Why poor onboarding costs businesses millions

Some organisations’ recruitment processes are losing them money, time and resources, says Sue Lingard

We all know it happens. That perfect candidate who initially accepted your job offer changes their mind before you even get them through the door on day one. Or they turn up for a few weeks, and then hand in their notice.

Starting recruitment and onboarding all over again is uncomfortable and expensive, but is the problem big enough for HR to worry about, or try to fix, or should we just shrug our shoulders and put it down to factors outside of our control? 

In a survey Cezanne HR conducted of 1,000 full-time office workers, 37 per cent of respondents admitted that they had changed their minds on at least one occasion and not even started a new role despite having accepted the initial job offer. While 48 per cent said their heads had been turned by an offer of more money somewhere else, almost a third (30 per cent) said it was because of poor or no follow-up, or a bad experience with the organisation, after the job offer.

And the story doesn’t end if the employer manages to get the successful candidate over the line on day one; 41 per cent of respondents said they had quit a job within the first six months, with 15 per cent claiming it was because of not feeling welcome, 11 per cent saying they didn’t like the culture and 10 per cent not getting on with their boss. Staggeringly, half (50 per cent) said the job was simply not what they were expecting. 

These sorts of statistics make for sobering reading and support the long-held belief that poor selection and onboarding practices are costing UK businesses millions in recruitment and employer brand value terms. 

It’s clear that companies need to take a long hard look at their approach and, while ensuring cultural fit and a clear understanding of job roles is an essential part of the recruitment process, effective onboarding has a huge role to play. If companies can engage and enthuse employees after they’ve accepted an offer, but before they start, they are much more likely to fit in faster and a lot less likely to be tempted by a higher offer elsewhere – money is rarely the only motivator. 

However, a shocking 45 per cent of survey respondents said they had heard absolutely nothing from their present employer between being offered the job and their actual start date. It’s not enough to simply make the offer and wait for them to turn up on day one. Chances are they might not, and then you are back to an expensive square one. 

While some companies do get it right once their new employee has started – only 20 per cent felt frustrated or ignored on their first day – 32 per cent said they would have got up to speed faster if they’d had clearer goals and knew what was expected of them, 24 per cent would have appreciated more regular check-ins with their managers and – a common bugbear – 38 per cent were looking for more training. 

An uncomfortably high percentage reported that not everything was in place for their arrival. For example, 23 per cent said they had no desk and 28 per cent were missing a computer, suggesting that even relatively simple logistics is proving challenging for some organisations.

Significantly, while more than 77 per cent said health and safety was covered early on, only 55 per cent were given data security training. Given the more stringent data security requirements associated with the GDPR coming in at the end of the month, it’s an area that employers will want to ensure is addressed from day one. 

We can clearly see from the data in the survey that when they get it right it can pay significant dividends in terms of employee engagement and retention. And there really is no excuse nowadays. Effective technology can make all the difference and there are plenty of cost-effective HR systems available that can help organisations get their recruitment and onboarding processes right while saving huge amounts of HR and resourcing time and money.

Sue Lingard is marketing director at Cezanne HR