I was having a brief conversation with one of my daughters recently, who was recently promoted and provided the opportunity to lead others. She is currently in the process of on-boarding and orienting a newly-hired team member. As we talked, my daughter was excited by the opportunity to bring this new hire onto the team and was purposely planning how to make this process as productive as possible for the new team member and the team. It was only the next morning, when, in my email, Chris Williams at the Culture University shared his post titled, “Creating a World-Class Onboarding Program Aligned with Your Culture.”
In his post, Chris persuasively shares the importance of efforts to onboard new hires. He said, “in order to bring strategy to life, you need to engage the hearts and minds of all your employees quickly and consistently. You need them to understand your business and their individual place in it, to feel a part of the culture and to be motivated to put forth the discretionary effort to propel your organization to success.” Unfortunately, the research indicates that many organizations have significant gaps in their onboarding programs with nearly 33% of new hires looking for a new job within their first six months and 23% of new hires turning over before their first anniversary.
Chris identifies seven sets of activities that can help organizations create a world-class onboarding program.
- Immerse new hires in your culture. Take the time to immerse your new hires in your purpose and desired culture and be honest about where you are on that journey. There’s nothing worse than being promised one thing and experiencing something completely different.
- Design the onboarding experience backwards. We have five generations in the workforce, a rise in workplace flexibility, and people glued to their cell phones—all reasons to think harder about how we meet our employees “where they’re at” so we can develop programs that successfully resonate with the interests, tech habits and workplace behaviors of today’s employee.
- Pace and sequence onboarding over time. Don’t get sucked into rushing your new hires through heavy content in only a few days—onboarding is not a race. Also, if we know the first six months to one year are critical retention timelines, why on earth would we only focus onboarding in the first 30-60 days?
- Give them the puzzle box top. Context is king. Many new hires join a function and are only given information related to their specific department, leaving them with little to no clue as to what is going on with the rest of the business. It is becoming more and more important for employees to collaborate and communicate across silos to help the organization innovate and adapt quicker. So before asking them to own their piece of the puzzle, immerse them in the big picture by giving them the box top view.
- Show them how they connect to your strategy. If you are hiring someone, it means they are a critical part of your strategic plan—or at least they should be, otherwise what’s the point? Whether they are part of the cleaning crew or a senior executive, each employee plays a part in bringing your strategy to life. Yet, in the majority of cases, the connection is fuzziest at best … or non-existent at worst. How can you expect your people to execute on your strategy if they don’t even know what that strategy is or how they connect to it? Your new hires at all levels are more capable of “getting” your strategy than your executives give them credit for. Great onboarding programs acknowledge this and focus on how to engage new hires in the big picture strategy from the start. But remember, one-way “tells” do not work and PowerPoints kill! Work on simplifying the complex, and use storytelling to engage your new hires in what your organization wants to achieve.
- Tool up your managers. People don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Consistently, this is the number one reason people quit and move on to new pastures. So, it seems crazy that front-line managers are also the most undervalued and underinvested group within the workforce today. Most managers will tell you they don’t have time to get sucked into nurturing new employees under their watch because they’re too focused on executing tasks. But in that case, maybe we have them focused on the wrong thing? The number one job of your front-line managers is to develop and build high-performing teams.
- Show them their development roadmap. More and more, employees are leaving organizations because they don’t see the development opportunities available to them. The majority of graduates are looking for career advancement over anything else, yet instead of a clear development path, the journey feels more like a dirt track with a bunch of conflicting and poorly designed signs. Many keep hearing complaints about Millennials wanting promotions before they’ve proven themselves. Maybe if we’re more upfront about what their journey looks like, how long it takes, and how they’ll get there, we’ll nip that argument in the bud?
What are you doing to help your new hires not only get started but become fully integrated into your team and Company?