Where’s my computer? Survey finds onboarding needs improvement

Onboarding is an essential part of the employee experience, and in a tight job market, employers will have to do it better if they want to retain new hires

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The first few days of work are always awkward. Half the time, it seems like no one knows where you’re supposed to sit. Then, your computer doesn’t work. And where’s the bathroom? What is all this paperwork for? And the person who is supposed to teach you the proprietary CMS is on vacation …

ServiceNow, a cloud platform, surveyed 2001 U.S. office workers about the onboarding experience, conducted by Edelman Intelligence.

Companies processes for managing their new hires – everything from first-day “where’s my computer” issues to first-month “what’s my job” training tasks – are supposed to make everything run smoothly.

It doesn’t always work out that way, although onboarding is crucial – a recent study showed that companies with a good onboarding process can improve its new-hire retention by up to 82%. One in three office workers would rather go on a cringe-worthy first date than an onboarding orientation for a new job, the survey found.

That’s because onboarding isn’t always as well thought-out as employers might think it is. Seventy-nine percent of office workers have experienced glitches during the onboarding process. Of that percentage:

  • 28% felt they had no clearly defined job responsibilities and goals
  • 26% had IT issues
  • 26% had no real onboarding program
  • 19% didn’t feel completely onboarded, even after 3 months
  • 18% didn’t have a computer

Some of the top things that workers said would make their first day at a new job great (and here’s another list):

  • A walk-through of important processes (58%)
  • Being assigned a buddy to ask questions (58%)
  • Being given time to review the onboarding materials (47%)
  • A welcome lunch (40%)

Frustrated? Onboard yourself

Sometimes, a successful onboarding process is one you can take control of yourself: Instead of waiting for the company to guide you, go ahead and make a friend, set expectations for 30, 60, and 90 days with your manager, document your early successes, and begin to scout around for a mentor. You don’t even have to wait until the first day to begin taking action like reaching out on social media with members of your new organization.

Harvard Business Review also recommends seizing the reigns on your own onboarding by taking initiative to ask your boss key questions in the first months about how you can help them succeed, what they’d like you to accomplish in certain time frames, and how your success will be measured.

Just make sure you have a computer first.

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.