When Onboarding Goes Wrong

Onboarding is important. It’s not just about paperwork–it’s about helping a new employee feel comfortable and helping the current employees accept and embrace (figuratively) the new employee.

Sometimes companies don’t think out the process.

Sometimes things just go wrong.

Sometimes we laugh at those things.

Can you share your stories about when onboarding has gone wrong?

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

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9 thoughts on “When Onboarding Goes Wrong

  1. When I left my company, HR gave me an exit survey and said I could ask for an interview if I wanted one. The questionnaire was all about my onboarding: Were speakers at the group event friendly and informative? Did the boss introduce me? But I’d been there so many years that anyone involved in my onboarding had left or retired. The questions left me with the impression that most people left within days of hiring, so something (what?) was wrong with hiring or onboarding. I knew from the screwy followups to employee satisfaction surveys that if I said anything besides “onboarding was great!” HR would scold my current boss (who hired me years after I started) and give him an onboarding improvement plan. So I didn’t return the survey. (Actually, onboarding really was great but for a reinforcement of the same lesson I got during interviews: we don’t eat lunch here! Since snacking in a meeting was inappropriate at my previous employer, I had a very hungry first week before I realized that everyone did it at the new place.)

  2. Asking employees form questions about “onboarding” will not improve the process because it assumes that everyone shared the same expected experience regardless of the individual experience. I find these sessions boring and repetitive, and they don’t want your questions or interruptions as they have the “elitist” perception that they have the perfect plan. They only ask for the survey so they have a record of having “asked” the employees’ opinions. This is just another dehumanizing ploy of employees by the employer company.

  3. Everyone hired in the previous calendar month had a “meet and greet” at corporate in the middle of the next month. So there were about 20 of us and we go around the room – my name is (Annie) and I am a (data analyst) and I work in (the outside sales) department, under (my manager’s name). Before I worked here I was at (some other company) where I (did the same thing). And everyone from custodial to e-staff is in that meeting. The guy sitting beside me looked pretty average, I assumed he was an engineer or similar. No, before he worked at that company he was an astronaut. Space Shuttle commander on 5 missions. Everyone in the room remembered James’ name. No one remembered mine.

  4. I had absolutely no onboarding. As the new leader of a small non profit, I walked in to greet my single full-time employee. No board members there to say hello, not even a message from the board chair. I had to figure out/fill in all my own HR paperwork, because now I was the HR director, too. The former leader met with me a couple of times on weekends (on my own time) to teach me how to use the accounting system. This pretty much indicated the support I would receive for the rest of my time on that job.

  5. I started a Federal job at the Presidio of San Francisco (California) in September 1986. I was told to report to the Personnel Office at 7:30 a.m. Other new employees (maybe 20-30) were there also. Various Personnel Office employees gave us information and called us into another room to give us more information. I was there for 5 hours! No one had told me in advance that I might be there for hours, so I had not brought any reading material with me. There was nothing to read in the waiting area, except for items on the bulletin boards. I don’t remember whether there was even a water fountain. My lunch was sitting outside, in my car. One other new employee sitting next to me in the Personnel Office grumbled that he should have accepted a different job offer (which he had turned down). When I arrived at my new office, my new boss was not surprised that I had arrived so late. What a way to start a new job! Despite that miserable first day, I remained with the Federal Government for 12 years.

  6. Worked in a highly technical field. The norm in that industry is 6-8 weeks of onboarding about technical aspects of things. One employer literally spent 3-6 months training people.

    One company I took a job with had a standard technical onboarding process that they put with the avowed least capable person. Her job was to simply read slides because the technical aspects weren’t in her wheel well. Even that she couldn’t really handle. Lots of wrong technical information was given out, she’d simply walk out at random parts of the day without telling anyone, and had other major serious performance problems that weren’t being properly managed.

    Later found out, that HR of this large company said this individual couldn’t be put on a PIP because she was, “a member of various minorities which helps make us competitive when bidding on federal contracts. Find a job for her, and cut her pay when she doesn’t show up for parts of the day. I know she’s exempt, but she won’t know any better.”

    The company had issues with fresh out of college employees thinking it was ok to walk out for hours at a time without telling anyone, falling asleep at their desks, and long, loud personal phone conversations during the day in a cubicle farm. Because their onboarding person did these things regularly. It took years in some cases to train some of these new hires on normal office practices.

    Sometimes I’m still surprised that company manages to be in business.

  7. To the extent that a briefing on “the way we do things here” is needed, I ask those questions in the interview, before they hire me. I especially look for telltales of wokeness such as a company that mentions “privilege” or asks you your pronouns before they know anything about you. Companies with woke managers or woke HR are pure poison; they’ll find some bogus reason to fire you for dissent, and then try to destroy your subsequent career.

  8. This comment was made by a recruiter to my son; he changed his mind post-offer acceptance because the onboarding process was such a mess and his “boss to be” showed a completely different “angry” side than he had during interviews. Red flags were flying everywhere; they expected him to quit immediately before prehire requirements were completed but did not forward that information for almost a week after the offer was made. As soon as the offer was given, the recruiter disappeared and did not check in at all, then feigned shock when my son decided things were not going to work out.

    “It is disappointing to find out via email that you ‘changed your mind.’ Hopefully your boss at least gave you a raise out of this. Assuming you accepted a counteroffer? Hope it works out for you… statistically speaking 9 out of 10 times… it does not. Maybe you will be the 10th.”

    Just bad form all around, during what is supposed to be the “honeymoon period” of a new position. I told my son to trust his gut and thank god he did. I think it would have been a nightmare of a place to work and that the recruiter needs to check herself.

  9. Situations when it is impossible to join the rhythm of a new company happen because each company has a different approach to work. And at the stage of adaptation, the employer or recruiter should support the employee as much as possible and at least take care of the paperwork, which is easier to do in a mobile form https://fluix.io/form-builder . In general, you need to take care of the comfort of the new employee and make the adaptation process comfortable so that this period passes quickly, that is, you need to pay the most attention to the human resource

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