Written by: William Ryan
Remember your first day at the new job? Remember the data dump of benefits, medical plan choices, direct deposit and tax forms, video from the CEO, chicken something for lunch – pretty amazing day – right? And day 2, when you finally showed up at the office, and the phone, email, and computer were ready for you, working, and waiting with your supervisor ready to talk with you and get you oriented to the people and projects – right?
“Half of all hourly workers leave new jobs in the first four months, and half of senior outside hires fail within 18 months. Clearly, there is room for improvement.” And the same SHRM report (Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success) noted that new employees “who attended a well-structured onboarding orientation program, were 69 percent more likely to remain at a company up to three years”.
>> Learn more at the webinar: Onboarding: A Virtual Path to Success!
More than new employees, onboarding impacts existing employees who are going to new roles even if the role is within their current group or part of the organization. Just because someone has been working at an organization for a while doesn’t mean that in a new role with new responsibilities and new team members that they won’t have experiences that leave them frustrated, confused, feeling alone, and unsure of their ability to be successful in this new role.
A structured onboarding program is key to the person’s long-term success and involves a strategic long-term plan. I found that using the first 4 months blending performance support systems, self-study training sessions around role-specific tools and techniques combined with frequent 1:1 session’s with the direct supervisor created a solid base for the individual leading to the next 8 months to include peer-to-peer sessions, class-based case studies, and a continuation of self-study lessons with 1:1 sessions with their supervisor. This model transitioned the person from new employee to active contributor focused on organizational goals and success. This 12-month process combines tactical training targeted around the needs of the role combined with constant communications and feedback from their supervisor and the key team members they interact with and need to be successful in their role. This focus on the key connections needed to reach a high level of performance are factors that impact employee retention and engagement too. The 12-month cycle follows the employee lifecycle for mentoring and development and includes a component often missing in onboarding programs in connecting people together to build the internal network and support collaboration going forward. Watch this short video here for additional ideas.
With the transition to a remote workforce, there is an opportunity to reach out and begin the process by engaging the person in advance of their start date, think of this as a pre-boarding effort. Use this time to provide the forms needed in advance, have short videos of key staff members ready and let them explain a bit about who they are and what they do. Make these videos informal and more from the team perspective instead of the CEO and CFO. Since most are remote, provide them access to your learning and social media platforms to deliver informational content. Finally, consider adding them to your virtual sessions to meet the team and key connections. Focus on personal, think about the key WIFM (what’s in it for me) for you and them, and allow fun into the engaging experience, in which you get to know more about your new colleague, and they can ask questions in a low stress, low stakes environment.
Whether the person is new to the organization or moving internally from one role to a new one, onboarding is more than 1 and done. It is a key component of creating a highly engaged worker and one that will stay with the organization for many productive and successful years.