What You Need to Build a Successful Onboarding Program

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7 Key Components to a Successful Onboarding Program

(Today’s guest post comes from Sharlyn Lauby of HR Bartender and ITM Group.)

In today’s candidate driven employment market, organizations understand the importance of creating an awesome candidate experience. The better the candidate experience; the more engaged your new hires will be. We also know that the process that covers both the candidate experience and new hire engagement is onboarding.

During this year’s SilkRoad Connections Conference, we talked a lot about the new trends in onboarding. One of them being the concept of “pre-boarding.” It’s defined as that administrative portion of onboarding where new hires are completing paperwork and getting the compliance side of their new role taken care of. It’s totally necessary and an important part of the overall process.

But that’s not all there is to onboarding. The human resources team at the Van Andel Institute gave a great presentation with a list of key components for building a world-class onboarding program. Something that’s much more than just pre-boarding.

The Van Andel Institute (VAI) is an independent nonprofit biomedical research and science education organization committed to improving the health and enhancing the lives of current and future generations. Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, VAI has grown into a premier research and educational institution that supports the work of more than 330 scientists, educators and staff. Even as the business world continues to change, these key components are able to guide our onboarding process.

  1. Create values and expectations for employees. Onboarding isn’t only about the company telling employees what they want them to know. VAI found out from employees what they expected to learn during onboarding and made sure it was a part of the program.


  1. Educate and train for success. If you want employees to be committed to the organization, they need to feel like their success is also the company’s success. Talent acquisition is very competitive and showing candidates the investment VAI makes into an employee’s success gives them a competitive advantage. It also makes for a better workforce and organization.


  1. Develop the company culture and branding. This provides the consistency that every organization and employee is looking for. People know what to expect from the brand and the employer. From a talent acquisition perspective, it helps candidates decide to engage with the organization.


  1. Give readers welcoming and engaging content. The way we communicate says something about us. The words we use and the phrases we choose allow candidates and new hires to engage with the company. The other piece of communication that’s awesome is today’s onboarding solutions which allow us to customize content, giving the audience what they need at the moment they want it.


  1. Make sure the site is visually pleasing. Images, images and more images! That old saying that a picture says a thousand words has never been more meaningful. Not only can organizations tell people what it’s like to work at their company, they can show them. Pictures of employees having fun doing serious work are priceless!


  1. Provide users with an intuitive experience. Technology today isn’t about being easy. It’s about being intuitive. Candidates shouldn’t have to call people to figure out how the site works or how to do something on the platform. Having intuitive technology tells candidates and employees that the company put some thought into the user experience and that having a good experience is important.


  1. Develop a review and maintenance schedule. Once an onboarding program has been created and implemented, the process isn’t over. In fact, it’s just getting started. HR needs to gather regular feedback from users, review the program for new elements and plan for updates.


Onboarding processes are changing every day because the workforce is changing. The Van Andel Institute provided a list of components that you can use to keep your onboarding program current with the workforce. If you’d like to learn more, check out the Van Andel Institute case study.

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