Is your Onboarding Strategy Working: 3 Common Onboarding Myths
by Brian Monette and Jennifer Hanna
Back in the day, onboarding included little more than the provision of desk, a computer and a huge pile of paperwork. If you were lucky you also received an introductory meeting with your manager and additional meetings with team members and clients. Today, successful onboarding requires much more consideration to ensure the success of any new hire. To have the competitive edge and adapt to constantly changing conditions, organizations must recognize onboarding as one of the most critical components of the talent lifecycle.
New hires provide companies with a level of energy, enthusiasm and commitment that is tangible and contagious. This fresh and engaged perspective often becomes a lost opportunity because companies fail to capitalize on its positive effects. Whether a new hire is internal or external, a front line worker or a senior leader, the importance of harnessing their motivation and commitment to their new role is key in creating a positive culture and maximizing performance.
Workplaces today continue to face shortages in skilled workers, difficulties with employee engagement and changing generational needs. All of these challenges are forcing companies to re-evaluate their onboarding strategies and programs. During this time of reflection and re-evaluation, it is vital to avoid falling victim to many long standing myths about onboarding.
Here are 3 common onboarding myths:
1) ONBOARDING REQUIRES AN ORIENTATION SESSION AND PAPERWORK
Successful onboarding cannot be accomplished by orientation sessions and a visit to Human Resources. In the simplest terms, orientation does not equate to onboarding. Completing mandatory paperwork, locating offices and hearing about the company history is not enough. A comprehensive and successful onboarding program must address culture integration, time to role proficiency and completion of compliance requirements. Organizations must take the time to design varied and targeted onboarding activities that can be measured for success.
2) ONBOARDING ACCOUNTABILITY RESIDES IN HR
Gone are the days when companies can expect HR to carry out all the responsibilities of their onboarding programs. A new hire cannot successfully integrate into company culture or quickly become productive without additional activities beyond the scope of the HR function. The people and culture component of onboarding requires meaningful involvement from senior leaders, direct supervisors, predecessors, team members, peer mentors and other key stakeholders. New hires need time with all the people inside the organization that impact their role and their ability to be successful. When onboarding processes are easy, informative and enjoyable, the resulting employee experience leads to culture integration and job proficiency, …… but HR cannot do this alone.
3) ONBOARDING IS A SELF DIRECTED PROCESS
Some managers and organizations believe that new hires benefit from being thrown into the deep end to metaphorically sink or swim. The idea is that new hires will ‘naturally’ learn on the job with minimal supports. While a portion of onboarding involves self-directed, on the job training, much of it requires targeted and meaningful interactions with managers. When a new hire is left to manage their onboarding experience, success within the desired onboarding timeline is unlikely. Often they will move toward a base level of proficiency at a very slow rate. This can leave them with feelings of frustration and lack of on the job confidence. Both of those outcomes are highly undesirable as they come with high costs in productivity, engagement and retention.
New hires and their managers need to have a detailed understanding of what success looks like within the first 90 days in a role. They also need to know the order and priority of onboarding activities in order to decrease time to productivity. A collaborative approach between role successor, manager, role predecessor and team members ,support the identification of key knowledge gaps and the resources necessary to close them. Onboarding requires the transfer of knowledge and experience from all stakeholders, especially for complex roles. Organizations need to take the lead, providing a pathway with all the key employee experiences necessary to address the people, performance and paperwork components of successful onboarding. Only then, will this crucial part of the talent pipeline drive the productivity, culture and retention results desired by organizations and their people.