Six Signs Your Onboarding Process Isn’t Working

One of the most important components of the new hire process is often the most overlooked: onboarding. Once you’ve identified the next great individual to join your team, the employee onboarding experience plays a valuable role in both their overall success and length of tenure at your organization. Let’s be clear: onboarding is not orientation. Far beyond administrative paperwork and IT setup, intentionally and effectively onboarding new employees works to foster a sense of belonging and engagement from day one. 

By providing clear expectations, essential training, and personalized guidance, organizations can expedite the learning curve, enabling new hires to swiftly become meaningful contributors. Moreover, a positive onboarding experience instills confidence, reduces turnover rates, and enhances employee retention, all of which collectively contribute to a harmonious and efficient workplace environment. Here are six signs that signify your onboarding process has definite room for improvement.

Employee Engagement is Low

When new hires feel disconnected or disengaged shortly after joining, it should raise an immediate red flag. A successful onboarding process not only provides important information but also immerses employees in the company’s culture, operations, values, and goals. If this integration is lacking, employees might struggle to grasp their role’s significance and their contribution to the larger organizational picture. In turn, this disconnect can lead to reduced motivation, productivity, and a diminished sense of belonging.

High Turnover Rate

A high turnover rate often serves as a clear indicator that an organization’s onboarding process is not effectively meeting the needs of its new employees. That’s because employees who do not feel a strong connection to the organization are more likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. 

An effective employee onboarding program not only equips employees with the necessary skills, but also ensures they feel valued, supported, and connected to both their roles and the broader organizational mission. Without it, employees may quickly become disillusioned, leading to a lack of job satisfaction and ultimately their departure.

Poor Employee Survey Feedback

When an organization consistently receives poor feedback from employee surveys, it’s a telling sign that its onboarding process is falling short of expectations. First impressions matter and negative feedback regarding the onboarding experience suggests that new employees are not receiving the support, guidance, and engagement necessary to feel fully supported in their new role. If employees are reporting dissatisfaction, confusion, or a lack of preparedness, it points to a misalignment between the onboarding program and the employees’ needs. Regularly soliciting feedback through surveys and other channels can provide valuable insights into the specific areas that need improvement. By analyzing this feedback and taking actionable steps to address the issues raised, organizations can revitalize their onboarding process, resulting in higher levels of employee satisfaction, engagement, and overall success.

Frequent Questions & Concerns

A consistent influx of questions and concerns from newly onboarded employees is a clear signal that an organization’s onboarding process is falling short of its intended goals. While it’s natural for new hires to have inquiries, a well-designed onboarding program should proactively address many of these questions and provide comprehensive information upfront. If employees are repeatedly seeking clarification on basic procedures, role responsibilities, or company policies, it suggests that the onboarding process may not be effectively equipping them with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed. This lack of clarity can lead to frustration, decreased productivity, and a sense of unease.

Longer Learning Curves

When employees experience prolonged and challenging learning curves upon joining an organization, it often indicates that the onboarding process is not effectively designed. If employees are struggling to grasp essential job functions, company practices, or technology tools well into their tenure, it suggests that the initial onboarding could benefit from increased clarity, comprehensiveness and accessibility. Nothing feels worse to a new hire than a perceived lack of progress. By reevaluating and enhancing the onboarding process to offer targeted training, mentorship, and ongoing learning opportunities, organizations can substantially reduce extended learning curves and empower new employees to contribute meaningfully from the outset.

Limited Team Integration or Interaction

A successful onboarding program actively facilitates the integration of new hires into both their respective teams and the broader company culture. If new employees find themselves isolated or struggling to establish meaningful connections with colleagues, it suggests that your onboarding process might be neglecting the crucial component of social integration which not only boosts morale but also enhances collaboration and knowledge sharing. Team-building activities and opportunities for informal interaction go a long way in ensuring that new employees are seamlessly woven into the fabric of their team and the organization as a whole.

Revisiting Your Onboarding Process

A well-executed employee onboarding process should instill a sense of belonging, provide clear expectations, and foster a positive introduction to the company’s culture and values. It serves as the jumping off point from which your new employee will embark on a new career journey, and — if planned and facilitated correctly — it has the potential to maximize overall success and longevity. Low engagement, high turnover, frequent questions, longer learning curves and limited team interaction are all signs that your onboarding process has room for improvement.

Regularly gathering and assessing feedback from new hires about their onboarding experience is a powerful and effective way to improve your process. People Element makes it easy to automatically deploy onboarding surveys to new employees at their two- and five-week milestones. In addition to providing a positive touchpoint that illustrates to new hires that you value their opinion, the feedback can be utilized to make informed adjustments to the onboarding process that better align it with employees’ needs and expectations. The result is a more engaged, committed employee who is more likely to stick around for the long term.

Subscribe for industry tips

Ready to build a better workplace?