6 Common Employee Onboarding Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Most of us have gone through this – an onboarding compiled only of one day of instruction, BHP online training that brings zero value or – at worst – a single PowerPoint presentation to guide us through the first months of a new job, practically alone. 

This is just one of the many mistakes that a company can make during the onboarding planning phase – or lack of it. Putting too much pressure on shadowing or lacking any feedback loop – to name a few. 

The truth is harsh. Despite the clear benefits of onboarding, a shocking 35% of companies spend zero dollars on it. This means that over a third of new hires are being thrown into their role with little to no support, which can result in a slow start and lower productivity. 

On the other hand, employees who go through a long-term, structured onboarding process can achieve full productivity 34% faster than those who have no onboarding at all. This is a significant difference that can translate into tangible benefits for the company, such as higher output, improved quality, and a lower risk of turnover. 

Don't worry; everything can be fixed. If you stick with us, you can expect to learn more about the causes of this process and examples of common onboarding mistakes to avoid with our practical tips. 

Challenges of Creating a Smooth Onboarding Process

The employee onboarding processes are a critical component of any organization's success. This process ensures that new employees are properly integrated into the company culture and equipped with the tools they need to succeed in their new position. However, poor onboarding preparation and planning can lead to significant challenges that can negatively impact employee performance and overall business outcomes.   

Nothing happens without reason. If we understand the causes and difficulties of such poor onboarding preparation and planning in many companies, it will be easier to fix it or change it. Hence, it becomes easier to develop strategies that address these issues and create a successful onboarding experience for a new hire.  So, what are the most common employee onboarding challenges?  

  • Formulaic onboarding - One of the most significant challenges that companies face in the employee onboarding process is creating a monotonous procedure that lacks personalization and engagement, leading to disinterest and decreased motivation among new hires. 
  • Hiring and onboarding aren't connected - Another common challenge in the employee onboarding process is a disconnection between hiring and induction. Often, the hiring process may not effectively communicate the expectations and requirements of the onboarding, leading to confusion and delays for a new team member. 
  • Onboarding paperwork nightmare - To complete routine paperwork can also be a hurdle in the first days of work. Often, a new hire may struggle to understand and complete the necessary paperwork, leading to delays and frustration on both sides. 
  • No resources - Finally, one of the most significant challenges in the process is a low investment in onboarding. Many companies may not see the value in investing time and resources in the onboarding process, leading to a lack of preparation and planning that can negatively impact new employees. 


What can go wrong?  

An ineffective work environment can have several negative consequences for both employees and the organization. Higher turnover rates, poor concentration, problems with time management and stifled relationships are just some of the issues that can arise. 

 It can also lead to reduced employee health and productivity, as stress alone can cost a company an average of $600 per employee per year. In addition, disengaged employees can cost companies nearly $16,000 per year. It is, therefore, vital for businesses to prioritise creating a supportive company culture that promotes employee wellbeing, productivity and engagement. 


Examples of bad onboarding 


In 2017, an investigation by former US Attorney General Eric Holder found that Uber failed to adequately train and prepare new hires. The report found that Uber's onboarding process did not effectively convey the company's cultural values and expectations, leading to inappropriate behaviour by some employees. 


In 2019, a former Amazon employee wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, describing the company's onboarding procedures as "sink or swim." According to the employee, new hires were given little guidance and support and expected to figure everything out independently. 


In 2019, GoWork faced criticism for its poor onboarding process, with some employees reporting that they had not received any training or guidance after being hired. Others reported that they were not provided with the necessary tools and resources to perform their job effectively. 

Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them 

Are you struggling to create an effective onboarding program for new employees? Don't worry; you're not alone! Many companies make common employee onboarding mistakes that can hinder the success of their induction process. 

We'll discuss some of these errors and provide tips on how to fix them - from forgetting to provide important information to rushing through the training process. Keep reading to learn how you can improve your onboarding program and set your new hires up for success. 

#1 Assuming that everything is obvious

Assuming that everything is obvious and easy to understand for a new employee It is often forgotten that new employees know nothing about the day-to-day running of the business. Initially, they are unaware of the unwritten rules and how you work and function daily. 

All too often, some obvious things are taken for granted and forgotten to pass on to the new employee, such as information on how to secure a parking space, how breaks are taken in practice - is it the norm for the whole team to go out to lunch together, or does everyone have their schedule?  Usually, it is also about using tools everyone seems to be familiar with, but this is not always true. E.g. printers, MS Team Support or Excel.    


