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The Number One Reason New Employees Fail

There are a bunch of reasons why your new employee might fail.

They don’t know what to do.

They’re unclear of what’s expected of them.

They haven’t been integrated into the culture of the business.

Provided you’ve got the hiring part right, all these reasons can be chalked up to a single failure: a poor or nonexistent ‘on-boarding’ programme.

Time spent planning and delivering an on-boarding process is never wasted time. A strong on-boarding programme:

  • Lowers turnover
  • Improves employee morale and motivation
  • Reduces recruitment costs
  • Lowers ongoing training costs
  • Makes understanding the job, the team and culture easier for the new employee
  • Reduces anxiety for the new employee
  • Increases productivity


Often it simply comes down to time.  Arguably, if you’re inducting a new employee, you can’t perform your normal role of running your department or your business, which results in a temporary reduction in productivity.  But committing a few days to ensure that the new employee is welcomed in to their new team and shown the ropes is vital to their success – and ultimately the success of your business. 

Time spent at the outset will save you time and money down the line.


Usually, it’s best that the business owner or department manager conducts the bulk of the on-boarding. You know the business already, and you can give greater insight into the culture. 

But if you a have high volume of new recruits or you just don’t enjoy training, you could develop a programme with your HR team, or an external HR consultancy (such as Pod Consulting). They’ll run the programme for you, leaving you to focus on core business.  This way you can ensure that the skills sessions and theory are undertaken in the classroom with experienced trainers, before the new employee does the ‘on the job’ training with you, putting the theory into practice.

It’s also a good idea to get the rest of the team involved. The receptionist could outline the administrative procedures and how to answer the phone; the new employee could observe one of their peers ‘on the job’; and the business owner or manager should give an overview of the strategic direction of the business and explain how the employee’s role adds value to the business objectives.  One proviso: Make sure you’re only involving competent, high performing employees with a great attitude.


Remember to focus on what’s really important in the early days and set a timetable.  It will take a while for your new employee to full assimilate all the new information that they are being introduced to in their first days with a new business.

Once the on-boarding programme has been completed, the training goes on…and on…and on.

It’s your job as business owner or manager to schedule in regular times to check that the new employee is settling in and getting to grips with their new role.  It’s during weekly catch ups that you informally discuss how the employee is getting on, what work they’re doing and any concerns either of you have. 

After the first three months, you need to commit to scheduled monthly catch-ups. During these, you should review the job description and highlight the areas that the employee has mastered (green), the areas that they are gaining an understanding of (amber) and the areas where they are not performing well (red).  This traffic light system gives you early warning signals to potential performance issues and/or to alert you to where additional training is needed. It’s a great system, but it relies on a strong on-boarding process to lay the foundations of knowledge and expectations.

Recruiting and hiring is one of your biggest and most important business spends. Don’t squander your investment by leaving your new employee’s success up to chance.

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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