Onboarding Programs Connect Employees to the Company’s Future

Sharlyn Lauby, HR Bartender
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(Editors Note: Today’s post comes from Sharlyn Lauby of HR Bartender and ITM Group.)

The future of any organization lies with its employees. And new hires are no exception. An outstanding new hire onboarding experience sets employees up for success.

Good onboarding programs save the organization’s resources through automation, speed up time to productivity, increase engagement, and reduce turnover. This isn’t to say that an employee can’t have an absolutely awful onboarding experience and still turn out to be an excellent contributor. However, that shouldn’t be any organization’s goal. The goal of onboarding is to activate talent throughout the employee lifecycle.

During this year’s SilkRoad Connections Conference, four organizations (General Electric Company, Mediabrands, Newlink, and TRI Pointe Group) were awarded SilkRoad’s Talent Activation Award for outstanding design, innovative experiences, and strategic excellence in leveraging onboarding to activate talent.

The recipients graciously shared their knowledge in a panel discussion during the conference. They identified two major goals for any onboarding program.

Goal #1 – Create a great first impression. Good onboarding programs should make employees come to work every day saying, “I made the right choice accepting this job offer.” And that right choice starts when the employee applies for the job. Here are three ways to design an experience that candidates will never forget.

  • Visual design that resonates with candidates. The panelists talked about employees wanting to take a journey with the company. So, they used the “journey” metaphor visually in their career portal and carried it throughout the onboarding process.
  • User experience that candidates find intuitive. Organizations need to find ways to communicate with candidates using the mediums that they want (i.e. mobile and social). They also need to find ways to minimize paper.
  • Content that’s easy for candidates to digest and share. Organizations are aligning their customer and employee brand. For example, TRI Pointe Group calls their onboarding program “front porch” and their alumni portal “back porch”.

Goal #2 – Extend the candidate experience to the employee experience. One key concept that every award recipient mentioned was “onboarding doesn’t end.” Employees are constantly learning new things because the business is growing and changing. So, onboarding programs need to include activities that reinforce this mantra.

  • Fluidity from human resources and hiring managers. We mentioned this under Goal #1 with the user experience. Organizations need to meet employees where they are – that includes mobile. One thing that can help is checking out Google Analytics and understanding where career portal traffic comes from.
  • Engagement from managers and employees. Draw a link between employee performance and the organization’s bottom-line. Managers should conduct regular check-ins with employees at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, etc.
  • Connections happen through employee experiences. Employees feel engagement when they know people. Office buddies and/or mentors can facilitate relationship building. Organizations might want to consider assigning new hires an onboarding specialist to answer their questions.

When organizations focus on creating a great first impression and extending the onboarding experience into the employee life cycle, they change the way employees feel about the company and their work. Employees don’t show up on Day One asking basic questions about the company. Because they already know them.

Employees show up on their first day asking questions about the organization’s future. And a good onboarding program connects employees to their role in it.

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