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Employee Onboarding: The missing link in your business strategy

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Make Onboarding process experiential: Understand, accept and integrate the multi-sidedness

The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show your close friends and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.

In essence, your employee onboarding process becomes truly experiential when you integrate the three Japanese faces together—both on the employee side as well as the employer side. Just like that for an individual, the organization has its three faces too; they’ve to deal with investors, clients and internal human resources differently.

Business is characterized by risk taking, and the market is more often than not volatile. A big part of both the equations is transition. Those who master this—whichever way they do it, either by developing outwardly robust strategies, or through the inherent familial traits of integration as cultivated by the Japanese—will eventually laugh their way to the bank.

The catch is, no transition is smooth. You can control the ripple but you can not stop the ripple from happening in the first place. Change is permanent, but every change brings with it a temporary turbulence.

This is where handling a transition is an art. While the journey from school to college was a departure from juvenile adolescence, workplace is a serious transition to professionalism. In case of lateral employees, it’s even more difficult—they don’t even have the luxury of uninformed optimism, they are coming with informed pessimism.

Your employee onboarding process should be as seamless and smooth as possible to handle the transition at both ends. Effective onboarding is the extent to which you are able to integrate a new joinee into your culture.

Is onboarding a myth or it does affect your business numbers?

According to TalentWise,

91% of new hires stick with a company for at least one year if the organization has efficient onboarding processes

69% of those new hires stick with a company for at least three years when it has a well-structured onboarding program

It is essential therefore that you ensure new hires do not leave your company soon. These people will be ones who will drive the company’s overall performance in near future.

source: https://www.bamboohr.com/blog/onboarding-infographic/

In fact, the latest data says companies lose 25% of all new employees within a year. In one out of six cases, the reason employees leave is an ineffective onboarding process and the cost of replacing a good employee can be as high as $65,000!

Numbers don’t lie. Not when they are unanimously accepted across sources.

How companies with better onboarding processes score over those that don’t have a plan in place?

Onboarding and Training go hand in hand

According to a CareerBuilder report, 25% of employees admitted their onboarding process did not include any form of training whatsoever. This could result in a loss of 60% of a company’s entire workforce over four years.

Some lack infrastructure. But there are also organizations that are wary of the rising attrition rates in the market. They feel if they incur a significant amount of time and money on skill development of a new hire and if the same resource leaves the company, it would be a bad deal. More importantly, they are apprehensive of the employees taking those skills to a competitor!

Well, the fears are real. Just that they are misplaced. If you are wary of your employees leaving the company despite the training, you should also be fearful of losing them without it. What will you do with an untrained resource?

That is precisely why you require an inclusive onboarding process in place.

Better Onboarding saves you money

The equation is simple. If you are not doing enough to engage your new hires with an effective onboarding experience in place, you may have to incur up to $65,000 (as we saw above) as the average cost to replace the vacant position! So if you lose them, you have a significant price to pay. Which could just be higher than the actual cost you invest during an onboarding program.

Professional Onboarding helps maximize employee performance

Studies have shown that onboarding programs help increase employee performance by as much as 11%. In terms of numbers, this may not appear attractive to begin with, but at a mass scale and considering the larger picture, this would leave a definitive impact on your final business numbers.

Orientation ≠ onboarding; induction ≠ onboarding

Human beings carry a certain memory of thoughts and behaviors whenever they make a switch in pattern, be it in academics, jobs, or relationships.

Accepting the change is minimizing half the damage. And then you go on to formulate a definitive guide for the role ahead. That’s easier said than done, but the only way it works.

One of the most common misconceptions in job market is that orientation and onboarding mean the same. Orientation is a small part of the larger Onboarding process; the latter goes much beyond than filling out HR paperwork and getting IT to set up your email.

You may get oriented but you may not get integrated. Effective onboarding, a hallmark of select businesses with serious ambitions, integrates the new employees into company’s culture inducing a certain current of mutual understanding and the larger values.

In fact, it’s incorrect to use the words induction and onboarding synonymously. This is one of the key mistakes companies make. They may overlap (or appear to complement at places), but onboarding is different from induction. While induction could just be your way of supplying general information to the new hire, onboarding is essentially, as wikipedia beautifully describes, a way of ‘organizational socialization.’

The bottom line is, every onboarding instance should strengthen your organizational culture instead of diluting it.

Starting off on the right foot – making your onboarding relevant and effective

Whether it’s the experienced hires who are coming to your organization with a legacy past or a newly born fresher (just kid-ding), the first few days are crucial for both parties as two different entities are undergoing a certain change in inherent dynamics. They decide the course of your journey thereafter.

The problem is, half the world is suffering onboarding and not leveraging it!

