How Organisations are Solving the On-boarding Dilemma

On-boarding is a necessary first step in introducing new employees to the organisation and familiarising them with the company’s culture, practices, and values. However, for many, on-boarding remains a very paper-based procedure. Indeed the general consensus from our recent HR Transformation Forum was that organisations are striving to achieve innovative, exciting, and engaging on-boarding practices. However, with this comes the challenge of ensuring that on-boarding remains effective and valuable for all involved, from employees and managers, to the organisation itself.

Innovative On-boarding practices

Pre on-boarding activities

For most organisations on-boarding usually begins when the employee first steps into the office. However, in its truest sense, on-boarding encompasses a range of tasks and requirements involved in engaging new employees in the organisation, and should ideally commence before an employee starts their new role. From the forum it became evident that organisations that had effective on-boarding programs started the process as soon as the letter of offer was signed. For example, asking new employees to investigate what effective sales people within the company do by visiting their stores, or using social media to open a dialogue between the employees and the company.

Providing employees with early insight into their new role, and the company culture, can ensure that prospective employees are engaged and prepared as soon as they are offered a role. However, caution needs to be exercised when using social media platforms (such as Facebook and Twitter) to engage employees prior to commencing work, particularly in regard to how information is regulated.

Engaging compliance training

Traditionally compliance training has been a key ingredient in all on-boarding programs. Often the material is very dry and takes a long time to complete. Those seeking to improve their on-boarding programs are reviewing their compliance training. Majority make it available online and ensure it is interactive, personal, and use scenarios, simulations and role plays. Some forum participants suggested that compliance training was more effective when given overtime in smaller segments. The focus is on providing engaging compliance training.

In addition, many organisations are starting to ask new employees to complete compliance training prior to the first day. The content can be provide prior to starting, with a face to face session run during the first week to discuss how the compliance is practiced in the organisation. This would involve discussion of scenarios and may include role playing.

Getting managers on-board

Often the on-boarding responsibility falls on HR, with line managers having little involvement in the process. Many shared a story of a new employee sitting in reception and the manager not even in the building. Line managers need to have equal involvement in the on-boarding process. Forum participants agreed that on-boarding programs that involve managers are not only more personable, but are also more effective in assimilating employees into their roles and the organisation. Leading practise suggests that the on-boarding process should ideally end when employees are competent in their role, rather than at the end of the probation period. Managers play an integral role enabling employees to act competently and should therefore be actively involved in the on-boarding process.

Measuring on-boarding success

The effectiveness and success of on-boarding activities lies in their contribution to the employee’s integration into the organisation, but also the organisation’s bottom line. In order to ensure this, on-boarding programs should to be consistent with, and aligned to, the company values and success metrics (What gets measured gets done). Some metrics for measuring the success of on-boarding programs that participants suggested during the forum included retention and turnover during the first year of employment, and employee experience of the work, team, and company culture.

While organisations are looking for the next big thing in on-boarding, it is important to remember the importance of rooting practices at an individual level, and ensuring they contribute to overall organisational success. We would love to hear your thoughts on development in on-boarding practices and what is working for your organisation.