Via Human Resources Director : 4 ways onboarding processes must change
There’s a misconception that an intensive onboarding experience requires a high administrative burden.
Onboarding is the ideal time to introduce new employees to company culture, but improving the outcome requires a shift, according to Jen Jackson, CEO of Everyday Massive, and co-author of How to Speak Human.
The transformation is towards treating onboarding as an experience, rather than an onslaught of technical information.
The process of starting a new job can be incredibly daunting and onboarding plays a crucial role.
It is not only important in providing people with the technical information needed to get up to speed quickly, but building the crucial connections that set them up for the length of their career.
“It’s a psychological process — as much emotional as it is rational. And just like any other aspect of work or life, onboarding is experiential,” said Jackson.
“Onboarding doesn’t begin when a new hire signs the contract and ends when they walk our of the induction room on day one.
“It’s an experience that starts the moment they hear about an opportunity and continues throughout their first year.”
Jackson added that fortnight — even a month — isn’t nearly enough time to grasp the complexities of a new company; understanding individual roles and how they fit into the bigger picture.
“And by neglecting to actively facilitate this process, people are left feeling confused and lost, discouraged and disconnected. None of which builds a better culture.”
According to Jackson, better onboarding experiences require a shift in focus in the following four areas:
Logical to emotional
Above all, onboarding should consider people’s emotions at every stage of the process. This allows organisations to manage emotions and expectations, and meet people’s needs by delivering the right content through the right channels at the right time.
For example, the weeks leading up to starting a new job are an opportunity to amplify excitement, mitigate anxiety and uncertainty, and manage expectations. What do people need to know before their first day at work to ensure it goes smoothly? It can seem obvious until it’s mapped out in detail, revealing small friction points that can have a significant emotional impact.
An experiential approach to onboarding goes beyond delivering the bare minimum to do the job, to considering how people experience their first week, month and year.
Process to people
Beyond the essential information needed to do the job, onboarding is an opportunity to build connection with peers, leaders, work and the organisation.
Weaving in cultural elements — the vision, mission, values, norms, behaviours and rituals — in the early stages, takes onboarding beyond improving how individuals work, to strengthening the way in which people work together towards a common purpose.
Highly administrative to highly automated
There’s a misconception that an intensive onboarding experience requires a high administrative burden. However, we’re well beyond the days of manually sending forms and contracts, organising police and medical checks, entering data and ordering equipment.
Many platforms allow tasks to be automated, ensuring a consistent experience without placing pressure on particular people or functions. This doesn’t mean removing the human element from onboarding. Quite the opposite, by taking care of the mundane but necessary touchpoints, there’s more time to focus on the meaningful interactions.
Automation could involve triggering reminders for busy managers to have important face to face conversations at regular intervals. It could be a welcome video from a manager sent the week before starting work.
These are small moments that make a big difference, but can easily be forgotten amidst the day-to-day.
Incongruent to congruent
As the first experience people have with the organisation, onboarding plays a crucial role in delivering on the promises of the employer brand, and should feel coherent with the overall employee experience.
To provide a consistent experience, end-to-end across various touchpoints, requires collaboration between various functions, including People and Culture, Safety, Finance, and Legal, as well as external vendors. Every touchpoint should feel like part of the same experience, rather than haphazard communication from different sources.
The real challenge for global businesses is delivering an onboarding experience that’s coherent with the organisation, but also considers region- and site-specific factors.
These include cultural context and regional demographics, down to operational nuances between different sites and facilities. This level of detail maintains consistency, while also ensuring relevance.
By approaching onboarding from an experience-led perspective, considering emotions, people, automation and congruence, leaders can build better onboarding experiences, and better cultures as a result.
Via Lab Manager : Onboarding: A Valuable Investment
Retaining new talent long term begins with interactive training.
Hiring competent personnel is the first step to successfully filling positions in a laboratory. The next measure to ensure that person’s expertise can be fully utilized and integrated into the existing environment involves providing an onboarding experience that gets new hires up to speed efficiently. Setting up rigorous, interesting, and ongoing onboarding programs can lead to higher retention of quality employees, and thus, fewer turnovers for a lab or organization.
Watson Clinic LLP, an outpatient clinic with nine laboratories in Florida, is an example of such a program. With approximately 100 employees, the multi-specialty, high complexity labs experience a turnover of between just five and 10 employees each year. Director of laboratory services Michelle Preston attributes this partially to their initial and ongoing onboarding programs, which ultimately financially benefit the company.
With less turnover, “you don’t have the employees leaving, so you’re not having to spend more time in the hiring and training process, because that’s a lot of downtime for people and a lot of extra work,” she says. “So it’s always going to be a positive on the financial side because you’re keeping the employee and reaping the rewards of having them stay.”
