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On Boarding

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.

Via Business 2 Community : Why Google’s Onboarding Process Works 25% Better Than Everyone Else’s

Even tech giants have humble beginnings.

In the halcyon days when Google was making the transition from a bedroom to a rented garage in Menlo Park, it won’t surprise you to learn they didn’t have a tight onboarding process in place.

For years Google ran on a single, sprawling spreadsheet including a ranked list of the company’s top 100 projects. The projects were confusingly graded on a scale between “far out” and “skunkworks”, and the founders handled the process with a ‘who cares’ attitude.

Since that point, everyone knows Google has made leaps not only in the Internet space but also in the workplace. The company is the #3 world’s most valuable brand and the #3 best employer in America. Its made extremely effective tweaks to its hiring process over the years, but what isn’t reported as often is its approach to new employee onboarding — the process of getting a new hire equipped with everything they need to integrate into the company culture, work effectively and succeed.

The wackier aspects of Google’s orientation process are widely known. We’ve heard about the Noogler beanies with motorized propellers, and the Mountain View all-Noogler TGIF meetings where the founders “just come in and make some dad jokes”. The inner workings of the process, however — the parts that make it so notoriously effective — aren’t as obvious.

In this article, I’m going to run through the nuts and bolts of Google’s ‘just in time’ employee onboarding process, and some of the supporting events that happen during.

Google’s ‘just in time’ onboarding checklist

Just one day before a new hire joins, the hire’s manager is sent an email with five small tasks that will need their attention.

The list is pretty simple:

  1. Have a discussion about roles and responsibilities
  2. Match the new hire with a peer buddy
  3. Help the new hire build a social network
  4. Set up employee onboarding check-ins once a month for the new hire’s first six months
  5. Encourage open dialogue

The fact that managers get sent these instructions with only 24 hours to prepare plays on the recency effect — the tendency for people to recall the last thing that happened to them better than things in between.

Put simply, getting that email in front of the manager “just in time” makes it easier to remember. This, in turn, means that they are more likely to execute it correctly.

The email isn’t mass mailed, either. It’s sent only to the manager who needs to see it, making them feel like they’re directly responsible for getting it done. The checklist is no-nonsense and doesn’t include a ton of instructional material, which is instead given to the Noogler with more time on their hands to get familiar with it.

After all, when creating reference materials and checklists (especially if you’re strapped for time), bare-bones is always the way to go.

This small change — creating a sense of urgency and responsibility — has improved onboarding results by 25% at Google.

Why Google’s checklist is laser-focused on company culture

If you look through the five steps of Google’s onboarding checklist, you’ll notice that three of them are focused purely on company culture.

That’s because Google is known to be more than your average organization with bland corporate practices. They believe it’s the “people that make Google the kind of company it is”.

Much like startups, Google is known for turning their noses up at a stuffy work environment. Despite being one of the world’s biggest companies it still acts like it’s a fun-loving founding team from the early days.

Maybe that’s why it ranks so highly as an employer – it has the same attitude towards traditional employment spaces as most of us do to working in them.

Google has learned to prioritize relationships and fun at work because studies have shown happy employees outperform the competition by 20% and are 12% more productive. In fact, Google raised its employee satisfaction by 37% by implementing company culture initiatives.

During the onboarding process, Google supports employee development by educating employees and inducting them into company culture (with both lectures and beers).

Obviously, this won’t work for everyone and it highly depends on the kind of culture your company has. Latham & Watkins LLP (the world’s top-earning law firm) wouldn’t blend quite so well with a more informal or employee-centric company as their clients (and their security) should always come before anything else.

That’s why Google is (almost) unique in this way. Even though the atmosphere and work naturally come with a lot of pressure, it’s the collaborative nature and culture that lets employees at places like Google and Pixar truly thrive.

Hosting a series of intense lectures

While many companies train employees on the job by getting them to dive into the task and learn as they go, Google can spend upwards of two weeks immersing new hires in the culture, and Google-specific theory such as ‘the life of a query’ and ‘the life of an ad’.

This educational approach and fast-response onboarding are necessary because even brand new employees get to work on important projects and key features of the Google architecture.

It’s not that they don’t trust their new employees to work on important projects. It’s more that they give their new employees a crash course in everything they need to know and then give them a chance to prove themselves on something that really matters.

Unlike other onboarding processes, Google’s will put trust in you as part of the open approach to company culture and inclusion. As you might imagine, that shows a level of confidence that will almost certainly rub off on new hires.

You’re not starting from the bottom on menial tasks, which gives you an incentive to stick with it through the hard work and really try your best.

In return, it’s easy to suggest that Google benefits just as much from these new appointments due to that drive to prove themselves capable. After all, it stands to reason that this would demonstrate to the team what the new hire is capable of at this early stage and thus all more effective placement on future projects.

Educating about company culture

When you join Google, you’ve got a lot of mental molding to happen before you can be part of the hallowed ranks. You’re going to need a mix of technical knowledge and company culture education to slot seamlessly into your new role.

Some things don’t change from company to company – the amount of studying you’ll need to do varies depending on your role. It can be anything from none (all optional classes) to two weeks of lectures from senior engineers where they talk about their experience and share their “engineering perspective”.

Kellen Donahue, a former Google software engineer says:

“It seems very overwhelming. There’s so much to learn and read, and at times it seems like when you really understand a concept you realize you just saw the tip of the iceberg”

Of course, there’s more to company culture than lectures and education.

Nooglers are welcomed with a friendly drink after work, but as well as that, the booze flows freely during TGIF meetings. As one engineer pointed out, “if you try hard enough, you can always find alcohol”. Whether or not this negatively affects their work isn’t easy to measure, but you can be sure it helps break the ice and gets new employees feeling comfortable — and that’s mostly what orientation is all about.

Google’s company culture is far from typical, so this kind of instruction from senior employees is great for showing them what a long-term stay might look like. Coupled with the alcoholic icebreaker, you have a potent mix designed to help new hires immediately get stuck into their culture and up to speed with any expectations.

Adopt Google’s onboarding process in your own culture

I won’t sit here and pretend that Google is the perfect template of how to onboard and interact with all employees. It isn’t, and neither are other such standout examples of how companies treat their employees (like Pixar).

However, when discarding the culture the onboarding process itself is absolutely still relevant to almost any company.

The principles behind it cover everything a healthy employer-employee relationship needs:

  • Specifically laying out roles and responsibilities to both parties
  • Giving support to the new hire (a peer buddy) to ease initial friction
  • Introducing the hire to teammates and other contacts to break the ice and start building their network
  • Checking in on them once per month to field questions and smooth out the process without micromanaging
  • Encouraging open dialogue to get useful feedback to improve your own processes

All you have to do now is to take those principles and apply them to your own employee onboarding processes and adapt the whole thing to tie into your company culture.

If you don’t already have a documented onboarding process, check out our free new employee onboarding processes for some ready-to-use templates.

Via Forbes : Second Impressions: The Impact Of Effective Onboarding

You heard it at the start of every school year and probably before interviewing for your first job: You only get one chance to make a first impression. Nobody I know disagrees, and what was true for kids holds true when we become adults — or in my case, when we find ourselves suddenly older and in charge of a business and a family, despite still feeling like a kid inside.

But what about the second impression?

As I started to write about onboarding, I thought about how people miss the boat on how much impact it has. That made me ask: Why? When organizations spend millions of hours, brain cells and dollars on their recruiting efforts, why do they drop the ball on a no-brainer opportunity to keep that positive momentum going?

That’s when I realized the reason: Onboarding is the second impression. Nobody has been repeating for years that the second impression matters as much as the first. Maybe that’s why some organizations give onboarding minimal attention even when the numbers prove how essential it is.

The Impact Is Real

I’ve been a believer in the power of effective onboarding for some time now, but I didn’t realize how truly dramatic its impact was until we retrieved the results of our recently conducted survey on the subject. In surveying 1,024 U.S.-based full-time-employed adults, we learned that over 80% of employees who rated their onboarding experience highly feel strongly committed to their jobs and have higher role clarity than those who had a poor onboarding experience. Employees who felt their onboarding experience was effective were 30 times more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs, compared to those who rated their onboarding as ineffective.

We can’t say for certain that onboarding is the direct cause of these outcomes. The best we can do is to prove there’s a significant link between them. A sampling of outcomes includes higher feelings of engagement, commitment, perceived support, perceived organizational performance — all of which have been shown in other research to boost bottom-line performance. Even if these outcomes are not the direct result of effective onboarding alone, they show that effective onboarding is a strategic initiative shared by successful companies. In other words, they’re doing something right and onboarding is clearly part of it.

The Relationship Theory

My theory about how onboarding creates that lift goes something like this: If you want to get the most out of any relationship, you not only have to start out on the right foot, you also have to keep the effort up. You’ll make mistakes — everyone does, in business and in our personal lives — but it’s not perfection that matters, it’s the effort and honesty that stands out to people and creates the bond. And the stronger the positive bond — whether it’s between an employer and employee or between friends or family members — the more likely it is you can achieve great things together.

In business, keeping that effort up means showing new employees you care about more than finding them and signing them on. You have to show you care about how well they’ll perform at their new jobs, that they have a clear vision of their role in your organization and that they know what you expect from them.

These are just a few ways you can show you’re more than simply an employer from the very first day of employment. Your efforts to seek and provide understanding show you value the time and effort people are spending on your behalf and that you’re ready and willing to support them in return.

The Onboarding Opportunity

Onboarding is the best time to establish all the above. From compliance forms and policy training to culture and team introductions, onboarding is an all-you-can-eat buffet of opportunities to show and prove the care your organization has for its people.

Some of it is simply looking at your process and paying attention to the details. For example, can you make any of the tedious things like paperwork take less time? If so, you’ll have more time to engage with new people in person or bring training for essential policies up to date with memorable programs or a funny video.

Other parts have to come from deeper within the organization: benefits education is critical, but offering good benefits in the first place is a much bigger decision about how you treat employees; culture training can be engaging, but it relies on an established culture. What these examples really prove is that onboarding is critical, but it isn’t the most critical part. The philosophy of caring is a cultural keystone, and everything else — onboarding, benefits, training, even improving your processes — grows from there. It’s been said a thousand times that culture is crucial, and this is further proof that making culture the priority (not a priority) is the first step.

Everything Matters

All of it works. The numbers prove it on paper, but forget about the numbers — talk to people about their experience, and you’ll understand that it all matters. The effort you put in during onboarding reinforces an employee’s decision to sign on, and the positive outcomes pay off for the organization on the first day and every day after.

Metaphorically speaking, effective onboarding is a promise. It makes you, the employer, accountable for the things you preach and teach, while new employees gain a greater understanding of the promise they’re making to you by becoming part of your organization. If employer and employee can keep that promise to each other, the payoff is a strong positive bond that can influence outcomes far into the future. You may never get a second chance to make that first impression, but onboarding gives your organization an opportunity to make the best out of every new employee’s experience — an impression that matters just as much.

Via Gallup : Why the Onboarding Experience Is Key for Retention

“Rock Stars Wanted” might not be the job-posting headline, but it’s the underlining message companies communicate during the recruiting process.

Most companies want the best talent, and they do not shy away from making that perfectly clear. Slackers need not apply.

So they woo candidates with promises of unique cultures, perks and opportunities during the recruitment phase. And the company’s employee value proposition (EVP) becomes a distraction meant to lure top talent and set the stage for what’s to come if you’re one of the fortunate few — one of a kind — who receives the coveted offer letter.

A company’s EVP sets the stage and expectations for the rest of the new hire’s employee experience.

Unfortunately, many organizations fail to deliver on the promises they make during recruitment, resulting in a poor onboarding experience and a setback to the connection they initially established with the new star.

Gallup finds that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees. This failure gets in the way of the formation of an emotional bond between the new hire and the company — a connection that can make or break retention.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee turnover can be as much as 50% in the first 18 months of employment. Employees leaving the workforce can be expensive and put pressure on highly burdened resources as well as a company’s financial bottom line.

SHRM estimates that it will cost a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to identify and onboard a replacement. Others in the field believe the cost to be much higher.

How to Avoid New Hire Turnover and Disengagement by Understanding the Journey

The decision to join a new organization is often accompanied by leaving another, and new hires are placing bets that their new role will be better than the last, fulfilling a need the previous employer was not. It is a decision that starts with rational considerations but is ultimately decided based on emotions.

Applying for a new job is a decision that people make after asking for opinions from friends, family and colleagues. It’s a choice they make after searching online for ratings and reviews from current and past employees, and after listening to the company’s promises during recruitment.

After making this decision, all future interactions people have with their new employer shape their perceptions of what it is like to be on the “inside” — to be an integral member of the organization.

From an employee perspective, onboarding involves a series of firsts: first day on the job, first time meeting a manager and coworkers, first work projects and tasks, and first opportunities to share their talents with the organization.

Eager about their new role, enthusiastic about how they will contribute and anxious about how their colleagues will receive them, new hires head off to their new position with visions of what it will be like when they arrive.

This anticipation is accompanied by high levels of adrenaline as the excitement — and nervousness — builds for that first day, week and month.

With all of this in mind, companies should make sure new hires feel welcomed and immediately appreciated, quickly developing a sense of purpose and belonging.

From an employer perspective, onboarding is the best time to deliver on the EVP and other promises made during the job-seeking and candidacy stages.

Rock Star Employees Wanted but Not Truly Welcomed

The transition from candidate to employee should feel like a natural handoff that continues the momentum and fuels the excitement for the new job.

Deviating from the energy generated during the hiring phase to treating the phase of onboarding as a one-day — or one-week — event, or as an administrative process focused on paperwork, orientation manuals and supply cabinet shopping, puts an early strain on the employee-employer relationship.

Throwing new hires into work immediately without training or context, not socializing — or even introducing — them to the rest of the team, focusing on tactical work too early, or not meeting and receiving feedback from managers early and often are more the norm than the exception.

But this isn’t how it should be. Companies should treat onboarding with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm equal to or greater than that of the new hire’s. The time leading up to and extending beyond the first day on the job is all part of onboarding.

Don’t lose the momentum you’ve gained during attraction and recruitment by failing to deliver during the onboarding process. Welcome new hires like they are the rock stars you diligently selected.

If you don’t welcome new employees like rock stars, the experiential disappointment could start them off on an emotionally slippery slope, leading to low engagement and seeking out a new opportunity.