Recently, LinkedIn surveyed 14,000 professionals all around the world about the types of onboarding techniques they preferred most, and the results were somewhat unexpected.

In their study, Inside the Mind of Today’s Candidate, only 17% of respondents named welcome gifts as “very useful” to their onboarding process. They did not seem to crave for job shadowing (33%) or getting a welcoming shout-out at a staff meeting or department lunch (17%).

Onboarding experience
Source: business.linkedin.com

Interestingly, respondents of all ages, nationalities, and genders unanimously agreed on the below five onboarding practices as most useful:

  • Make sure new employees get one-on-one time with their direct managers
  • Let your new hires know what’s expected of them in the long-term
  • Give employees an agenda for the first few weeks
  • Remember to place a continued emphasis on company culture
  • Help set up individual meetings to introduce new co-workers

Ensure that your hiring managers schedule one-on-one time between new hires and their managers. Because the same report says an overwhelming 72% find these meetings very useful.

What does good onboarding look like?

A lot of questions have different answers at different stages in your life. Your preferences vary with seniority. While someone with 0-2 years of work experience might still fancy a welcome goody, the VP-level employees in the LinkedIn finding—an overwhelming 80% of them—said they rate one-on-one meetings with direct managers extremely useful.

Now comes the more interesting part. One among the most asked business questions on earth: What is in it for me (extend it to ‘how does it help me in the long run’ or ‘show me how can I climb up the ladder’)?

The essence of growth cannot be ruled out. Millennials are smarter, and more informed than ever. Above all, they are ambitious. This is why 67% of survey takers in the report said they wanted a clear roadmap to future. Lack of career development is one of the top reasons people leave jobs.

On the contrary, when organizations let employees know what’s expected of them in the long run, and lay a clear outline, they will be more likely to go above and beyond. This should, by far, be the most important element of your onboarding strategy.

Does that mean you have to rush them in, right from start? Not quite, but a take-off is successful only when the boarding is perfect. What organizations should do is to give the new hires a certain agenda or short-term goal for the initial few weeks.

This helps an employee get a hang of the company culture, explore potential market & clientele, and get a certain hands-on with the associated products.

But it’s not just about the satisfied employees. It has to also be about the higher performing employees. A good onboarding process has to ensure new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviors to become effective. The integration has to work from both ends.

Old school vs New age Onboarding: The shift to digital!

How many of you remember the chairman’s message during your induction presentation from your first job? And the company vision and mission? And the ever so complicated leave and comp-off structures designed against your favor but presented to be in your favor? And the volumes of slides relating to business conduct guidelines?

If you are honest, you remember none of them. Because they were forgettable. At best, you remember that company’s name (or may be your first crush at workplace).

Millennials learn differently. Times have changed. Today, trainees would rather prefer new age learning & engagement approach over traditional induction. The best onboarding processes today are interactive, more so because 70% of what is learnt is forgotten on the first day. Remember millennials are said to severely suffer from short attention span syndromes.

Human Learning Curve

Onboarding platforms should be ideally game-based and interactive to drive the engagement levels. It should also be mobile (nothing better than that) to enable learning on the go. Remember also that different audience reacts differently to different modes of learning. Implement a blended model, therefore, where content can be delivered as a mix of classrooms, microlearning formats and live webinars. Keep them engaged right from start.

In Conclusion

A study by analyst firm Aberdeen Group found that 86% of respondents felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment. The only way to succeed in business today despite the high attrition rates is to ensure that you have a seamlessly smooth, effective onboarding process in place.

There are specialized solution providers these days that help with a structured onboarding process under constant manager supervision with just-in-time learning and support. They are ushering in an era of customized learning journeys backed by completion analytics that track and measure real time engagement levels of new hires. They help predict high-performers and at-risk recruits based on onboarding data. This style of onboarding is getting extremely popular with organizations as they help in not just retaining the new hires, but enabling and engaging them in becoming better at what they do, be it sales, marketing, customer support, and more.

In the changing landscape, what holds the key is continuous learning and development to keep employees up-skilled and trained all the time. And it all starts at the first step, during the onboarding process. Comprehensive onboarding is quite an experience in itself, for both the organization as well as the employee, and the way you treat new hires tells all other employees in your company a great deal about your purpose, values, and culture.

Start investing in standard onboarding solutions (we told you it can be leveraged) for your organization’s biggest possible tangible gain. Integrate your employees. Blend the three Japanese faces together. Don’t just absorb, assimilate! For absorb could be a half-truth; assimilate is real and experiential.

Co-founder & COO of Disprz – Mobile Learning Company of the year 2017

A serial entrepreneur with a track record of taking category-defining products across media, formal education and enterprise learning to both emerging and developed markets across the world.