best way to do employee onboarding programs

By Monica Steffeck

Being a new hire is hard no matter what. If the hiring process was done well, you clearly understand the job and you’re equipped with the necessary skills to do it, but you have no idea the eco-system of the organization, how decisions are made, who your coworkers are or how all the systems work.

Traditional onboarding addresses orientation needs – hours, dress code, benefits, basic policies, and the basics of the role. Rarely do onboarding programs address integrating into the decision-making structure or culture of the organization, or effectively address how work is carried out beyond the role an individual was hired into.

When we partner with companies to apply our custom-curated integration program, Spark Impact, we recommend partners use 3 key measurements to ensure success:

  1. Retention: is this onboarding improving our retention of top talent?  Specifically, are we experiencing any turnover between the time of acceptance of the offer and a person’s first day and is there any top talent turning over in their first 6 months? When turnover is present, it’s likely an employee is feeling stuck or unable to make an impact as effectively as they planned, or the job isn’t matching up with they expected. An effective onboarding helps foster great relationships with coworkers while equipping new hires with an understanding of how their job and the greater organization works.
  2. Time to impact: the primary purpose for any onboarding is to accelerate a new hire’s time to impact. No matter what the role, there’s always a period of time where new hires are less than 100% impactful at their job simply because they’re new and don’t yet understand all the most important pieces of the job. When we partner to implement Spark Impact, we recommend partners regularly assess the speed and quality of their onboarding by tracking time to impact. Every role may look somewhat different but with the right onboarding, the timeline can be accelerated causing better results for your business.
  3. Operational efficiency: If you ask someone in HR, it’s likely an item that takes more time than they’d like. A well-crafted onboarding uses a Socratic (questions-based) method to ensure the relevance of information being provided to new hires while reducing administrative time updating PowerPoints and information sheets.  When we evaluate a quality onboarding, it’s critical that the administrative efficiency of delivering the program is sustainable when considering the ROI on time to impact.

Overall, as you’re evaluating the impact of your onboarding or possible solutions for the future, ask yourself whether the method you’re examining equips employees to be great self-solvers or merely supplies them answers to common workplace questions.  The greatest way to waste time onboarding is to use it to serve static information. Instead, approach it as an experience that kicks off an employee’s job with habits that, if replicated, make them and your business more impactful.

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