Onboarding for success
Watson Clinic’s success lies in a customized program for recent hires, based on their level of expertise. New employees are paired with experienced staff members and work side-by-side until they are comfortable with the laid out responsibilities. Seasoned techs will inevitably move through the program much faster than say technologists right out of school who will need more time and opportunities to gain confidence and grow. “Something else we have also implemented that we find helps quite a bit is a 30-, 60-, 90- day review,” Preston says. At the end of each of those designated time periods, a new hire’s supervisor sits down with the employee and goes over how they’re doing and what areas they need to improve upon.
Such an approach ensures the lines of communication are open between staff and management. If either party has concerns, they can use the opportunity to convey them. Further, if management feels the new employee is not picking up the skills they need fast enough, they could opt to switch that employee’s trainer. Because sometimes, all it takes is another person explaining the same procedures in a different manner or on a level that makes more sense.
“We are really trying to work with that new employee to give them as many of the tools as we can,” Preston says. “There have even been times where we have hired for a specific location and as we’re doing the training, we realize it may not be as good a fit as we thought. So if we have open positions in other locations, we’ll go ahead and move that employee to another location and that has worked very well for us.” This ensures the new employee is placed in a location where they are a good fit with their co-workers and surroundings.
At Draper Laboratory, a non-profit research and development and engineering innovation organization in Massachusetts, the human resources team manages recent hire orientation and takes new employees on an interactive tour of the organization. Each lab, however, may have its own additional training, as many disciplines exist within the organization. For example, at the Model Based Engineering Lab, system group leader and lab manager Fei Sun, who runs a 30-person work team, approaches onboarding of new employees similar to Preston. To Sun, it’s pertinent to supplement the general, group onboarding with resources that fit individual employees, especially because everyone’s learning process is different. “We created a buddy program in which newcomers are paired with a current employee based on their mutual interests,” Sun says. “They might both be interested in system engineering or a sector like aerospace.” After a month, she explains, the buddies switch with someone else in the group, giving more people an opportunity to get to know each other.
“When I designed the buddy system I was thinking about technical orientation, but over time I found some pairs talked about daycare or health benefits as well, which is an important form of information-sharing,” she adds. Further, because there are many disciplines and core competencies under one roof at Draper, it helps recent additions to learn about the other areas of the organization.
“A new employee hired into the software directorate will be introduced to our machine shop, additive manufacturing area, Biomedical Solutions Lab, Microfab, or electronic system assembly facility,” says Justin Medernach, group leader, System Assembly at Draper. “The tours are specifically tailored to provide new hires with exposure to other functional areas.”
A solid onboarding program is more than just getting a new employee to perform a specific set of duties; it’s also a chance to have them become an integrated part of a team with an overarching goal. Working to help new employees understand that goal and know they are part of a valuable mission allows them to better perform and contribute to the overall mission. Effective onboarding also communicates the history and pedigree of the organization, a sell that could have lasting effects on a recent hire.
“When I was new here, it was almost surreal to see artifacts of the Apollo Program’s fault-tolerant flight computers,” Medernach says. “It doesn’t take long for an individual to realize that they can be a part of something special.”
Further, onboarding is a chance for a company to provide in a new hire a sense of confidence in their choice of employer—that the employer has a strong mission and is organized and thoughtful.
“If employees are confident in their employer’s operation, they are far more likely to stay,” Medernach says. “Good employees are always sought by other organizations. As a management team, it’s our responsibility to project competence and keep that talent here.”
Proper communication of policy and procedure changes and the demonstration of the effectiveness of those changes is also a means of portraying organizational competence. “This has an impact on retention and, in turn, bolsters the organization’s financial position,” Medernach adds.
Involving new employees is also important: managers can do this by giving new hires a chance to contribute and connect with the group and provide them with opportunities to make contributions. “Why not ask them to suggest book titles for the resource library?” Sun suggests. “Employees are more likely to stay if they contribute.”
An engaging experience
Despite the excitement of joining a new team, employees often find the onboarding process dry or boring. In effect, those in management positions are always looking for ways to make training more agreeable. One way to do this is by speeding up the process.
“With a seasoned tech or a seasoned lab assistant, we have found the faster we can work with them and get them going and on their scheduled shift works best,” Preston says. “That way they’re not getting quite as bored.”
With new employees right out of school, streamlining the process can be a bit more difficult, however. For those hires, Preston finds it helpful to involve them in the work. For example, if an issue does come up, ask how they would handle it. This kind of interaction creates bonds with mentors and keeps them involved in the process as opposed to being just an observer.
