Poor onboarding continues to cost SMEs millions

Poor 'onboarding' practices are costing SMEs millions of pounds in reputation and recruitment, but getting the process right really pays off.

Almost a third of office workers in SMEs say that they haven’t started a job role despite accepting the initial offer.

This figure rises to 41 per cent in organisations with more than 250 employees showing that SMEs are better at ‘onboarding’ new employees.

Over 51 per cent admit that they have been enticed by an offer of more money elsewhere while 33 per cent say they didn’t start because it was because of poor or no follow-up or a bad experience in the organisation following the job offer.

It doesn’t end when an employer gets the successful candidate started on day one either.

A substantial 42 per cent said that they quit a job within six months, with 33 per cent saying it was because they didn’t feel welcome and nine per cent not liking the culture, with the same percentage not getting on with their new boss. Over half (56 per cent) said that the job just wasn’t what they were expecting.

Employers not up to scratch

Sue Lingard, director at Cezanne HR, says that poor selection and onboarding practices are costing UK SMEs millions in recruitment and employer brand value terms.

‘If companies can engage and enthuse employees 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,’ she says.

Even in their current roles, a shocking 45 per cent said that they had heard absolutely nothing from their present employer between being offered the job and the actual start date with 42 per cent saying they would have liked more contact.

‘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,’ says Lingard.

Of those that did start, 18 per cent felt frustrated or ignored on their first day and 32 per cent said that they would have got up to speed faster if they had clearer goals or knew what was expected of them. Meanwhile, 23 per cent would have appreciated more regular check-ins with their managers and 35 per cent are looking for more training.

Get the basics in place

A worrying 20 per cent said they had no desk and 22 per cent were missing a computer when they started in their new role. Almost three quarters said health and safety was covered early on, but only 48 per cent were given data security training.

Lingard concludes that those SMEs who get it right really see dividends when it comes to employee engagement and retention.

‘Effective technology can make all the difference and there are plenty of cost-effective HR systems available that can help even the smallest organisations get their recruitment and onboarding processes right while saving a huge amount of HR and resourcing time and money.’

Further reading on hiring employees

Why it’s time to look past the university degree when hiring

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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