  • Invest time and resources in training on the tools. 
  • Create a guide that includes the most important information and work hacks. 
  • Talk to your team so that they are open to questions and can help the new employees. 

#2 Lack of time and room for full induction

One of the typical employee onboarding mistakes is poor onboarding design, trying to train people in a week when the process usually takes 3 months, not a few days.  At the same time, as little training and preparation as possible are provided - just a few overly general online courses and too much reliance on spontaneous shadowing. 

Did you know that companies are much more vulnerable to high turnover and low employee loyalty if they move too quickly through their onboarding? Not spending time and money on proper training sessions is a way to save financial resources only in the short run.


  • Create a detailed plan for training during the initial month. 
  • Spread out orientation and training gradually across two or three months. 
  • Appoint a mentor to provide assistance and guidance. 
  • Conduct regular check-ins to monitor progress and provide feedback. 


#3 One onboarding for the whole organization

Avoid this at all costs. The same onboarding process for IT, the management or even a hiring manager is a no-go! Induction should be tailored to the department and team and their level of knowledge or skills required.

Not every onboarding session is suitable for everyone, and taking shortcuts will only result in untrained and unsure employees who will make mistakes and take much more time to become independent. A developer will need a completely different introduction to tools and the company than an SEO specialist, right? 


  • Design different induction programmes for each team.
  • Use onboarding platforms such as Grow Opinion, where you can find ready-made scenarios. 
  • Tailor onboarding to junior/mid/senior level.

#4 Forgetting about pre-boarding

To few companies take advantage of a very important period for a prospective employee that holds a lot of potential - the notice period at the previous workplace. During this time, the new hire could get to know the new job, its policies and future team members, so that he or she is better prepared for Day 1. This month or three are crucial in establishing contact and rapport, so engaging with the HR professional and leader already during this period - not just the day before - can be invaluable. 


  • Modern onboarding tools offer personalised introductory panels for new hires. 
  • Including company information, team introductions and documents to sign. 
  • Open and regular communication is key to smooth onboarding. 

#5 Lack of clear roles

Lack of clear roles for a new hire, manager, buddy and HR If everyone can help with a task, no one will feel responsible for it. During the onboarding period, it will be crucial to clearly identify who does what in the induction of a new employee - for example, the HR specialist who deals with the initial contact and paperwork and the manager and buddy support in the first few months. 

Both the employee and managers should feel comfortable with the process. Too often, companies neglect to plan and define the division of responsibilities, resulting in a lack of commitment from the whole team or the manager. The new hires are left to pick up scraps of knowledge from the team around them. The buddy alone cannot support the new person, just as the manager has a lot of other commitments to take care of - they need a clear task list. 


  • Create a file or use an onboarding platform to distribute onboarding tasks between HR, buddy, manager and new hire. 
  • Develop a training plan but leave room for autonomy.
  • Do not put all the burden of onboarding on one person.

#6 Lack of planning and organization for Day 1 

The last of the cardinal sins of onboarding is neglecting to prepare for the first day of work and underestimating the power of first impressions. Typically, HR has to introduce the new hires out of the blue because nothing has been prepared - access, proper and interactive training or introduction to the team. The new joiner is inundated with formalities and paperwork to sign and no practical information - about the team, the position, the tools, the working hours, or perks.  It is one of the serious employee onboarding challenges that we need to address.


  • Prepare a daily schedule in advance and send it to the new employee.
  • Sign documents online before day 1.
  • Plan an attractive orientation for the new hires.


Employee Onboarding Process Flow  

For organisations to maximise employee performance and business results, effective onboarding is a must. It should not be viewed as a one-day event but rather as a long-term investment in employee development. A well-designed onboarding process creates a highly successful and engaged workforce that benefits the company, its employees and its customers. 

And if you need a helping hand, what about trying out an online and automated onboarding platform? Plus, gamified content and strategies! With Grow Uperion, you will be able to leverage the power of game elements and psychology, such as the progress bar for filling in paperwork, to upgrade your overall onboarding process easily and cost-effectively! 

In the platform, it’s super easy to divide tasks and roles for the onboarding per person, and every user has a personalised interface showing the status of tasks and points acquired. Make onboarding fun, simple and with business value! Contact us for more information and a free consultation.