Another way to make onboarding more interesting is by having more interactive training sessions. “Read and sign methodologies are simply ineffective when it comes to grabbing an individual’s attention and promoting retention of information,” says Medernach, who’s an advocate of online training modules. “Interactive training videos with embedded quizzes grab the individual’s attention and require thoughtful consideration.”
Additionally, managers who lead tours can ask new hires to talk about themselves—their backgrounds and interests—and to allow them to see aspects and capabilities of the company they are working for that may not be directly related to their job.
“When I give a tour, my primary goal is to get the new hires excited about life at Draper,” Medernach says. “To let them know that we’re special and we can provide a service to the American people, and the world, that makes a difference. We try to get them interested in areas that may not be a focus of their normal job functions but are a core competency at Draper. Who doesn’t like to watch robots in action or see how things we use every day are made?”
Lastly, it’s important for those in management positions to appreciate that onboarding is an ongoing endeavor through which both recent and senior employees are continually growing. Part of this means that not only should recent hires be learning the ropes, they could also provide perspectives that the senior staff could take advantage of.
“New employees, even employees just out of college, can bring a fresh perspective,” Sun says. “Recently, Draper was consulting with an automaker to provide an architectural review. Senior members of our team worked closely with junior members trained in the latest visual display software, giving the group a new understanding and perspective of the automaker’s systems.”
As organizations extend their reach into new areas of technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are seeing the same information sharing and cross-training between newcomers and existing employees, Sun adds.
Via HR Morning : Onboarding in 2019: What a Knock-Out First Day Should Look Like
The first days and weeks when new employees come to work are a make-or-break time for their success with you.
A positive welcoming experience puts them at ease and reinforces that joining your company was a good choice. That breeds loyalty – a key component of a stronger workforce, and an essential characteristic of what keeps organizations going strong.
Thankfully, loyalty is contagious. On the other hand, just a few crucial early missteps can leave newcomers second-guessing everything.
What successful onboarding looks like in 2019
Today’s best onboarding efforts:
- Establish a strong employer welcome.
- Re-affirm the employee made the right job choice.
- Let the employee see how she or he fits in with the organization.
- Set the stage for long-term relationship building, which in turn improves retention. That’s why onboarding is often called the last stage of the recruitment process – and the first step to retention.
Depending on the position and how long it takes to find a qualified candidate, companies can easily expect the cost of turnover to be 150% of the departing employee’s annual salary. That doesn’t include non-tangibles, like the impact on morale.
With that kind of value on the line, the incentives for keeping them makes onboarding even that much more of a worthwhile effort.
Before Day 1
After a candidate accepts your offer, send a written communication welcoming them aboard. Let them know what to expect on their first day and what their first few days will be like.
Be sure they know the simple stuff, like
- Where to park
- How to get in the door
- How to get OUT in an emergency
- Who will be mentoring them
- A schedule of what the day will be
- How their first-day lunch will be handled, and
- Who to see if they have questions.
Make a checklist
It’s a good idea to make a checklist. Include all the things you’ll be discussing with them, need them to sign and want them to do. Include a list of names and titles of the people they might be meeting with.
It helps to have a recently hired employee look over the list to see if there’s anything missing, since it’ll be most fresh in the mind of someone who’s just been through it.
The first day
The first day for new hires should be a highly energized and positive experience. You’ve already picked them! What was it about this person that made you say yes? Think back to the things that stood out and try to highlight some of those things on the first day. Then send out a welcoming email to staff, announcing the new hire;s arrival, with a brief professional bio and maybe a personal note, such as a hobby or interest.
Take a tour
The typical next step for welcoming an employee on board is the building tour. “Here’s the printer, here’s the bathroom,” etc.
OK, that’s good information to have. But is it really going to stick out in an employee’s mind? A better bet is to give them the “insider’s tour.”
- Which areas of the building have spotty Wi-Fi coverage?
- Where can they grab a coffee mug if they forgot theirs at home?
- What’s a quiet place to get some work done if office conversations get a little too loud?
- Which fridge should they put their lunches in?
- What do they do if they lose their security card or key?
You’re not just showing them the way, you’re showing them how things get done.
Introduction to the workplace
Introductions should be inclusive, but not overbearing.
Try this: Don’t introduce people based on their title. Introduce them based on their working relationship with the employee.
For instance, instead of, “Meet Bill. He’s our payroll clerk,” say, “Meet Bill. He’ll collect your time sheet every week and he’s the person to see if you have any questions about your paycheck.”
There are plenty of documents and papers employees will need to do their jobs.
