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New recruit negligence: ineffective onboarding risks losing employees, as 63% say the process was ‘insufficient’

With one in four employees looking to change jobs, many new recruits lack guidance on personal targets or core duties, and are missing support for imposter syndrome.

UK companies risk losing new-hire employees during their crucial first months, according to a new study. 63% of employees who started new jobs within the last year felt that the onboarding process they received was ‘insufficient’, with companies failing to adapt the process to hybrid and remote working. 

Employees in the first year of their current role were asked about the quality of the onboarding process they experienced. It was found that nearly half of new employees weren’t given personal targets for role progression (49%). In addition, just over one in three (34%) weren’t made aware of their core responsibilities. These two elements are crucial in engaging employees in new roles. 

The data showed that over two in five employees (42%) suffered from strong feelings of imposter syndrome during onboarding, for which they didn’t receive adequate support. According to Google Trends data, there’s been a 58% increase in searches for imposter syndrome symptoms over the last two years. Without workplace support, this psychological condition can lead to feelings of anxiety, guilt and even depression*.

The ‘UK Employee Support and Retention Survey’ was conducted by virtual events and in-person team building company Wildgoose. It asked employees from 133 UK companies about their onboarding experience at their new company, what current or previous employers could do better to retain their employees, and what workplace pressures affected retention over the last year.

Issues with onboarding were most prevalent in SMEs, where 77% of new starters felt the process was substandard. This figure, while still more than half, fell to 53% of new employees at enterprise-level companies (1,000+ employees).

Increasing employee retention: what do UK workers want from companies? 

The Wildgoose study revealed 9 in 10 UK employees feel their company doesn’t do enough to retain its employee talent. One in three think their career has stagnated and don’t see any opportunities for progression at their current company. Furthermore, over a quarter of employees are currently searching for a new job.

When asked what companies could do to improve staff retention, employees identified three key areas for companies to focus on: 

  • 60% felt that increased pay would have helped convince them to stay
  • 53% said they would have been happier with a better work/life balance
  • 49% wanted more opportunities for career progression

Commenting on the findings, Wildgoose managing director Jonny Edser said:

“Over recent months, it’s become increasingly clear that companies need to start doing more to increase their levels of employee retention. As many of us return to our usual workplaces and in-person onboarding processes can begin once again, there has never been a better time to step up the standards. 

“The first few months of an employee’s time at a workplace should be focused on guidance, training, direction and values. Yet it’s not only work-related subjects that new employees should receive support for. Casual catch-ups and wellbeing check-ins can go a long way to help new staff feel welcomed and engaged with their role. At Wildgoose, we continue to offer both in-person and virtual team building experiences, helping companies to encourage colleague friendships and ensure everyone feels happy.”

Tracey Hudson, executive director at HR Dept says:

“To encourage employee retention, line managers should be conducting regular 1:1 meetings — monthly or quarterly is fine. Questions should be asked around what they enjoy to determine which aspects of their employment they value, and what benefits are important to them. Directors should use this feedback to form future benefit strategies and line managers should use this knowledge to help employees get to where they want to be in terms of their career plans. If employees can see there’s a path for them, then they’ll be more committed.”

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