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10 Keys for a Successful Onboarding Program

 

Why Onboard?
Every organization wants to attract, retain and develop the best talent for their businesses. The onboarding process is vital to realize this ambition, but unfortunately often fails to make the necessary impact. Many recent studies show that a structured onboarding process doesn’t just prepare employees for a new position; it improves their engagement and confidence at a critical point in their new career, which in turn directly relates to an their performance.

 The current state of Onboarding

CrossKnowledge gathered data and feedbacks from 100+ clients and the results are striking: onboarding is a must-do for any organization, although 22% of corporate organizations still have no formal onboarding process in place!
Current onboarding program analysis shows that most companies start their formal onboarding on Day 1 and the average duration of the program is 28 days.
There is a slow shift towards longer programs that last 3 to 6 months, with traditional onboarding transitioning into continuous development and the regular employee performance cycle.

According to Brandon Hall’s 2016 onboarding survey, 98% of respondents want to improve their onboarding process, and more specifically new hire experience, collaboration (mentors, managers, and peers) and time-to-proficiency. In addition, there’s a will to make onboarding more effective by leveraging onboarding portals, workflow automation and onboarding checklists.

10 keys to make your Onboarding a success!

Onboarding requires a structured & strategic approach, and L&D leaders have a crucial role to play. Based on corporate lessons learned and deep-dive research, we have identified 10 keys to achieve ambitious goals related to productivity, engagement and retention:

  1. Start onboarding before the start date! Most organization start their onboarding on day 1, but you can start reaching out to new comers before that. It’s the right moment to start delivering on recruitment promise, to create a sense of excitement and to train on brand identity.
  2. Make it personal & create an experience! Every onboarding program should be different in content and structure, related to the individual new comer’s needs and current capabilities. What’s their role, which tools and processes do they need to learn about in their first weeks, and more important which positive emotions do you want to generate? You should be able to answer these questions before designing your onboarding program.
  3. Blend the onboarding journey! Design an exciting experience by mixing formal, social and workplace learning based on clear goals. This experience can be linked to the expected continuous learning post-onboarding.
  4. Ensure just-in-time access to knowledge portals and locate experts! The speed of knowledge transfer is increasing and new employees will need to have access to knowledge portals to leverage available knowledge just-in-time. In addition, they can start to locate company experts in relevant areas, so they’ll be able to reach out to them in the future.
  5. Involve the right people! It is essential to prepare and commit all relevant parties involved: new comers, line-managers, HR and L&D all have a role to play in making onboarding a success. Benchmark organizations have developed performance support checklists to guide and enable learning for new comers. Some are testing a psychological contract to clarify onboarding expectations during the first 12 months for new comers and employer.
  6. Appoint a buddy or mentor! For employees, onboarding is about connecting, feeling at home and finding a quick way to performance. A buddy / mentor can teach new comers about the organization, offer advice and help with job instruction. New employees connect more easily with mentors and are less hesitant to ask questions that they would be embarrassed to ask their managers.
  7. Promote inclusion and assimilation! The focus in most organizations has been on the new comer, and has neglected their team environment. Benchmark organizations prepare the new comers’ peers & colleagues by helping them understand who is joining, what their role will be and what they’ll bring to the team.
  8. Transform training into performance! Ensure that the onboarding program’s objectives are set and clear to enable evaluation & measurement of its success. Gather feedback via all available channels (pulse surveys; 360 feedback; tests; evaluation forms) to optimize the next editions.
  9. Onboard for internal transitions too! Do not underestimate that changing roles within the organization can also lead to a performance and engagement drop! Make sure that employees benefiting from internal mobility are onboarded into their new role.
  10. Invest in off-boarding! The war for talent is real, so make sure the off-boarding process is aligned with the professional way you onboard and develop employees. Positive leavers are your ambassadors on the labor-market and can help identify and encourage future joiners. Therefore,– professional off-boarding can feed the organizations’ recruitment pipeline.

Bottom Line

Onboarding new hires is a challenge for many organizations and isn’t currently meeting its core goals: time-to-productivity, retention and engagement. With the right approach and support, these 10 keys can be leveraged in all corporate environments to lead both the individual new hire and the organization to success.