Strategic Onboarding is Essential for Vulnerable Financial Institutions

Alexandra Levit,
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(Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Alexandra Levit of PeopleResults

In the financial world, failing to effectively onboard new employees can be catastrophic. There are the usual costs associated with new hire turnover (nearly a million dollars a year for the average organization), but in addition, unprepared new employees may unknowingly commit expensive and illegal accounting and compliance errors and may feel so frustrated with their jobs that they depart for better opportunities.

Today’s Onboarding Is So Much More Than a One-Day Orientation

We refer to onboarding as the period of time that organizations enculturate, engage, and train their new hires.  According to the Brandon Hall Group’s new report, The Evolution of Onboarding: Trends and Opportunities, the best onboarding initiatives confirm and exceed expectations set during recruitment, introduce new hires to how their contributions impact their organizations, help new hires assimilate and navigate the culture of the organization, train new hires on basic logistics for job performance and career path, optimize engagement with the organization, and introduce new hires to key people who can facilitate performance and growth.

Unfortunately, not all financial organizations possess this level of onboarding sophistication. Not surprisingly, Brandon Hall found that organizations with lower onboarding maturity have higher first-year attrition rates. And quick quits, or resignations that occur within the first six months of employment, account for a large percentage of all turnover.

Technology Can Solve Issues Stemming from Underprepared and Underutilized Hires

Why are financial professionals so sensitive to the effects of poor onboarding? The natural complexity of these roles and the need for new employees to get up to speed and work with others quickly are two reasons. Also, organizations fearing the errors we discussed earlier may underutilize new hires, and as a result, they may feel undervalued enough to leave. It doesn’t help that the job market for financial professionals is strong right now, especially for those with accounting and legal skills.

Organizations can do a great deal to stop the immediate brain drain of new financial hires. First and foremost, they should develop a comprehensive, technology-driven, and learning-focused onboarding experience. Brandon Hall found that organizations with higher onboarding maturity are using a combination of strategies including electronic forms, document management, dashboards, portals, and learning content support.

These features hit exactly what financial organizations need to keep their new hires: effective allocation of resources, seamless knowledge transfer, and risk management. In fact, Brandon Hall’s survey respondents said that these technologies drive improvements such as process management (73 percent of respondents), automation of manual tasks (70 percent), better new hire experience (60 percent), support for a dispersed workforce (52 percent), and decreased time-to-proficiency (49 percent). And 73 percent who use onboarding technology to train new employees do so to address critical legal requirements and compliance practices, while 63 percent do so to address differentiating product and service knowledge.

If you are a financial institution that needs to up your onboarding game, how should you get started? In devising a plan, it helps to identify your weakest links first. Assess where your greatest turnover problems are occurring and investigate the causes. Take a single issue (for example, a time-to-proficiency window that’s far too long), attempt to solve it with onboarding technology, and monitor the results. While you might not be able to reach a high level of onboarding maturity tomorrow, your efforts are likely to be cumulative.

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