Good managers understand that onboarding--the process of integrating a new employee into an organization--is truly relational and human in nature. And onboarding, we are finding, needs a drastic makeover.

BambooHR, a leading HR software provider for small and medium-size businesses, recently completed a study about onboarding and new-hire orientations. They surveyed more than 1,000 people and asked what was most important to them when they started new jobs.

Orientation meetings, printed materials, videos, and computer-based training have been the norm, but new research shows that these methods of onboarding are failing. New hires are leaving companies within their first six months at an alarming rate.

Here's the breakdown of when people leave:

  • 1st Week: 16.45%
  • 1st Month: 17.42%
  • 2nd Month: 16.77%
  • 3rd Month: 17.42%
  • 4th Month: 10.97%
  • 5th Month: 5.48%
  • 6th Month: 14.48%

Why People Quit Within the First Six Months

These high percentages invite the question, "Why are people leaving so quickly?" According to the BambooHR report, some reasons include the feeling that new employees have that they are neglected, overwhelmed, under-appreciated, and underqualified.

Other significant responses to this question include:

  • "Changed mind on work-type"
  • "Different work than expected"
  • "Not enough training"
  • "Not fun"
  • "Boss was a jerk"

For context, most people who leave their jobs early were either in entry-level (43 percent) or intermediate level (38 percent) positions.

What New Hires Really Want in the First Week

It's helpful to know what employees really want their first week on the job. Significantly, new hires want their own managers, not HR, to take charge of the onboarding process.

The following four other requests also top the new hire's wishlist:

1. On-the-job training

2. Review of company policies

3. Company tour, equipment setup, and procedures

4. Having a mentor

Do you know what request barely even made the list at 1 percent made? Free food.

What Employee Onboarding Process Changes Need to Be Made

Knowing what we now know, we can better understand and follow the experts' advice and make the needed changes.

As part of the BambooHR study, HR professionals also chimed in with their views. They believe these areas of the on-boarding process need to be updated:

  • Employee Handbook The content must be relevant, well-timed, clear, and organized.
  • On-the-Job Training This training should be thorough, extend beyond the first week, and include a 30-day review of orientation.
  • Mentor Program Getting more attention and recognition is key. Offering a friendly environment and more complete socialization of employees is also important.

As already noted--and I will stress it again--it's important for managers to realize that it's not the job of their HR team to design and deliver a robust onboarding program, but every manager's role to engage from day one. Gallup finds that when managers take an active role in onboarding, "employees are 3.4 times as likely to strongly agree their onboarding experience was exceptional."