Again, making sure everything is already organized for an employee is key. Place all the crucial documents in a digital or paper folder, so they have them all in the same place.
Be sure your mission statement is right up front. “We’re a company that respects all our employees – from new hires to established veterans – and are really looking forward to having you contribute in a meaningful way! Welcome!”
- A facility map. Try to include the names and phone extensions of other employees on the map where they work.
- Phone extension/email list. If you can prioritize this list by listing the employee’s department first, so much the better. That way, they don’t have to hunt for the name they need (or worry about forgetting which “Jim” mans the help desk and which one is the CFO!).
- Daily schedules. You should have the employee’s first day (or first few days) planned for him or her. Include the schedule so they know what’s coming next.
- Long-term schedules. When can they start taking vacation or enrolling in the company’s 401(k)? When will their first formal/informal review be? When can new workers start accumulating sick days? Having these key milestones on a timeline helps employees see what’s next for them and gets them thinking about their long-term future with the company.
- HR documents. Employees will need to receive policies and procedures, benefits enrollment forms, etc. Include these in the folder but be sure to have someone from HR go over them with the new hire in-person as well – in case there are questions.
In addition to these standard items, try including some of the following sections as well:
- “What I learned … ” Collect anecdotes from employees on the most important thing they picked up in their jobs. What was the moment that made them say “A-ha!”? It doesn’t have to be anything ground-breaking, just a musing on what people have learned about the workplace along the way. Include a list of one-sentence-or-so anecdotes to make new employees feel welcome (and maybe chuckle a little.)
- Success stories. Chances are someone in your company has recently come up with a new way of doing things that’s really saved time or reduced frustration. Or maybe they’ve achieved a milestone (1,000th sale, 35 years with the company, etc.). Maybe they’ve even had a personal accomplishment such as running a race or organizing a charity fundraiser.
When you hear stories like these, share them. Write a short paragraph about it, then include it in a “News & Notes” or “Success Stories” section of the onboarding material. This way, new employees will feel as if they’re getting to know their co-workers right off the bat.
- The “Lingo Board.” Managers and supervisors will often find themselves casually dropping an acronym or industry-specific term with a new hire and being greeted with a slack jaw or confused stare.
Each workplace has its own set of terms and lingo that is specific to the company. It’s not a bad thing, these shortcuts are real time-savers when people know their meanings. But until workers are up to speed on the office language, provide a list of terms and definitions. Put it in plain English so they can see what they should be looking for when you ask for “a DBC report.”
Of course, all the documents in this packet should be available on the company intranet as well. But having a one-stop resource for employees on- hand will be a good way to keep them in the loop from the very start.
Being a good closer
At the end of the employee’s first day, be sure to close it out strong. Schedule a one-on-one to review what they did and whom they spoke with.
This shouldn’t be an in-depth meeting: Just take 10 to 15 minutes to see if they have questions and to touch on and reaffirm what they’ve learned. Keep it light and reassure them with any positive comments you may have gathered from people the new employee interacted with.
Then, send them home.
It’s like not much “work” was accomplished, and that’s OK. First days are for first impressions. The time for time real work lies ahead.
For now, leave them feeling good about their experiences and inspired for tomorrow.
Via ATD : We Personalize Everything—Why Not Onboarding?
We once believed that training and onboarding would be more efficient because we could design and deliver the same experience for everyone. There was time when we talked about efficiency of scale or used the dreaded word, standardization. Build it once and deliver the same thing a thousand times, week after week. Good onboarding for everyone, everywhere.
But we don’t live in that type of world any longer.
The world has changed, and companies are taking advantage of the opportunity to build and sell unique experiences. Established brands like Vans are migrating to mass customization by building digital tools that allow you to customize your own shoes. Coca-Cola now offers personalized bottles through their “Share a Coke” campaign and custom drinks dispensed through a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine. Consumers are choosing personalization and customization.
Data from Forrester indicates that 77 percent of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized experience.
So why do we accept one-size-fits-all with our onboarding?
Organizations need to consider building personalized onboarding and learning programs to improve efficiency and increase proficiency.
Traditional onboarding can be very inefficient because it can waste time and decrease engagement. Let’s take a look at a scenario from healthcare. A nurse, a nurse practitioner, and a healthcare administrator walk into a classroom on their first day on the job. The next part is quite comical: We complete a one-week blended learning experience sharing with each of them the same content and experience.
