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Handy tips for sustainable onboarding

September 15, 2016
Borderless Leadership

The first impression an employee has about an organization is crucial. Employees make up their minds to stay or quit working for an organization within their first year with the company, according to a report from the Aberdeen Group.

Furthermore, research from The Wynhurst Group shows that about 4 percent of employees quit on their first day at work. It is not surprising that employee onboarding is being viewed more seriously than ever before.

Organizations can use onboarding to make new employees feel welcome, and to get them excited and inspired about their roles and how those roles align with the larger organizational business goals. Onboarding helps new employees adapt to the new culture, learn their roles and responsibilities, and start delivering quickly. This increased engagement should lower rates of employee turnover within the first year of employment.

To be effective, however, an onboarding program has to be sustainable, scalable, cost effective, and easily deployable. How can this be achieved? Here are some tips.

Create a Technological Platform for Onboarding
Face-to-face interaction is essential and irreplaceable. When new employees join the organization, they should be taken around the workplace and introduced to their peers and the key people they will be working with. You may also plan lectures and face-to-face meetings for new hires. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to address all organizational issues during these in-person activities.

Use a technological platform or an onboarding portal to fill in those gaps and address the needs of new hires. This will become the go-to place for new hires to find any information they may need, interact with peers or mentors, and look for resources and job-aids. It can also be used to complete HR forms and other related paperwork. All the tasks related to employee onboarding can be assigned, controlled, and monitored through the platform.

Engage With New Hires Right After an Offer Has Been Accepted
Start engaging with new employees once your offer has been accepted, instead of waiting for their first day in the office. Give them restricted access to the new-hire portal and encourage them to explore it. Share documents and reading material that will help them get to know the organization and its culture. This can be followed up with a fun quiz that tests new employees on how much they have learned about the organization. If you can, include welcome videos from the CEO or key personnel. The new employees’ future colleagues could also use the portal to send welcome messages.

Make the First Day Interesting and Exciting
Small gestures such as having their workspace ready with a computer, phone, calling cards, email address already set up go a long way in winning over new employees. A planned itinerary for the first day of work shows employees that you value them. While paperwork, policies, and procedures are essential, they can either be completed before their first day or saved for later. A person’s first day should be focused on personal interactions and becoming familiar with their workspace, peers, and role. Instead of subjecting new hires to long lectures, set up one-on-one meetings with their immediate managers. Use these meetings to share job responsibilities and expectations, and perhaps give them a challenging or interesting task. If many new hires are starting at the same time, plan team activities or interactive workshops aimed at enhancing interpersonal communication and organizational understanding.

Use Engaging Videos and Interactive E-Learning Modules
Compliance training, data security training, organizational rules, regulations, and benefits are some of the essential topics new employees have to be trained on when they join an organization. They may also require job-related training. Face-to-face training sessions may not be sustainable if there are large numbers of new hires or the hiring process is ongoing.

In such situations, you can convert the content into e-learning modules, which new employees can complete. Use assessments, quizzes, or specific assignments to complement the online training and monitor understanding and progress. Incentives—such as badges, certifications, or rewards—can motivate employees to move to the next level.

Think Long Term
Effective onboarding leads to better employee engagement and higher productivity. An onboarding program should last a minimum of three months and can continue for a year. According to Kevin Sheridan, author of Building a Magnetic Culture, there are 10 drivers for early engagement by new hires. They are:

  • recognition
  • career development
  • direct supervisor or manager leadership abilities
  • strategy and mission
  • job content
  • senior management’s relationship with employees
  • ·open and effective communication
  • co-worker satisfaction and cooperation (the unsung hero of retention)
  • availability of resources to perform the job effectively
  • ·organizational culture (such as diversity awareness and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, and work/life balance).

A well-planned onboarding program can ensure that these drivers are taken care of. Using the technological platform, the new hire can have a clear goal to achieve in the next few months. Courses at different levels, involvement of the direct supervisor or manager, encouragement from senior management, resources to enhance knowledge, and peer-to-peer interaction through social media tools embedded in the technological platform are some of the most cost-effective ways to achieve these goals.

Planned onboarding programs are essential to create a positive first impression, provide direction, and retain new employees. Technology can be used to make the program sustainable and cost-effective. Once the systems are in place, it becomes easier to onboard new employees when they join the organization.

By RK Prasad

Source: ATD

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