Avoid these 5 common small business onboarding mistakes

A solid onboarding process is critical to retaining your team. Still, research shows that only 12% of employees believe the business they work for onboards team members well — which leaves plenty of room for improvement. Boost your onboarding process and retain employees on a higher level by avoiding these common mistakes. 

1. Starting the process too late 

The most successful onboarding processes start before your new employee’s first day on the job. Start before they walk through the door by sending them a welcome email laying out when and where to show up as well as what the orientation schedule will look like. 

You should also send them the required paperwork they need to fill out so you’re not wasting time on their first day. Make sure they’re able to electronically sign the forms instead of having to use a printer. 

Homebase eliminates the mistake of starting too late by automating the process for you. We’ll send a welcome packet with the required forms and any additional documents you’d like to include. After your new hires e-sign the paperwork, we’ll securely store everything for you. 

2. Using a “one and done” approach

Don’t expect to onboard employees on their first day and be done with it. An effective process takes time and should include:

  • Introductions to the staff
  • Orientation on HR processes 
  • Layout of expectations and responsibilities
  • Ongoing training
  • Team-building sessions
  • Initial performance assessment
  • Feedback from employees on the process 

The length of your onboarding process will vary based on your industry, but typically a good strategy takes about 90 days to complete. 

3. Overwhelming new hires with too much information 

If you try to cram everything into one orientation session, your new employee could be left trying to figure the logistics out on their own. It’s typical for new hires to feel overwhelmed, even if you get a few things out of the way before the first day. 

Instead of dumping all the important information on them at once, extend it out over at least a week as they continue on with the process. You can include everything in an employee handbook and allow them to go over it on their own time. Set up a check-in meeting to answer any questions they may have. 

4. Failing to set expectations  

Only 33% of US employees know what’s expected of them, according to a Gallup study. On top of discussing factors like attendance policies and benefits packages, make sure you spend a large part of the process laying out a clear picture of the job to reduce confusion and frustration. 

Let your new hire know what you expect and how you’ll evaluate their performance. Set up a timeline with goals and review the plan with your new employee while explaining the necessary steps to succeed. 

5. Forgetting the feedback

Your onboarding process may seem successful from your perspective, but what did your new employee think? Feedback is essential because it helps you identify areas your new hire felt were wonky, a waste of time, or unproductive. 

After your new hire has been on the job for about 90 days, survey them on how they think the process went. Ask them what worked, what didn’t work, and take a good look at the feedback. Then, consider making changes where needed so your process can be more impactful in the future. 


Avoid mistakes by automating the process with Homebase. We’ll get started onboarding your new employee before their first day by sending a welcome packet and allowing them to e-sign all necessary documents. Then, we’ll securely store their information right in Homebase. 

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