As a small business owner, I know onboarding is not always a top priority. More often than not, you’re hiring and onboarding quickly to fill an unexpected role. Whether that’s through a surge in demand or someone leaving and having to replace them. At that point, the goal is to fill a position and get someone trained as quickly as possible in an effort to not lose any revenue or harm the customer experience. Yet, In America, an estimated $37 billion is spent annually to keep unproductive employees who don’t understand their job.

Especially now, during this pandemic, we’re seeing many companies, such as Amazon, drastically reduce the onboarding process to get warehouse workers up to speed as quickly as possible. This is causing other companies to follow suit. In the short-term, this may produce instantaneous results, however, in the long-term, it presents challenges. Moreover, Amazon is well-known for its turnover. Why? Well, for a variety of reasons all pointing back to poor employee experiences. In California alone, the turnover at Amazon fulfillment centers in 2017 was 100.9%. Additionally, Amazon reports revealed their stunningly high injury rates.

Turnover isn’t the only consequence though. It also damages morale, harms the company’s reputation (them sharing their experience and preventing others from applying or doing business with you) and hinders productivity among other things. As you can see, even in an employer-driven market, the cost of losing and replacing an employee is more than just a financial hit.

Below are three onboarding myths I’m dispelling so that you can revamp your own onboarding program to create a culture of confidence.

MYTH #1: “Once candidates have signed the offer letter there’s no way we’ll lose them to another company. They gave us their word. They can’t renege.

REALITY: Candidates can back out at any time. In fact, an Indeed survey revealed 65% of employers reported having a candidate accept an offer and sign the paperwork but never showed up for their first day.

It’s crucial to keep the conversation going even after the employment contract is signed. By doing so, you’re keeping employees excited about choosing to work for you and for their first day. Otherwise, they begin to question if you care or if they’ll just be another number.

This is especially true for those who have start dates that aren’t immediate. E.g. In Germany where the contractual notice period is a minimum of 4 weeks.

Here are some ways to keep them engaged until their start date:

  • Share updates, let them know their equipment and desk are set up, wish them a happy holiday or send them info about their team
  • Send pre-hire paperwork that they can start filling out right away. Include a “getting to know you” form that you can share with the team (I’ll send another email later talking more about this)
  • Check-in with them. It doesn’t have to be anything lengthy. A simple “Just checking in to see how you’re doing. The team and I are eager for your first day. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. Have a great weekend!”

Onboarding begins before an employee is hired and continues until long after they’ve started. It’s the process of building a relationship and integrating an individual into the team, the culture and the company. It’s making them feel comfortable and confident.

MYTH #2:We’ll just figure it out as we go.” 

REALITY: I’d be lying if I said at the start of my business, even after leaving my corporate HR career, I onboarded my first team member without a plan. Truthfully, I didn’t expect my business to grow as fast as it did. And if we’re being completely honest, I probably would’ve never been prepared because I was too consumed with trying to get through the day-to-day. It wasn’t until I was backed against a wall that I realized if I wanted to grow my business, I needed to invest in someone. Abandoning all of my HR knowledge, I did what I told everyone else not to do; I thought “I’ll just figure it out as I go.” I quickly learned not having an onboarding process in place was more stressful than sitting down and creating one.

I sensed the fear in my VA as thoughts of her job security crossed her mind. “If the training and onboarding was this disorganized, would the pay cycles be disorganized too?” I know she thought that because I’ve thought that once-back when I was in college and took an internship in Germany. Everything was a mess. I had no onboarding training and their processes were either non-existent or makeshift. My anxiety was at an all-time high and I started questioning my decision. It worked out in the end, I promise. I actually created and implemented those processes 🙂 

It doesn’t always work out like that though. In fact, 20% of new hires quit within the first 45 days due to poor onboarding or cultural fit. Additionally, replacing an employee costs a company around $15,000 or 33% of the replacement employee’s annual salary.

MYTH #3: “The shorter the onboarding, the better. The sink or swim approach will get them acclimated quickly” 

REALITY: Surprisingly, the “sink or swim” approach is still a standard among businesses. A report by the Harvard Business Review revealed this leads to increased failure and turnover rates. When you fail to support new hires, you’re doing a disservice to not only the team but the company as well as the customers. This is because it takes new hires on average eight months to reach full productivity. Research found new hires who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with their employer for more than three years

Imagine how anxious, frustrated and overwhelmed you feel when someone throws a task at you without any instructions, tools, resources or guidance to help you complete it. Your emotions are heightened and ultimately, you know, the outcome is measured against your abilities. How cruel and unfair is that? To set someone up for failure and then, when they fail, discipline them through their performance review or firing them. Consequently, the new generation of workers are fighting back and are firing employers before employers can fire them. They know this is a lose-lose situation.

A successful onboarding program lasts at minimum 90 days and can extend up to one year. Onboarding is often confused for orientation, in that, it’s a one day approach. However, as you’ve discovered from this post, orientation is an event while onboarding is a process. The goal is to hire the best people and set them up to win so you can get the most out of them during their time with your company.

If you’re struggling with figuring out where to start, I can help. I’ve built out onboarding programs for companies small and large, domestic and global, tenured and just getting their feet off the ground. I’ve seen firsthand the results of having a well-thought-out onboarding program. I know you want the most out of your new hire. You want someone who is high-performing, engaged, loyal and consistently produces their best work. Additionally, you want someone for the long-term. Let me show you how an onboarding program does just that. Schedule your complimentary call with me today (click here) and we can walk through your current program and how I can help.