And yet, the nurse practitioner is a new graduate who just finished an accelerated program; he will be working in the radiology unit. Another new hire is actually an experienced nurse with 35 years of experience in the psychiatric unit. She has excellent knowledge of and experience with de-escalation and Joint Commission standards . . . but when you put her in front of a computer, you might as well have asked her to fly a spaceship. The healthcare administrator was a critical hire, and while she has nursing experience, her main function since leaving a consulting firm specializing in revenue cycle has been working on operational excellence and cash flow for her areas. She has been on the job for four weeks waiting until the next orientation program started. We place all three of these employees in the same room with the exact same training, and then we expect them to be able to perform their unique jobs well.
The diagram below illustrates the ideal state:
As with the diagram, the inputs (new hires) being received will always be varied. Then, there is the box of what happens during onboarding. At the end of it all, we expect the outputs to be standardized with employees ready to perform their job.
To achieve personalized onboarding, initial assessments can be used to better understand an employee’s areas of excellence, areas of potential growth, and areas that need to be developed to ensure job readiness. Identifying individual strengths and learning gaps particularly in nurses in the Med/Surg, ICU, Labor and Delivery, and ER units has shown a cost savings over $5,000 over three sample nurses with varying experience. This cost reduction is primarily from the reduced seat time in onboarding for more experienced nurses. For example, instead of the typical eight-week onboarding, some nurses were able to reduce their onboarding curriculum to five weeks.
Additionally, through the evolution of learning content management systems, content can be segmented into reusable learning segments of 2-8 minutes so that each learner’s digital onboarding experience can be tailored and prioritized. In fact, after the initial assessments, content can be grouped into required, recommended, and optional segments based on the results. Some organizations direct learners to complete both required and recommended segments, while others opt to mandate only the required content.
And let’s not forget about the data: As more new hires complete the initial assessment and potentially a later assessment at the end of onboarding, critical data can be gathered about department strengths and opportunities. This information can further inform additional skills desired in open roles. Another benefit of the growing data set is the ability to benchmark performance on key skills against peers and national samples. Data can also show the efficiency and effectiveness of personalized onboarding.
Onboarding is critical to staff’s future productivity and retention. SHRM found that strong onboarding programs result in 69 percent of employees being more likely to stay with an organization for at least three years.
Via Real Business : Employers are failing to implement effective onboarding processes
A study has revealed that HR teams and new employees hold disparate values about what constitutes effective onboarding.
New research has revealed that whilst many businesses, or at least their HR departments, believe they make efforts to integrate new employees into their teams, the reality is that many fail to do so properly.
This has been backed up by research conducted by Belgian based Vlerick Business School and HR software company, Talmundo. It revealed that 40% of employees felt they did not receive the minimum support requirements when starting a new job.
The Europe-wide study sought to bridge the knowledge gap between increasingly disappointed employees and seemingly unaware HR professionals. Here are the findings.
Onboarding: Great HR lingo but light on implementation
For all the non-HR people out there, onboarding denotes the process whereby an employee is welcomed, or integrated into a new company. Onboarding is top of the HR vocabulary for people working in the sector. However, the study has shown that onboarding is more rooted in language than it is in workplace-based practice.
What do new employees say?
Well, they’re saying plenty of things, but none of them are glowing reports about onboarding experiences. Some 43% said it took a week for them to gain access to a basic workstation and administrative tools.
“The HR professionals who participated in the study were of the opinion that onboarding is incredibly important, and yet 34% of employees have not witnessed such a program at their organization at all.” – Dirk Buyens, Vlerick Business School
Whilst it is widely acknowledged that offices are mighty busy places, it’s essential that HR teams prepare an onboarding plan for the integration of a new employee before they even start.
This should include preparing a welcome-sheet with all their log-in and workstation requirements.
It will cut down on time-wasting fuss when they arrive. Over half of employees asked said their integration period was rushed, and only lasted the first month on the job. This is despite an estimated 48% of HR professionals understanding that the onboarding process should last for at least the first three months of an employee’s working life in a new company.
The gulf is vast, what should we do about it?
Allowing for the gap between well-intended but meaningless HR rhetoric and increasingly dissatisfied new employees to continue will only damage company reputations further, leading to high rates of staff owner, and some rather disparaging remarks on glassdoor.
Whilst it’s understandable that HR professionals, like all other members of workplace teams, are under increasing pressure to multi-task under strict deadlines, they are not doing their jobs properly if HR care is left at the entrance door of employment.
Effective onboarding management requires care, attention and continuous support for the new employee before, and during their first few months of employment.
Failure to do this because of perceived time constraints will only cut down on working productivity further down the line when the new employee has to rely on already busy colleagues for basic administrative information and access to tools.
So, HR teams and hiring managers, listen to the feedback from the people you employed if you want higher integration, productivity and employment reputation in your place of work.
Hear their stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly.