It’s time to update onboarding in the workplace. The “old school” ways of bringing new hires into the fold just don’t work well anymore. The war for talent is heating up and this means the competition is all clambering after the same top level candidates. Once they are hired, these are the very same individuals who quickly leave because they have a poor initial experience on the new job.

Oftentimes, the onboarding process is archaic and lacks any kind of energy to get new hires excited about their new work life. Or, new hires are left to their own devices after going through a lukewarm orientation and training.

Why effective employee onboarding matters

Many new employees jump ship because employers have not taken the time to update onboarding procedures in keeping with current HR practices. Authors Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen advise in their book Successful Onboarding, that around, “one-third of all people who are working in their job for six months or less are already job searching.” We all know the astronomical costs of replacing lost employees, or worse yet, employing actively disengaged people.

MIT Sloan Management Review published the results of a study conducted by professors at Harvard Business School, London Business School, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, that revealed the weaknesses of traditional methods of onboarding, including:

  • Management assumes new hires will adopt organizational values once they are taught them
  • New hires feel “processed” and that their personal identities are lost somehow while at work
  • Newcomers may not internalize the company values, even if they appear to comply

What can HR leaders do to update onboarding procedures using new digital methods?

Fortunately, there are ways to vastly improve and update onboarding in any workplace. New technology can make a difference with onboarding, and they are easy to adopt. While they can never replace some traditional forms of onboarding, such as face-to-face communication and hands-on training, certain technologies like virtual interview apps, employee self-service platforms, and learning management systems can streamline matters. This modern approach needs to honor business fluidity, structured and fueled by ongoing feedback from new hires.

The digital onboarding process can enhance the way new hires are oriented, educated, and engaged in their new organization. Management can have a direct connection with new hires, while monitoring their progress. Today’s employees are tech-savvy and they enjoy using social media, which can be easily integrated into digital onboarding processes. Managers can use discussion boards, gamification, and social groups to create a collaborative and friendly onboarding environment. An example of this is the use of Yammer, which leverages social technology to help new hires building connections with their peers.

Remember, that a combined approach using technology and classroom teaching can provide the best results, but that it must be supported by a human touch. Consider adding a layer of ongoing management touch points, peer-to-peer coaching, performance reviews, and a central information directory where new hires can always find what they need to succeed.

Who to consult internally with creating initial drafts of the new onboarding process

Updating onboarding procedures often starts with implementing new technology, which requires project management, technical support, and training. Internally, this can take place via a committee of HR and managers, working in tandem with the technology team. Initial drafts of any new processes should be created by HR and management collectively. An external onboarding consultant can be brought in to facilitate this, if needed.

Ultimately, onboarding will continue to evolve as younger generations enter the workforce and require new ways of orienting and learning about new work environments. By using the above tips, your organization can take the first steps towards updating and improving the onboarding process for new hires.

Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor is the Founder and CEO of HR Knows

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