When onboarding goes bad – and how to fix it

‘Worst onboarding experiences’ sounds like a great topic – one that would have lots of fabulous stories. So I asked my readers, expecting the responses to flood in. They didn’t.

I got: “I started a new job, and IT hadn’t set up my computer yet,” and “the new employee’s manager was out sick, and so there was no one to take him to lunch!”

Tragic examples, I’m sure, but also not the fun, shareable stories I hoped for. And I wondered why. Did all companies have smooth onboarding experiences? Has the onboarding problem been solved?

I don’t think so. Here’s what I think is going on. Employees don’t know what to expect from onboarding.

My first job was at a fast-food restaurant. I’m pretty sure my onboarding experience included filling out tax paperwork that I didn’t understand and then watching a video or two on food safety. Then someone trained me how to run a cash register.

To keep reading click here: When onboarding goes bad – and how to fix it

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8 thoughts on “When onboarding goes bad – and how to fix it

  1. I started a new position, no computer; given fleet car and after I drove it 5 days I was told don’t drive you’re not on the insurance yet. Was told there would be a company phone but not good service. I was told there would be someone to spend a few days with me – no one. I made it my own way but …,, no one thinks how the company looks to a newcomer when these bloopers happen.

    1. My first job out of college, I was promised business cards on my first day. By the time I was laid off three years later, I never received those business cards despite my interacting with vendors and potential vendors.

      In all my subsequent jobs, even the one that eventually fired me, I had business cards within a week….

  2. At one job, they have my computer, a flight booked, and a hotel reservation but no one had told me what I had to do once there. Sometimes IT consultancy requires you to read minds. XD

    About 4 months in, someone realized that I haven’t done the onboarding and sent me to the fourth and last session where they did games and explained the company values. Of course by that time nothing they told me made sense and I could see that the way they actually did things had nothing to do with what they were telling me… Breakfast was really good though. hahaha

    1. I got business cards my first day. It was company policy to use a pseudonym, so the boss just went to the supply closet and grabbed a half-used box of a previous employee’s business cards for me, and in so doing, renamed me. This seemed intensely weird but didn’t cause problems until my first repeat customer. He said I looked really different, and was my sister doing better? (I don’t have a sister.)

  3. I changed jobs in the Fall of 2019, after 15+ years with my previous employer. I was hired by the local school district to work in their printing department.

    My onboarding consisted of meeting an HR rep at the main headquarters, where they gave me my employee number, set me up in the biometric time clock, and gave me my District Photo ID. I was then sent to the print shop.

    I saw that there was a New Employee Orientation scheduled for two days later and asked my boss if I could go to it. He said sure.

    Very little of the Orientation applied to me. I’m paid hourly, and the Orientation was designed for the salaried employees – mainly teachers. We have different PTO policies (Salaried staff get more paid holidays, but hourly staff get more vacation, we all end up with the same amount of total PTO). Since I was the only hourly staff member in the orientation, I decided to hold my questions until later, so that I didn’t slow down the orientation.

    It’s been three years, and I’m still learning about policies that apply to me. There’s no One Good Source for information.

    Just remembered, HR also had my status coded incorrectly in the system. Like I said, I’m an hourly employee, or what the District calls Bi-Weekly. They had me coded as Salaried (or Monthly). It was an easy fix.

  4. In my current position, there was zero onboarding. It was a brand-new position, with 4 of us hired, in different locales, to service the entire Country. We were given goals, computers and phones, but zero guidance on how to do our jobs, what systems to use — or, really, set up — etc. The result was 4 individuals, all doing the same job, with radically different systems, some which work well, and some less so. Frankly, I think the lack of onboarding has created a lot of unnecessary stress. We are in an Agency legendary for long-tenured employees, including some with 50 or 60 years of service. But, in our positions — which are considered “plum” — there has been a 50% turnover rate, with employees either retiring or moving on to other positions. And, the retirees have been at relatively young ages, and not actually retiring from work, just retiring from the organization. I have encouraged the best and brightest of those retiring to “come back” as a consultant — a common practice in Government — and “write the manual” on how to do our jobs, but that hasn’t happened yet. So, a new one coming in still runs the risk of starting an important, high-profile, high stress, job with little to no organized guidance.

  5. First day on the job drove to the office to get my building pass and laptop. Told they don’t have a laptop ready, and need to drive to a different building to get my pass. Staff at the second building tells me to drive to a third building because they give building passes. Pay for parking at a third place, wait an hour, told they’re took backed up to give out building passes. So I should come back in ONE MONTH’S TIME!

  6. Isn’t this onboarding part of the HR job or is it now just something else passed on for others, who are not detailed oriented to perform and then have to deal with the consequences of not getting the “paperwork” filled out properly. Granted a lot of this “needed” paperwork can be done by filling out forms online, but somehow there are communication glitches in the processing system.–for example, cutoff dates prior to a payroll cycle, if the paperwork is not received, the potential hire is not put into the system until the next pay cycle, but meanwhile, the employee is expected to show up for work. I am sure there are plenty of examples of this lack of onboarding, which the article failed to offer real solutions other than someone needs to take responsibility. I nominate the HR department.

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