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Don’t scare off new hires with poor onboarding

By Tim Ferguson
09 December 2016 | 1 minute read
Don't scare off new hires with poor onboarding

Recruitment is a time-consuming and expensive process. Yet, when the right person is hired, inducting them is often process-focused and rushed. This could be a costly mistake.

The ‘recruitment to onboarding’ time ratio is heavily skewed, with many employers believing that recruitment is over once the contract is signed. However, research has shown the importance of a thorough induction program to boost staff retention and engagement.

In one study, 91 per cent of employees said a good induction and onboarding process was ‘very important’ or ‘important’ as an engagement factor, and 22 per cent said they would look for another job if they did not receive this.


Companies that do not want to lose their new team members should develop a strategy that is effective for both the business and it staff.

Practical basics

An emphasis on engagement and ensuring new employees feel welcome is a reflection of a business’ culture, and the balance between mechanics (systems/processes) and dynamics (culture/behaviour) is an important consideration.

Explaining human resources and payroll processes, having an office tour and covering legislative and occupational health and safety issues are crucial.

An induction about ‘what we stand for’ and ‘here’s what you can expect from us’ is an important step to helping a new employee understand how they can be part of the team from day one.

Eyes wide open

New staff members are usually concerned about fitting into their new team. This is an excellent opportunity for existing staff to positively engage and demonstrate desired behaviours in the team.

High-performing team members can act as role models. For example, attending a client meeting together is a good way to showcase desirable traits.

This engagement process also serves as a reminder to staff that their actions and behaviour are often mimicked by newer employees.

We all play a role

While line managers and team leaders are often called upon to integrate new employees into the company’s culture, it is important to recognise that every member plays a role.

A client once had to address the issue of a high turnover rate, and one team member admitted she chose not to engage with new employees in their initial months due to the uncertainty of their long-term employment. Understanding that this had an impact on their turnover rate was a step in the right direction.

Ask questions

We sometimes assume we know what is best for others or we believe that one method of induction will work for everyone. However, the best approach is generally a bespoke one. This doesn’t necessarily mean more time and investment in the induction process. It may just require asking the right questions.

Finding out what works for your new team member is a simple and effective approach. Not everyone enjoys having an official ‘buddy’ they can reach out to, but for others, this can make a world of difference.

Knowing they have options and some control over how they are brought into the fold is empowering and will demonstrate you value their presence from day one. Investing in strong professional relationships and demonstrating that you are open to feedback – even from your newest employees – can benefit both parties.

Ask more questions

Don’t stop asking questions about how they would like their induction conducted. Check in regularly to ask how everything is coming along and if they need help. This can be handled by different team members and can be used as a means of establishing stronger relationships across the team.

Having regular review sessions will allow the new hire to reflect on their time and share about their ongoing experience, as well as provide the opportunity to receive feedback on the climate in the office from an unbiased observer. This can also help improve your recruitment and induction processes over time, as new employees assist with refinement based on their comments.

Reflection in the mirror

Ultimately, the induction should reflect the culture you want to create. Each business has a signature DNA to encourage employees’ professional growth and that of their company.

Be clear about what you stand for as a business and ensure it is communicated in a meaningful way from the first interaction.

Think about how you induct people

  • What does it say about your culture?
  • Which areas of your workplace culture can be improved?
  • Are you open to receiving feedback from the people who have been inducted into your business?

Hiring process

Ensure your job advertisement gives an overview of your business culture if you consider it important. During the interview process, assess the candidate on both mechanics and dynamics.

Hiring someone based on their technical ability and experience alone, ignoring cultural fit, can set them –and you – up to fail.

In businesses with thorough induction processes, two-thirds of employees rate themselves as highly engaged and more than half exceed expectations in performance reviews.


Don’t scare off new hires with poor onboarding
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Tim Ferguson

Tim Ferguson

Tim Ferguson is a facilitator at Leading Teams.

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