Time to Proficiency is a Key Outcome of Strategic Onboarding

Kelly Carmody, Field Marketing Manager
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62% aim part of their onboarding program at getting employees working productively as fast as possible. – 2017 Strategic Onboarding Survey Report by HR Daily Advisor & SilkRoad

Many organizations strive for improved time-to-productivity as a key outcome of an onboarding process. A transactional onboarding strategy defines time-to-productivity as the time required for new employees to have all of the information, skills, and equipment necessary to perform their jobs at a productive level. Typically, this is achieved within the first week to a month of a new hire’s journey. Time-to-productivity is obviously important as many organizations experience a loss in output to some degree when a role is vacant. The faster new hires are brought up to speed and are productive, the faster they are able to adequately fulfill their job duties and bring a new energy to a team or department. It can pay huge dividends for employee morale and engagement.

However, most organizations limit their strategy to the new hire experience and miss the opportunity to drive productivity throughout the entire employee life cycle – from hire to retire.

Go Beyond the New Hire Experience 

Given the pace of innovation and today’s current talent economy, organizations cannot afford to solely focus on productivity from the new hire perspective. They need to take a holistic view of the entire workforce and deploy similar experiences to drive productivity and proficiency at every inflection point within the employee journey.

We define strategic onboarding as a continuous process that engages, aligns, and activates people throughout every transition in the employee life cycle. Strategic onboarding enables organizations to drive productivity and proficiency beyond the new hire’s first 30,60,90 days to include different stages in their journey. This can include transitions such as transfers, promotions, and even project-based engagements.

Go Beyond Time-to-Productivity

While a holistic onboarding strategy includes time-to-productivity, it places a greater emphasis on time-to-proficiency, or the time it takes for employees to achieve the job proficiency of an employee who has been at the organization or in that specific role for two years. This provides great insight into the speed and extent to which employees are able to drive business outcomes and make a meaningful impact on the organization and its goals. It makes an important distinction between employees can accomplish tasks vs. employees can drive business outcomes.

To achieve time-to-proficiency, many organizations leverage mentorship programs, self-guided learning, multi-directional feedback, and cross-functional projects where employees are exposed to other departments or lines of business. Organizations that enable employees to see a path for themselves within the organization are well-positioned to achieve higher levels of  engagement and retention.

60% of employees say the ability to do what they do best in a role is “very important to them”. – Gallup’s State of the American Workforce

To provide this path forward, organizations should look to create a continuum of personalized experiences comprised of meaningful touch points that inform, enable, and empower employees to maximize their effort and contribution to the organization relative to their role, ambition, and skill set. These experiences enable employees to be consistently aligned with organizational goals and feel activated to achieve them.

For more insights from the 2017 Strategic Onboarding Survey Report by HR Daily Advisor and SilkRoad, click here.


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