the journey. In this analogy, orientation is one of those stops during the road trip, valuable in its own right as part of a memorable and comprehensive experience, but ultimately just a single component of it.

Download: Employee Experience Onboarding Survey Questions

That isn’t to say, however, that orientation isn’t important. Tax forms, retirement plan paperwork, benefits elections, and the other customary duties handled within orientation are all essential components to employment but -- and this is a critical distinction -- not to being a part of the organization and team.

To use another analogy, orientation is like the first lecture from one of your old undergrad courses, where you would receive the course syllabus, perhaps fill out a questionnaire, and introduce yourself to the professor or TA. The next two weeks or so of class are akin to onboarding, where you get to know how the course works, expectations of you, and generally how to be successful in the class.

Keep orientation brief and efficient to get through the needed administrative tasks quickly. HR paperwork and emergency evacuation routes covered in orientation, while necessary and important, don't unlock the real value of the onboarding process. Instead, its value stems from immersing the new hire in your culture and values, how to be a productive part of the team, and aligning individual goals with organizational ones.

 

Misconception #2: Onboarding Begins On a New Hire’s First Day

Contrary to thought, onboarding doesn’t begin on a new hire’s first day. In fact, given the amount of time, effort, and coordination needed to implement an effective onboarding strategy, the process itself should -- at least ideally -- begin well before a new employee arrives for their first day of work.

Aside from that ever-important coordination between the different departments, co-workers, and managers involved in an onboarding strategy -- all of which take time to put together -- onboarding can begin the very moment a candidate accepts the job offer. Understanding and accepting a new employer’s culture and routines doesn’t occur overnight, so communicating some basic information with a new hire -- including dress code, workplace procedures, performance standards, and other straightforward policies -- through digital channels like email, training web portals, and mobile apps can accelerate the learning process and improve ramp-up times.

Referencing the previous misconception, most of the administrative tasks typically associated with orientation can also be completed before an employee’s first day, further streamlining the process for maximum efficiency. Similarly, an employer can take the opportunity to prepare a new hire’s workstation, technology needs, and anything else required for the position before their first day. Obviously, an onboarding strategy is far more comprehensive than the different tasks, events, and training sessions a new hire completes throughout their first few weeks in the office, a process that can begin well before they set foot in the door.

 

Misconception #3: New Employees Will Learn For Themselves

The combination of skills, personality, and experience that made your new hire the best candidate for the job don’t necessarily mean they will immediately take to their new role within your organization like a duck to water. Even the best and brightest can be quickly overwhelmed by the volume of new information coming their way when starting a new job.

Between expectations, daily routines, the overall organizational culture and values, and melding with a new team, an onboarding strategy that leaves too much to self-discovery and intuition can very easily create a poor impression on a new hire that negatively impacts the remainder of their employment. A recent study only confirms this notion, where the average organization is losing half of their new hires within the first three months of employment. Of those leaving, 40% give unclear guidelines and lack of adequate training as the primary drivers behind their decision to leave.

To prevent such attrition, onboarding needs to be transparent and concise towards an employer’s expectations regarding the new employee’s performance and adherence to organizational standards. Leaving such vital insights for the new hire to absorb on their own drastically limits success for both the individual and entire enterprise. In other words, it creates a lose-lose situation for all involved.

Read Next: 13 Steps to a Powerful Employee Onboarding Strategy

Your onboarding strategy is too important to your organization and employees to rely on imprecise information. Avoid these common misconceptions, build your onboarding approach around the quantitative, authentic people data culled from Hyphen’s feedback platform, and give your employees the very best chance to succeed. A people-centric approach will drive future success. Let Hyphen provide you the insights needed to leverage your people data, make well-informed decisions, and realize that success. 

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