How to Get Employee Onboarding and Provisioning Right!

Jan 18, 2022 9:34:15 AM | Onboarding How to Get Employee Onboarding and Provisioning Right!

Executing employee onboarding well improves engagement, productivity while increasing employee retention. Get tips to ensure you get onboarding right.

Executing employee provisioning well not only improves engagement and productivity; it also increases employee retention. Getting onboarding and provisioning wrong is costly, and today, ex-employees aren’t shy about sharing their worst onboarding experiences with the world.

The previous three blog posts in our series have covered how to improve the new employee onboarding and it provisioning process from the standpoint of HR leadership, the IT team and the hiring manager.

Our fourth and final blog puts the spotlight on the employee experience. The good news is that new workers generally want the same things their hiring manager wants: for the onboarding and the provisioning processes to go smoothly, with a laptop and all of the systems access that they need waiting for them when they arrive on day one. They want to get to know the members of their team. And they want to feel productive, quickly.

The bad news is that enterprise organizations commonly fail to deliver this experience. It’s a fact that’s backed by a variety of statistics:

  • 22% of new hires leave within the first six weeks.[Quora]
  • 42% report not having basic equipment such as a computer or laptop ready for them on their first day. [HRZone]
  • 35% of companies spend zero dollars on onboarding and $11,000 to hire someone. [Jobvite]
  • 36% of organizations do not have a structured onboarding process in place. [Business News Daily]
  • Only 37% of companies extend their onboarding programs beyond the first month. [Quora]

A closer look

To appreciate the benefits and long-term value of a great onboarding experience, let’s review some “worst onboarding experience” horror stories; you don’t ever want these recollections to be associated with your company! Then, we’ll analyze the benefits of getting onboarding and provisioning right. Finally, we’ll share our expertise and guidance on ways to make the experience positive for your employees and effective for your organization.

The Worst Employee Onboarding Experiences (Don’t be an Onboarding Horror Story!)

The Internet is full of stories of new employee onboarding and provisioning disasters. Here’s a sampling of woeful, cringe-worthy tales that we found particularly alarming.

Though each of the stories are real, we’ve withheld any company names. But let there be no mistake: employees who go through negative experiences like these are not shy about naming companies, particularly on sites like Glassdoor and Reddit. It goes without saying… You don’t want to find your business named on any of those lists.

Who are you?

“When I got to the office, my supervisor told me I needed to go all the way to another office within a different building to visit HR and get my benefits paperwork. When I arrived in the HR office, they didn't have my name on file, and they handed me a generic packet of information and told me to fill it out in the next few weeks.” [TINYpulse]

Rude welcome.

“The manager made a point of making sure he was off on my first day. I barely knew where I was sitting when his boss started yelling at me to get a condition report. It was my first day at my first newspaper, and I had no idea what a condition report even was.” [TINYpulse]

Yeah, about your manager…

“A new employee showed up to work on his first day and had no idea that the manager who hired him was no longer with the company. This piece of news apparently did not make its way to the new employee and left him feeling like he had made a huge mistake in accepting the job offer.” [CIO]

About your manager…(Part Two)

“I show up at a startup office in NYC at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday and knock on the door. The CEO (whom I hadn't met) answers the door. Welcomes me in and tells me the person who I supposed to report to quit last Friday. Find a desk, make myself at home, and they'll figure something out. Rocky start but panned out well…Ended up learning a ton about operations, finance, fundraising, etc.. Also learned how to spot a doomed startup earlier.” [Bravado]

Oh, no reason.

“I had a client once that let someone sit in a cubicle for a week while they figured out what to do with them. They did need the headcount but had no plan for what to do with the person.” [CIO]

Spelllng is hrd.

“I had a friend whose name in his email account was misspelled. For some reason, it took the company a few days to fix it. During this time, he had to communicate with the rest of his team using that email. It was embarrassing for him to constantly explain to each of his new colleagues the mistake and his correct name.” [CIO]

Details, details.

“I was told to show up three hours away with an address. That's cool. Until I get there and see five to ten different options. Detailed instructions would have been nice, e.g., parking garage, building entrances, security clearance, etc. They also had a two-week notice of my hiring date. Was my laptop set up? Nope. It was handed to me in the UPS box sent from corporate. Unopened.” [Bravado]

Forget about IT.

“I showed up for my first day of work and had no computing equipment, no accounts. Followed up with people in central IT and departmental IT, and finally managed to get accounts — but no equipment. Worked on a different contract for a week (I’m part time), came back to find someone had taken my desk. Took another desk, got (some) equipment delivered to it! Went away for another week, came back to find someone had taken my other desk.” [Lobste.rs]

We’ll just MacGyver something.

“I showed up for work and they had no desk. Then they found a spot I could use, but had no computer. Eventually they found an old one no one was using and let me have it. It was a terrible machine, probably one of those bulk discount machines you see at department stores. Then they had no monitor. I had to wait the majority of the day for them to find me an old CRT that flickered like crazy. After that whole mess, I spent a full week with nothing to do…I kept asking for work, but they weren’t sure what to give me.” [Lobste.rs]

Are you sure you exist?

“It took a month to get confirmation that the company had enough information to pay me…For the next few weeks, I became the squeaky wheel as I worked through onboarding documents myself to find a ton of dead links, old systems still online but input to it ignored, and other edge cases the company hadn’t considered when someone doesn’t go through the happy onboarding path.

