The process of attracting and securing the best talent remains tricky in the current market, so making sure that new employees are integrated into the company smoothly should be a priority. When you consider that HR professionals estimate on average 31% of new employees quit a job in the first 6 months (the more junior the role the higher the risk), the potential cost of poor onboarding becomes clear.
Given the low levels of unemployment in the UK, along with rising wages it’s more important than ever to put effort into retaining key staff members. Given that within accountancy practice this is also compounded by the lack of sufficiently qualified accountants to meet with demand, successful onboarding should be at the top of every practice leader’s priority list.
Where do Employers typically go wrong?
The early church classified the seven deadly sins as cardinal sins or capital vices, according to the Bible these 7 deadly sins are forgivable by God, but this doesn’t give free license to commit these sins. We are not so sure that employees are always as forgiving as God, so it’s probably best to just take note and avoid the following.
7 Deadly Sins of Onboarding
1. Sloth = excessive laziness or the failure to act
You definitely do not want to be lazy when it comes to preparing for a new starter to come onboard.
The process starts way before their first morning and putting the preparation in before day 1 will soon pay dividends.
Some firms spend huge amounts on fancy ‘starter packs’ with all-sorts of goodies in them. We get it, that’s nice, and if your brand and budget allow you can go wild.
In reality however the key things needed for success do not have to rely on a large budget and in fact are potentially more important than receiving a branded tee shirt and a box of chocolates. The key here is to ensure that the new employee feels valued, and that you have taken the time to prepare for their arrival. No-one wants to feel like an after-thought. It may sound obvious but ahead of any new-starter the following should be prepared;
- IT set up and fully operational
- Work space designated, clean and ready to use
- Business cards sat waiting (or at least ordered)
- Phone system/mobile working
*The upside is that being prepared will also ensure your new hire becomes productive more quickly.
2. Wrath = uncontrollable feelings of anger towards another person
OK, so wrath is a bit of a strong word. But that said, not letting the rest of the team know about a new employee can cause an array issues and misunderstandings. The whole company needs to be made aware of the new hire, their role and where they fit into the organisation (a simple email should suffice).
With the immediate team a deeper briefing is required, before the new employee steps through the door. With this you can position the new recruit correctly within the hierarchy of the team and deal with any issues, objections or questions in advance.
This is particularly important where the role is at a supervisory/management level and members of the existing team may feel overlooked for the same job. Walking into the midst of office politics in their first week will not create a great first impression.
On the first day ensure that you complete all of the necessary introductions to other employees. There is nothing worse for a new employee than being asked by everyone they meet about ‘who they are’ and ‘what they do’ (no quicker way to feel unimportant).
3. Envy = the desire to have an item or experience that someone else possesses
Fairness is a big deal. Every new employee needs to feel that they have the same opportunity as the next. If a new employee feels that they are disadvantaged in some way compared to their peers it can lead to deep-rooted ill-feeling.
In particular pay attention to the following areas;
- Benefits – should be communicated prior to starting and reiterated again in the first few days. Be sure they know what’s available and how to access them.
- Social events – make them aware of any upcoming social events and that they know they are welcome to attend. Be aware however that not everyone’s home situation allows them to socialise freely in the evenings, so too much pressure to attend can actually be damaging.
- Training – The training and induction program for each level of recruit should be documented and set in stone. This means that every new starter receives the same amount and standard of training, and in turn the same opportunity to develop.
4. Gluttony = excessive ongoing consumption
Don’t make the common mistake of overloading your new recruit with too much information in the first week. Instead ensure that you have a structured approach to their training and induction, so that they are ‘drip-fed’ the information at a sensible rate.
If there are large number of HR-related forms that they need to fill in it might be as well to send them over to complete prior to starting if possible. This avoids the typical scenario where the employee is left alone for half of the first day reading swathes of information and form filling.
Try to keep the first few days as varied as you can. If possible it’s useful to get a number of individuals to contribute to the induction process rather than them spending all week with just one individual (although of course ensure that 1 person is overseeing and accountable for the process).
5. Greed or Avarice = an excessive pursuit of material possessions
Of course it is natural for you to want your new employee to be productive as soon as possible, particularly in an environment where time literally is money (and chargeable hours are key to revenue). But. By pushing too hard too soon you may well end up with new-employee burnout.
Set realistic targets for each new employee within their first week, month and 6 month period. Remember that at the start everything will be new and they may be slower than other employees. This is normal when using unfamiliar systems.
- Build in time for questions, training and getting up to speed with new technology or software when looking at delivery timescales.
- Give regular feedback and reviews to manage their own expectations of their progress too (most new employees are keen to impress and may set their own unrealistic targets).
- Lastly, don’t be tempted to change the goalposts. The role you discussed in the interview process is the one they are employed to do. Sure, things may have changed in the firm since then, but pushing a new recruit into a role that they are not equipped to fulfil is not only unethical but likely to send them running.
6. Pride – excessive view of one’s self without regard to others
It is easy in the interview process (and even before as part of your employer branding endeavours on social media) to give a slightly unrealistic view of the firm, the culture and indeed the role. It’s natural that you are proud of your organisation and passionate in communicating this, but it’s important as much as possible to ‘keep it real’.
We advocate where possible a new employee having some access to other employees (ideally at their level or similar) at some stage in the recruitment process prior to accepting a job offer. They are much more likely to get an unbiased and balanced view of their new role and what it is like to work there.
A large proportion of new employees leave due to feeling that their new role was ‘mis-sold’. Attracting talent by giving a false picture is a recipe for disaster and will only cost you more in the long-run. Once they find out the truth they will be heading for the door…
7. Lust = an uncontrollable passion or longing
Most employees have ambitions (particularly the talented ones). They will have a longing to create a successful career, hopefully for you within your firm.
Whilst you will, or should, have covered off what the potential for development is within the role at interview stage, it is important to reiterate this regularly. Onboarding is not something that ends after week 1 or even month 1 it’s a continuous process, to which creating sensible development plans and goals will be central to success.
By setting realistic goals at the start of their employment, an employee feels confident that they can see a career path ahead. Remember though that this needs to be addressed regularly (particularly in the first 6-12 months) and you should schedule in regular feedback sessions and opportunities to speak one to one with their mentor/line manager.
Transparency in regard to career progress is one of the key factors in retaining employees during the early years. By managing expectations at the start and undertaking regular communication you can avoid the misunderstandings and frustration which often lead to employees heading for pastures new.