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The opportunity cost of outdated onboarding

Tips for starting your transformation

I once started a new job and never got a call from my manager until the end of my second week. I worked from home, so I wasn’t surrounded physically by people I could ask for guidance. I’m not even sure how I managed to get into my email. My onboarding experience consisted of the following: unpacking my computer and supplies; sifting through emails with various system logins and trying to make sense of the resources available to me. I received a PowerPoint from HR with a checklist of forms and administrative tasks, put my head down and started digging through any org charts, internal sites or industry research I could get my hands on. I’m naturally curious, and a bit stubborn, so I managed to navigate the organization and eventually thrived. However, I remember meeting colleagues throughout that first year and exclaiming, 'I wish I knew you six months ago!' Looking back, it is amazing I wasn't one of the 20% of new hires that leave within their first 45 days1.

75% of organizations don’t have a dedicated onboarding technology, yet research2 shows that a dedicated onboarding solution is proven to significantly drive employee satisfaction and retention, revenue and the ever-elusive employee engagement (by up to 15% in one year). We bring new people into the organization because they’ve shown the potential to drive organizational success, but then we leave them to their best guess for how to get there.

You’re working harder to get good talent in the door, so why not transform onboarding into a roadmap to success that ensures you keep them? Whether you’re looking to evolve and grow your current onboarding process, or considering a dedicated solution to enable a new approach altogether, here’s what you need to consider: 

  • Move Onboarding Beyond Administrative to Strategic: Filling out forms and ordering equipment isn’t going to speed time-to-performance or engage new employees in company culture. So who decided that’s where onboarding starts? When you hire somebody new, they’re excited for change and opportunity – yet, outdated onboarding processes fail to capitalize on this excitement. Think of onboarding as a connected, continuous and seamless experience for your new hire - capture their enthusiasm before day one by launching a series of micro-learning videos that welcome them to the company mission and values and instantly instills company culture. Introduce peers or mentors and serve up other resources that help them get oriented. While paperwork is necessary, it should be a small part of the roadmap you’re creating for them.
  • Harness the Natural Curiosity of New Employees:  When people start in a new role, they’re eager and curious – they want to adapt, make a good impression and hone their expertise quickly. If you fail to leverage and support this curiosity, you’re at risk of slowing time-to-productivity and missing the opportunity to drive critical employee engagement. The onboarding process often addresses required compliance tasks or basic organizational information, but little else in terms of immediate development. Expand your onboarding process to deliver continuous and immediate opportunities to grow via self-paced learning recommendations, goal setting and skills assessments, manager performance feedback and coaching to encourage speed-to-capability before your new employee needs to ask what’s next. 
  • Extend the Impact of Onboarding Beyond New Employees: Think back to the last time you changed jobs within an organization. Your initial focus was most likely on making a smooth transition and handing off work versus optimizing your performance in your new role. A small percentage of people have the natural ability to manage people, yet we move people into first-time manager roles with little or no guidance. We’re also seeing the dissolution of a traditional corporate ladder in favor of horizontal movement to gain new experiences, but only 27% of companies effectively re-board employees3 after they take on a new role. To get the most out of your investment in new onboarding processes or technology, consider leveraging onboarding to drive performance for employees familiar with the company, but new to a team or role.

Ready to take a closer look at high-impact onboarding practices?  We’ve partnered with one of the industry’s leading research institutes to develop, "Onboarding Outcomes:  Fulfill New Hire Expectations."  Download the complimentary report for an inside look at the state of onboarding across hundreds of organizations, and gain proven onboarding tips – from design to people and culture - from HR and L&D; leaders.

1 Reducing New Employee Turnover Among Emerging Adults, June 2 2016. SHRM.org.
2 BHG 2016 Brandon Hall Group Onboarding Study
3 Onboarding Outcomes: Fulfill New Hire Expectations. Human Capital Institute, 2016.

Filed Under: HR Management