“A month after I started, I was automatically terminated in the system — IT lockout, disappeared from all but the core HR system — because one very important piece of federal paperwork (Form I-9) didn’t make it into the system. I was locked out for four days without clarity as to if I was actually still employed while my manager scrambled to find the right person to assure both of us of that…It was all just a failsafe to keep the company from hiring someone they couldn’t confirm was legally allowed to work in the U.S.. Someone turned off the Klaxons and I filled out a new I-9 and got my access back.” [Lobste.rs]

Boss of the Year.

“As an intern for several months, I finally received my computer halfway through my last week on the job. The guy I was assigned to always arrived late, took a long lunch, and left early. He also went on several work trips during the months I was assigned there. He never would give me anything to do, and the only time he talked to me at all was an in-depth discussion about how big a Spiderman fan he was and how Marvel didn’t do Venom justice. IT refused to acknowledge the computer request for a long time, and other departments couldn’t help or task me with anything due to internal politics.” [Lobste.rs]

What Else Can Go Wrong?!

Top 5 onboarding and provisioning problems
Those are some awful individual stories. But it’s not surprising when you look across workers and companies, you’ll discover a number of common onboarding and provisioning issues that repeatedly crop up:

  1. New employees don’t feel welcomed. There’s no personal greeting (the receptionist may not even know there is a new person starting that day), no welcome pack, no company swag, no food or drinks. No one shows them around, takes them to lunch or introduces them to their co-workers or management team.
  2. No work space. There’s no allocated space, desk or chair designated for the new employee. As a result, they may spend hours waiting in a conference room.
  3. No equipment. Too often, new employees show up only to find that they have no computer, no monitor, no network login, a non-functioning work email account and/or nothing to work on.
  4. Bad management. Also too often, welcoming the new employee doesn’t seem to be the hiring manager’s top priority anymore, although it should be. Of course, things can go wrong — the manager may have to attend an emergency meeting or is stuck in traffic, sick in bed or otherwise indisposed. If this happens, there should always be a back-up “welcomer” assigned. Beyond the first day, constantly canceling or rescheduling one-on-one meetings with the new hire sends the message to the new hire that they aren’t that important. [CIO]
  5. Archaic, out-of-date processes. Paper-based processes, snail mail and redundant manual data entry not only waste a new hire’s time. It also gives the impression that your company is behind the times. Further, paper-based processes are error-prone and incredibly inefficient, adding costs and slowing down the onboarding process.

How Bad is It?

It would be reassuring to believe that these types of onboarding situations are the exception, the unusual edge cases. Unfortunately, statistics show that bad onboarding experiences are common:

  • 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days. [Jobvite]
  • Poor onboarding is a major cause of employee turnover, which can cost a company 100-300% of the employee’s salary in total. [Business News Daily]
  • Almost four in 10 office workers say they had a serious problem during their onboarding process. [HRZone]
  • It takes eight months for an employee to reach their maximum productivity. One-third of new employees begin searching for a new job before they have been with the employer for six months, and 25% leave before they have been there a year. This gives them little to no time at peak productivity. [Business News Daily]
  • More than 40% of HR managers who don’t capture onboarding information electronically spend three hours or more per employee manually collecting and processing the data, while 16% spend five or more hours. [Business News Daily]
  • One in three new employees would prefer to go on an awkward first date rather than attend onboarding or orientation for a new job. [HR Dive]
  • When the new employee onboarding experience is not positive, research shows new hires are twice as likely to quit the job as those who do have a good onboarding experience. [HR Dive]
  • About 80% of workers experienced some issues when starting a new job: 
    [HR Dive]
    • One-third reported they received no necessary training;
    • 28% were unsure of their responsibilities and goals;
    • 25% reported they received no clear onboarding;
    • 25% said they had IT issues; and
    • Nearly 20% believed they were not fully onboarded after three months on the job.
    • One in 10 new hires reported their company forgot it was their first day on the job entirely. [HR Dive]

The worst part of all? Many of these statistics reflect issues with onboarding before the pandemic. Fast forward to today where employees don’t even have an office to go into or co-workers to meet face to face or a team member to take them out to lunch or a desk on which a welcome pack is left for them. The harsh reality is that now, some new employees don’t feel  engaged or like their part of the organization. Instead, managers must rely on Zoom and Slack for critical early communications.

Why is Onboarding So Bad, So Often?

An all-too-common reason that employee onboarding misses the mark could be that the hiring manager may not understand how important the “people side” of onboarding is or what it entails (welcoming the new employee on their arrival, getting them settled into their space, giving them an office tour, introducing co-workers taking them out to lunch, etc.). It can also mean they understand how critical onboarding is but are simply overwhelmed.

Another reason onboarding is so poor is the constant pressure for managers to get things done. The manager may feel the best path to productivity is to skip the softer side of onboarding and immerse the new hire in work immediately. (Studies show the opposite is actually true.)

But the most common reason for inadequate onboarding is the lack of a system that automates the request and follow-through activities with visibility and transparency for all. From the new hire’s perspective, there seems to be little (if any) coordination between HR, IT and their hiring manager. In truth, while everyone involved may be trying their best, companies too often don’t have technology in place that properly organizes the process, integrates with all the backend systems and provides visibility into the status of onboarding and provisioning tasks.

Avoid the pitfalls. 

To avoid falling victim to onboarding and provisioning horror stories like these, stay tuned for Part Two of this blog series. We’ll explore the benefits of creating a positive onboarding experience as well as ways to deliver a remarkable onboarding and provisioning experience!

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Pete Olson

Written By: Pete Olson