Do you know the top 3 mistakes managers make in structured onboarding?

Starting a new job is an overwhelming time for any employee and it can be stressful for the person tasked with onboarding them into the organisation too. When onboarding is done right, it boosts engagement and can see the employee staying on in your organisation for much longer than those who do not experience effective onboarding. So, what are the biggest mistakes managers are making with their onboarding programs?

#1: Giving a new employee too much information on the first day

All of us have experienced a first day at work before – it’s nerve-wracking, a little confusing and sometimes frustratingly overwhelming. Too many managers make the mistake of treating the first day like a one-time dump of information and calling it ‘onboarding’. Of course, a lot of basic knowledge will need to be shared initially but when the first day is treated like the night before an exam, it has a very similar result – the information might stay in the head of the new employee for the next day but it’s not a particularly helpful approach for long term retention of the details.

Instead, work out exactly what they need to know on the first day and let them get settled in. Then over the course of the first week or two, drip feed the information they need to know as they come into contact with more tasks and different areas of the organisation.

#2: Forgetting the human side of things

It’s natural that managers and new employees would have different expectations of the first day. Managers are often focused on getting productivity back at the highest level possible – after all, that’s why they needed to hire someone in the first place – but new employees are often primarily concerned as to who they’ll be working with, who they can ask for help and whether they fit in. When these things are taken care of, employees are more engaged.

Managers who are only focused on productivity and not the human side of the equation are making a huge mistake. Queens School of Business and Aon Hewitt have found that employees are 15% more productive when these things are boosting engagement. That’s not a number to be sniffed at and it’s clear that managers need to start taking acknowledging and providing for the more emotional side of onboarding.

#3: Thinking that training counts as onboarding

Training is important for new employees to learn exactly how to do the job they’ve been hired to do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with training and every structured onboarding program should include training. Problems start to arise, however, when managers think that simply training someone as to the practical aspects of their role counts as a full onboarding program.

If an employee knows their tasks and how to do them, that’s fantastic but do they know do they know where the coffee machine is? Do they know that you have a team lunch every Friday? Do they know the organisational structure? Do they know key stakeholders? Onboarding is all about making employees feel at ease in the workplace so they can get on with their best work. Always train your employes practically but remember to train them in the little quirks and details of the organisation too, so they can feel confident and happy in their new role.


Greg Weiss is one of Australia’s most renowned career coaches. He is the author of “So You Got A Job, WTF Is Next”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7 step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at

He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.

Greg also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.

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