Is there a more effective way to on-board new hires?


I agree with the sentiment that you get the employee engagement you deserve. That is to say, the level of employee engagement in your business is a direct reflection of your efforts. If you don’t engage with them, they won’t engage with you. If all you need is compliance, indirect communication is fine.

If you want them to contribute, you’ll need direct communication. If you want them to commit to the cause, you must make an emotional connection with them.

Business Today describes onboarding as “the process of integrating new hires in a company. It normally includes filing up employment forms, orientation and training...”

This epitomises the sheep dipping approach referenced in your question and employers needs to move away from it! If you want to create a business culture where employees are emotionally connected, you need to take onboarding personally and make it personal.

It’s also not a “one-day game”. Effectively inducting new employees is at least a 90-day process. In a CIPD podcast, Paul Turner suggests that we should look at induction in three stages:

  1. “Operational induction” is where you cover the basic things needed for the employee to get started e.g. employee staff numbers and system passwords, access cards and work stations.
  2. “Orientation” addresses the people and the business they work in. It is important to align employees with the brand and the values of the company. This step is integral to the emotional connection you seek to make with new hires.
  3. “Onboarding” is a two-way process that allows for dialogue between the new employee and the business. It involves education and interaction and serves to connect the business with the employee’s value proposition. I suggest that you refer to an extract on our website of an interview that discusses “Mercer’s Big Picture”. It is an innovative approach to onboarding that gets people talking, shows new hires what’s really important to the company and builds employee passion from the outset.

Onboarding Survey Findings/Conclusions

A recent survey, highlighted several important components of a valuable onboarding program, the greatest impact can be made by combining the components

  1. The Manager is Critical. More respondents (33%) said their manager had the greatest influence on the effectiveness of their onboarding than did anything else. It is suggested this is especially true for the Millennial workforce as their “need for connecting at a personal level” is particularly high.
  1. Invest in On-The-Job Training. 76% of respondents agreed that on-the-job training is the most important thing a new employee needs to get up to speed and begin contributing quickly. Of course receiving organised, relevant and well-timed content matters. It’s just that this content is much more valuable if new employees know how to apply it.
  1. Invest Over Time. Many organisations think onboarding should be a one-day or one-week thing. He knows that onboarding effectiveness requires managers, mentors and buddies to be “involved, engaged, providing early feedback, and clear expectations” over an extended time frame.

An observation I can make from personal experience is that a “one-size fits all” approach to onboarding is usually ineffective. In your design of the onboarding process, I encourage you to look at what different new hires need to know and how they may want to access that information differently.

Some people may need to experience the workplace before they can assimilate information from presenters in different business areas. In such cases, a basic operational induction should be done on day one and it should include references to more detailed information that a new hire can work through in his own time.

Similarly, “Millenials”, people born between (roughly) 1982 and 2003, respond best to small, bite-sized pieces of (preferably) online information. A day of back-to-back PowerPoint presentations is unlikely to achieve the emotional connection you are looking for.

Onboarding is an extended process that needs to be carefully designed with the express purpose of engaging the hearts and minds of new employees. It should be inextricably linked with who you are as a business and therefore that process should be uniquely yours.

If you would like more information regarding onboarding new employees, email [email protected]