Employee Onboarding – The Total Picture

In recent years there has been a proliferation of software on the market all claiming to assist in the employee on-boarding process, and in doing so, deliver various organisational returns such as increased employee engagement, commitment, productivity, as well as reduce intentions to leave and turnover.

On-boarding refers to the process by which a new employee acquires the attitudes, behaviour, and knowledge to become a productive, contributing member of the team and is a process measured by months and years not days and weeks.  From what I have seen, much of the onboarding software being touted in the market relies heavily on electronic portals filled with document libraries, forms, and links to various corporate branded content.  Much of this material usefully fills the pre-start and initial-entry phase of onboarding, yet is a very small part of the total onboarding process.

Unfortunately, no amount of organisational hand-holding and support will assist the adjustment process of a new employee if they don’t have the initiative, and self-starting intent to make use of available information!  To facilitate the success of an onboarding process, a better place to start might be the selection of proactive employees, since this group are more inclined to ask questions, seek feedback, socialise, and build the networks necessary to facilitate a speedy adjustment into an organisation.

Electronic forms do not negate the hands-on role of the manager and team in supporting an employee’s integration into an organisation.  Indeed, a wealth of research highlights the importance of carefully selecting (and training) in-house staff to assume the role of buddies, role models, and mentors for your new employee.  It would seem the more that a new employee feels they are informed, listened to, and encouraged – be it via one’s manager or colleague, the more likely they are to develop the confidence required to carry out the role that is being asked of them.

To ensure the long-term success of an onboarding programme, the process must extend beyond week 1. Long-term onboarding options might include job rotations, E-learning courses, targeted assignments, regionally based learning forums, 360 degree feedback, and refresher training.  Be prepared to measure the success of an onboarding programme as well and track the indicators that are most predictive of success at regular intervals.


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