Why the One-Day Employee Onboarding Experience Is Useless

3 min read
May 25, 2015

Optimized-iStock_000032660160_LargeThe first day on the job is like the first day of school. New employees are nervous and most likely feeling they’re under-prepared. The worst thing to do at this point is shove them in a room with a bunch of fellow newbies, throw some paperwork at them, and ask them to watch a video about company culture.

The process of welcoming new hires and getting them up to speed shouldn’t be relegated to just one day. First impressions do matter — and employees are willing to walk out the door if they’re not getting a proper introduction. A survey by Ultimate Software found that:

  • One-third of employees know whether they would stay at their company long-term after one week or less

One-day orientations contribute to turnover by not only setting a bad tone but also by not fully supporting employees. Here are some reasons why:

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

When organizations are feeling pinched for time and resources, one-day orientations seem like an easy way to kill several birds with one stone.

With new hires, less is more. If you’re overloading them with information, paperwork, and a lot of jargon, you’re overwhelming them to beyond the point of boredom. On top of that, if they’re packed in a room with other newbies from across the company, most of whom they’ll never work with, the whole thing feels impersonal and really awkward.

One-day orientations tend to be very one-size-fits-all affairs, when what new employees are looking for are specifics on responsibilities, mentorship, and a chance to meet their coworkers. A brief orientation can kickstart the onboarding process, but it shouldn’t replace it entirely or consume a new hire’s first day.

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Employees Aren’t Set Up for Success

Consider this: it takes employees an average of eight months to fully settle into their roles. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, employees are successfully onboarded when they’re confident in their performance, they understand their role, they’re socially integrated into the company, and they know the company’s culture. All that simply doesn’t happen in a day.

A step-by-step process, whether that’s over the first three or even six months, is much more effective. Employees get time to understand their responsibilities, learn new skills, and receive feedback on their progress. With an all-day orientation, there’s no focus on training and hardly ever any follow-up.

It’s Not About the Employees

A one-day orientation ends up focusing on the company, not the people they’ve hired.

Researchers have found that helping employees showcase their individuality on the first day can have a positive impact on turnover and customer satisfaction. So save the presentations on the company history for another time and ask new hires to share what they think are their unique strengths. A fun questionnaire can help break the ice, not to mention offer insights into what your new employees are bringing to the company culture.

Finally, most new employees want to get started doing what they’ve been hired to do, so why not use the first day as a way for them to ease into their role? Give them a chance to make an impact on day one, and they’ll likely get a better feel for the company they’ve just joined.

The one-day orientation is, thankfully, slowly becoming a thing of the past. The Aberdeen Group reports that 76% of companies have extended their employee onboarding programs to beyond month. Recognizing that the one-size-fits-all, company-first mentality of these orientations are detrimental to a new hire’s success is the first step to a more successful onboarding process.



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