Want to Engage Employees? (HINT: It’s About How You Get Started)
by Derek Linsell on 14/02/2012
What does onboarding look like in your organization? Is it an ongoing process that integrates new employees, or does it start and end with a new hire orientation?
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) describes onboarding as “a process designed to welcome and educate new employees to an organization.” This definition allows for a high degree of interpretation, but is most often played out as “New Hire Orientation.” In reality, onboarding represents a crucial entry period that has great potential and impact on an employee’s ongoing success in performing their role.
On-boarding shapes how a new employee interprets organizational culture, objectives, and resource alignment with their role in the organization. It begins before orientation, specifically, the moment they accept the position. It is important to establish a relationship between the acceptance period and their first day, to address any concerns and clarify the role. A recent study shows that 40% of new executives fail in their first 18 months, so it is important that onboarding begins early and is targeted to specific populations such as:
Senior Leaders – A new leader requires an onboarding plan that caters to their situation and acquiring the leadership skills needed for their role. The framework should include a socialization component that provides teambuilding, networking, and mentoring to highlight what success looks like in the organization.
Managers – Similar to senior leader, but with a customized plan that focuses on tools and resources that can be applied in different ways to develop their team and drive profitability.
Remote Employees – This population creates a mutually beneficial relationship of bringing in talent that is not limited by traditional geographic boundaries, while providing flexible work options in return. Connect them with video conferencing and learning management system (LMS) tools to engage with personal interaction and involvement in the workplace experience. Use scaffolding in the learning process to teach the material in steps. It is important to build a relationship that emphasizes their individual strengths, as well as value to their team.
Seasonal - The same attention to onboading as year-round employees should be given to the seasonal population. After all, a customer is most likely not to know the difference in their dealings with your company. With a short time frame to work with, it is essential begin as early as possible to provide training on the technical skills needed to quickly become part of the team and acclimate to the organization’s culture.
Many organizations have successfully created onboarding processes that provide tailored toolkits and support structures that keep employees engaged and reduces new-hire turnover. At the Visiting Nurse Service on New York (VNSNY) for example, they customize their toolkits to reflect the unique differences in environment between their office-based and field-based staff. An added dimension to their year-long onboarding is incorporating three stakeholders, the new hire, their manager, and an onboarding buddy. The addition of an onboarding buddy creates a peer mentor dynamic that has correlated to a 55% reduction in first year attrition at VNSNY.
The return on investment for onboarding clear and its appearance in organizations is gaining momentum. The design it is implemented under makes all the difference. At Apricot, successful client onboarding looks like a full cycle role-targeted initiative that begins when the job is accepted, establishes milestones, and includes a feedback aspect that surveys employees on their experience after closeout. Taking conscious steps to establish and refine the onboarding process will encourage real engagement.