There’s a lot to learn in the first few days on a new job. Onboarding has been shown to increase the likelihood that employees will stay with a company long enough to become effective – but many become overwhelmed, with little return.
BambooHR, a workforce management software firm, conducted a survey of 1,005 American employees over the age of 24 to uncover why nearly 31% quit jobs in the first 6 months. What most respondents said would make a difference would be on-the-job training conducted in the first few weeks, to prepare them for the challenges ahead.
Why structured onboarding is critical
Onboarding matters. And its long-lasting effects can be highly beneficial to both employees and the company. In general, onboarding has been shown to increase retention, ramp up new hires quicker, improve the sense of loyalty in new hires, reduce stress in a new role, and produce higher job satisfaction.
Designing learning-based onboarding
The millennial generation is known for being voracious learners, having grown up with information at their fingertips. Employers must find ways to improve onboarding programs by making learning the foundation of all onboarding efforts. A well-designed onboarding process can include stepped learning that slowly introduces new concepts, tasks, and procedures to employees, while honoring their individual learning styles.
An onboarding program designed around learning can look like this:
- Orientation happens before the employee officially starts – with a welcome packet sent to the new hire that includes a personalized letter from members of management, more detailed information about the company and benefits, and a schedule for the first day’s orientation. In many cases, a video can be sent to share much of this information in an interactive way.
- First day on the new job – this is where learning counts the most. All employees like a building tour, to meet their new colleagues and have a solid introduction to the environment in which they will be working. Make it a positive experience, keep new information brief, and spend more time answering questions than quizzing new hires on what you have thrown at them.
- The first 6 weeks on the job – managers must be trained on how to onboard new hires. Partnering with a mentor on the team helps to transfer knowledge, but there should also be time to learn new concepts and skills through classroom, hands-on, and video training methods. Learning management platforms can deliver this information and allow employees to learn at their own pace, around other work responsibilities.
Everyone learns at their own pace
Be patient with new hires. According to most experts, like Christina Marino, CRO of Click Boarding LLC., an employee onboarding software firm, it takes between “8-12 months for new hires to be as proficient as their tenured colleagues.” Keep in mind that much of the learning that takes place during onboarding happens organically, as new hires face challenges and overcome problems on the job, work with clients, and connect with peers.
As your company prepares to improve the current onboarding process, remember that the learning needs of each generation can dictate their comfort with how information is introduced. For example, millennials and generation X may be better able to digest information in micro snippets – like videos and interactive lessons. Older workers may prefer content delivered in a written or visual format, with plenty of time to go over questions and work through problems in a live classroom setting. Use a blend of all of the above training methods when designing your employee onboarding programs for the best results.