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Why onboarding is for employees at all stages

Onboarding isn’t just for new hires, but for every employee who is going through a transition. The more mature your organisation’s onboarding model is, the better it will perform.

Onboarding is the framework through which a new hire will engage with an organisation. If done correctly, it sets employees on the path to success within your company. But a common mistake is assuming onboarding is just for new recruits. In reality, almost all transitions an employee makes within an organisation should be facilitated by an onboarding process.

Too often, this doesn’t happen. According to a study by Brandon Hall Group and SilkRoad, The evolution of onboarding: Trends and Future Opportunities, a lot of companies aren’t paying employee transitions the attention they deserve.

Less than half (48 per cent) of the organisations surveyed had a process in place to ease the transition after a promotion, and even less (40 per cent) guided employees through a business unit transfer. Interestingly, relocating offices and coming back to work after an extended period of leave are two of the most neglected transitionary processes (37 per cent and 29 per cent respectively).

Of course you want to get your new employees off to the best start, but your existing staff should be given similar support when they transition. This ensures all employees are engaged, productive and grounded.

How effective is your onboarding process?

When it comes to onboarding capability, organisations function at four different levels, categorised by the onboarding maturity model. Those that operate at the lower end of the maturity spectrum, have only a basic system in place. They don’t use software and they might be in the early stages of developing their program.

On the other end of the scale, are the organisations that have a formal process, use technology, and analytically track the effectiveness of their programs. These companies can detect precisely where they’re falling short of their goals, and adjust accordingly.

What distinguishes organisations who perform at the highest end of the maturity curve is that the onboarding technology they use is integrated with their Learning Management System (LMS). This gives them a much clearer picture of how effective onboarding is at aligning an employee with performance and organisational objectives.

The proof is in the pudding: the more mature your onboarding process is, the better your employees, and your business, will perform. The Brandon Hall research shows that organisations who have implemented a dedicated onboarding technology system have improved capability in all key metrics when compared to those who haven’t. This includes increased rates of market penetration, revenue and performance, customer satisfaction, and retention and employee engagement (see the study for more details).

The onboarding journey

Having onboarding technology in place is the first step; knowing how to use it effectively is just as important. Companies should ensure their technology offers both easy connectivity and a seamless user experience.

An employee going through an onboarding or transitioning process is on a journey that can be broken down into three components:

  • Comprehension of their role, what’s expected of them, goal setting, and a plan of action to achieve these goals.
  • Matching the content and training to the role and providing it at the right time.
  • Easy access to administrative processes and information necessary for successful leadership.

Although these three components are necessary for every transition, each journey will be different and require its own individualised process.

To illustrate, let’s take a first time manager and a senior manager. A first time manager will need to learn the skills and responsibilities involved in a leadership role, find a mentor, connect with the team and help them set goals, and provide feedback. They also need to work on the career path of each of their team members, playing to their strengths and developing capability around their weaknesses.  

A senior manager on the other hand, already knows how to perform these tasks. Their focus will be on developing quarterly plans, finding mentees to coach, providing recognition and checking-in with team managers’ goals – all the while giving guidance and support.

Both sets of managers should be able to use the same onboarding system to cater to their different needs. This is where a Talent Center Portal comes in, tailoring the content to the needs of the user and delivering it at the right time.

How to help a new manager perform at their peak

Let’s take a deeper dive into the new manager example. Their talent center portal will include a suite of onboarding tools, as well as modules that help them:

  • Learn about their new role
  • Learn about their new team
  • Develop and grow
  • Reflect on their journey

For each overarching goal on their onboarding journey, specific tasks should be set – and they should be supported by knowledge databases that help explain the motivation behind and importance of each task.

For learning about their new role, this could include the expectations and management guidelines that should be reviewed and understood within an allocated time. They should also learn about the impact their role will have on their organisation and develop a plan of action about how to work towards organisational goals.

Development and growth are necessary for both a manager and for their team. To enable this, the portal should have skill milestones in place for personal and team development to ensure both are growing at the right rate.

Team development is necessary as a new manager. The talent portal system should explain what’s important in these areas and how to go about fostering a relationship with your team at different stages.

Lastly, it’s important for the new manager to reflect on their onboarding journey and what they  have learned. This is an opportunity for them to think about whether they have received the right guidance and support to do the job effectively, and are clear about the organisational values, goals and expected outcomes.

It’s here where employees have the opportunity to provide feedback, so you know how effective the system has been. It also provides HR with the ability to see how the employee’s journey has progressed, and rate its effectiveness.

To find out more about onboarding trends and how a dedicated onboarding system can help your organisation with all employee transitions, download the report here.

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