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Top 6 Employee Onboarding Challenges

Having a structured plan for employee onboarding is one of the best ways to make sure each new hire gets up to speed quickly and effectively.

Download this easy-to-use checklist now and see just how much of a difference it can make.


Organizations today are facing a number of challenges when it comes to onboarding new employees.

In order to ensure a smooth transition and successful integration into the company, it is important to identify and address these challenges early on.

In this post I'll share the top 6 employee onboarding challenges.

Being aware of these will help you identify your company’s roadblocks when designing your new employee onboarding process.


Onboarding challenges are not just getting the paperwork, new hire orientation, and employee training.

It's the A-Z of employee experience from the contract is signed and the first 3-12 months in the new job. 

Challenge #1: Low Investment in employee onboarding

Onboarding is becoming a strategic growth area.

This is the case in companies that need to attract and retain top talent.

Especially those with a high level of maturity, where HR’s focus is shifting from compliance to experience.

This strategic approach reinforces that onboarding is an investment that can solve many of the people challenges that come later in the employee journey.

Similarly, many organizations overlook employee onboarding planning until they need to hire.

In fact, only 33% of companies surveyed by HR.com reported having an employee onboarding plan.

If you wait until the employee starts work, there’s little time left for detailed planning.

Challenge #2: Haphazard onboarding and managers failing to give a great experience

The onboarding process is usually left to hiring managers to handle.

Some give new hires a WOW experience, others can fall embarrassingly and drastically short.

When there's a lack of planning, unclear expectations and guidelines are often the main culprits.

A great employee onboarding experience doesn’t happen by chance.

It needs to be designed deliberately with all the stakeholders involved.

Unsurprisingly, it’s easier for HR to create a new and consistent onboarding process than to rely on managers, who often end up being none other than a headache for HR.

Managers are busy and are rarely trained to give new hires the positive employee onboarding experience they need.

This is because employee onboarding is often seen as the department’s job.

The classic pitfall is having onboarding as the employee’s first interaction with HR, rather than managers.

But employee experience during the onboarding period still largely depends on how managers approach it.

Think about it.

How can you expect to get a good company culture, when the employee’s first days and weeks are not optimized by the manager to create the right habits?

Are you looking to your human resources or your technological resources to resolve this employee onboarding issue?

Download the comprehensive Employee Onboarding Checklist by Dr. Talya Bauer —  start making your onboarding process easier today

Challenge #3: Disconnect between hiring and onboarding processes

Talent acquisition is a key function in business and has always gotten a lot of attention.

Research shows that companies with a dedicated talent acquisition team are able to increase employee engagement and reduce employee turnover.

The problem is that, until recently, the onboarding process has often been an afterthought.

A study by Aberdeen found that 78% of best-in-class organizations have closely aligned their hiring and onboarding processes.

In contrast, only 28% of underperformers did so.

A lack of integration between hiring and onboarding can lead to a poor employee onboarding experience for the employee, as well as inefficient use of time and resources for managers, recruiters, and HR.

If new-hires have to go through separate processes during employee orientation and employee onboarding, this can lead to confusion and frustration.

This disconnect is an issue if we acknowledge that employees make up their minds about liking a new job and move into the post-evaluation process as early as the day they sign an agreement with you.

We can categorically conclude is that onboarding matters.

What experience do you offer your new hires in their first 90 days? Take a look at Talya Bauer PhD. employee onboarding checklist to see if you have covered the basics.

Challenge #4: Lack of employee engagement

If there is one word that comes up time and time again, it’s engagement.

It’s a quality that has a far-reaching impact on new hires and those responsible for implementing the onboarding process.

Low engagement leads to low productivity.

Poor connection with peers.

And challenging workplace relationships on the job.

Think about your own experience and ask yourself this question:

How motivated were you during employee onboarding?

Did you feel like part of the team or were you just another cog in the machine?

Your answer is likely to be a good indicator of whether your company needs to up its employee engagement game.

When we consider that 70% of an employee’s experience is related to their direct manager, we can see why it’s important to recognize their role in this process.

For example, employee onboarding surveys point to the fact that, if managers are not trained in employee engagement or employee development, they can lose valuable time and money trying to figure out why new hires don’t fit in.

This makes employee onboarding crucial and requires shift leaders to have a robust employee orientation strategy in place.

Educating, coaching, and supporting managers is key if we are to build positive and lasting relationships amongst team members.

Only then will we see and feel real change. 

Are your managers driving new hire engagement, and how? 

Challenge #5: On-the job-training of frontline employees is unsatisfactory

Onboarding 5 people is one thing.

But what about when you have to onboard 500 people? Each month?

Onboarding high volumes of knowledge-workers and frontline workers is a real-world challenge in corporations the world over.

This applies to any customer-facing brand – think national retail franchises, utilities, telecoms, and infrastructure companies.

HR can create a great onboarding process, but they often do not have the time and resources to provide the experience that new employees expect and deserve.

For example , a new employee at a retail store might be asked to complete an online onboarding program.

But how much of that will they remember when they’re on the shop floor and have to deal with irate customers?

Probably not very much.

The outcome is not only a worrying variation in results but one leaving local managers to do the work and finding themselves without the time and knowledge needed to give a great and consistent experience to all. 

This is where technology comes in, in the form of micro-learning modules.

These bite-sized employee onboarding packages can be accessed at the employee’s convenience and help them to quickly build a strong foundation of knowledge.

They might learn how to use an ERP system, or some quick-and-easy life hacks for customer service interactions.

Whatever it is, employee onboarding software can support employee growth and reduce employee turnover.

And this applies particularly to high-volume hiring situations — typically frontline employees.

As a manager, how are you ensuring that your entire staff is up to speed?

Challenge # 6: The orchestration between stakeholders often fails 

Identifying who is involved in each employee’s day-to-day, who their reports are, and who should be pulled into the ecosystem of communication requires a lot.

Asking the right questions and understanding the responsibilities of individual employees.

And most companies rely on someone to do this repeatedly with every new hire.

A quick example is onboarding in a sales team.

The hiring manager may be responsible for sales training, but they also need an ecosystem to help keep that process organized.

They will likely work with other departments, like marketing, IT, and customer success.

Not to mention, the employee’s teammates will also have an impact on their development.

If you want to avoid confusion and misalignment, you need to ensure that everyone involved in employee onboarding knows their roles and expectations.

And can stick to them.

Only then can you hope to create a cohesive employee onboarding experience.

Communication channels must be integrated, enhancing consistency and keeping everyone on the same page.

Identifying key team players and their responsibilities in the employee onboarding process can be facilitated with ease using onboarding software.

That way all new hires are appropriately supported, getting to work with higher productivity levels, while managers are freed up to get their jobs done too.

Do you know who your stakeholders are and do you have a system that ensures that things do not fall between the cracks? 


Employee onboarding challenges are a real and pressing concern for many corporations today.

Whether it is the need to train high volumes of frontline workers, or the challenge of ensuring alignment between stakeholders, there are many roadblocks that companies must navigate in order to create an effective employee onboarding process.

However, by utilizing technology solutions like chatbots, automation, and employee onboarding software, organizations can effectively address these challenges and improve employee satisfaction and retention.

So if you want to ensure that your employees have the knowledge they need to succeed in their roles, it is crucial to identify and overcome these employee onboarding challenges.


Make sure your next cohort of new hires are fully prepared for success with this downloadable employee onboarding checklist.

Print it out and use it as a guide to ensure that each and every step of the onboarding process is covered.