This is the twenty-ninth in a series of blogs supporting the College to Career Calendar available for downloading at Today’s blog discusses onboarding.
So what is onboarding? It is the action or process of integrating a new employee into an organization. Why is it important? Why should you care how quickly you become a productive member of your new team? What control do you have over the process?
Research shows that the employer forms an opinion of how well an employee will do during the first 2-4 weeks on the job. Employers will terminate employees who are not meeting expectations.
But it is not just employers who find themselves unhappy and wanting to end an employment relationship. It is estimated 40% of employees leave their new job within 6 months.
You put a lot of effort into landing a job. It is a good investment in your future to understand the challenges and opportunities the onboarding process offers from both your perspective and your new employer’s perspective.
Let’s start with the most common reasons employers site for terminating new employees:
• Poor quality work
• Negative attitude
• Not working well with others
• Inadequate skills
• Attendance issues
• Customer complaints

Now for the most common reasons new employees leave a job:
• The work is not as interesting as the job description/interviewer made it sound.
• Don’t like the boss
• Not getting the training you need to do your job
• Other jobs/offers sound more interesting

How does this a relationship, where both parties are enthusiastic about working together, switch to a state of incompatibility to quickly? Perhaps this is what happened.

The new employee, a recent college graduate, earned top honors and kept a part-time job by skipping an occasional class and pulling “all-nighters” to get projects done on time. Getting assignments done well was the goal, not the time spent sitting in class. Often the new graduate was able to choose the topic/subject of a research/term project and selected the ones that provided challenge and an opportunity to be creative. When the new grad gets their first on-the-job work assignment he/she focuses on getting it done on time, not when they arrive at work or pacing the progress of the project. The new grad always responds to phone requests for information from internal and external clients. Often he/she is not happy about the assignment because it is not interesting and after completing it is told that it was done “the way we do it.”

The new grads supervisor (employer) expects employees to be at their desk by 8 AM and stay until 5 PM because those are the hours employees are paid to work and he/she want employees to be available to respond to requests from internal and external customers during those hours. The employer assigns projects based on seniority, with the most challenging one’s going to employees he/she knows are able to do the work. To stay on top of all the projects, the way his/her performance is evaluated, the supervisor sets milestones for projects so progress can be regularly monitored. Because the new grad just hired was such a great student he/she assumes they will not have a problem completing the simple project assigned.

Can you see how each of these people could have a negative view the other one?

The new employee thought projects would be challenging and sees no reason to keep strict hours as long as the work gets done. The new employee quickly comes to the conclusion the supervisor is a “bad boss” because he/she is assigning boring projects and then saying it was not done incorrectly. Finding another job becomes a great idea.

The employer sees the new employee as an under performer with a negative attitude because it was obvious he/she did not like their assignment and did not put in the effort to do it correctly. Arriving late to work is seen as being disrespectful to other team members, shows a lack of respect for the organization and the people it serves, and will affect how upper management evaluates him/her.

We can see the reasons why an employee leaves and an employer terminates an employee are not because anyone wishes the other will fail, but because their understanding of job performance expectations is different. Without an effective onboarding, an organized process for clearly communicating expectations and opportunities for growth, an employer is faced with the cost and time of finding a new employee and the employee is faced with starting a new job search.

Though it would be wonderful if employers took the lead in the onboarding process the fact is that many good employers fall short in this area. It is estimated  22% of employers do not have an onboarding program and others only offer a partial day onboarding process.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to discuss strategies for assuring you are able to successfully and quickly become a productive member of your new team, even if your employer does not have a comprehensive onboarding process. Many successful employees have created their own onboarding process and discovered they did get the job described in the job posting to which they applied.

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