power your advice

Onboarding IS Important

"What we learn only through the ears makes less impression upon our minds than what is presented to the trustworthy eye." ~ Horace

Next to recruitment, the hiring process and managing foreward, onboarding is an organization's playbook that communicates how important its employees are. After going through this process numerous times, often one can correlate how their onboarding experience predicts how the remaining career may go. Turnover or churn costs money, drains profits, and can be avoided. I recommend organizations evaluate its "first impressions" and escalate the importance to be in line with recruiting the best talent.

Fortunately, I have had the distinction of being hired by some heavy weights. Unfortunately, the size or reputation of the organization does not guarantee a strong onboarding experience. Often the vision statements and first day experience don't match up. Size or reputation don't necessarily align with onboarding excellence. Circumstances don't dictate whether it will be positive either -- whether you were hired by the President or an HR professional tasked with recruiting.

It shouldn't matter who is being hired: an executive, a middle manager or frontline employee. An onboarding strategy communicates to new employees how important they are in the scheme of things and can foreshadows events. Minimizing first day enthusiasm is detrimental to your organization.

Those on Linked In or elsewhere spend a lot of time helping others get hired, then skip right into organizational issues -- leadership, best/worse bosses, communications, etc. etc. Yet onboarding, tends to be flat or ignored altogether: a foray of forms, introductions, etc.

Thankfully, there a few organizations that are fluid in all its dealing with new employees, from its recruiting to hiring to onboarding. They haven't skipped over to organizational charts, assigning responsibilities, setting performance metrics. Simply said: a "produce or perish" mentality doesn't bode well for the most optimistic or talented individual. An avoidable poor tone can override any excitement and compound nerves that can carry forward for days or years to come. After all the tests on intelligence, cultural fit, experience and reference checks, why isn't onboarding as important as all of that? Seems like a no brainer to me, yet it is often overlooked. I can identify with poor onboarding experiences. I've seen colleagues start on their first day, not know who will greet them, no ID badge, no computer, no computer log on, business cards, parking pass, etc.

According to WIKIPEDIA "onboarding" means (adapted from Bauer & Erdogan, 2011):

Onboarding, also known as organizational socialization, refers to the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders. [1] Tactics used in this process include formal meetings, lectures, videos, printed materials, or computer-based orientations to introduce newcomers to their new jobs and organizations. Research has demonstrated that these socialization techniques lead to positive outcomes for new employees such as higher job satisfaction , better job performance , greater organizational commitment , and reduction in occupational stress and intent to quit. [2] [3] [4] These outcomes are particularly important to an organization looking to retain a competitive advantage in an increasingly mobile and globalized workforce. In the United States, for example, up to 25% of workers are organizational newcomers engaged in an onboarding process. [5]

There you have it: organizational socialization. Any organization that demonstrates a caring for that new employee usually has planned this important "first impression" that lasts, disguised as onboarding that communicates:

  • We're happy to have you
  • You made a great decision to join us
  • We will prepare you for your job
  • We will ensure you know who, what, where you will start
  • We will support your success in every step of the way
  • We will onboard you: orientation, training, and an Agenda
  • We will ensure that someone will be there to greet you
  • We will assign a mentor who shows the right behaviors
  • We will ensure that you have all the tools from Day 1
  • At minimum, a new hire checklist with assigned responsible party should be mapped out and assigned:
  • A computer with log on credentials - IT
  • An ID badge - Security
  • Someone to greet you: your manager or a mentor
  • Where you will go: a training room, an orientation classroom, a desk - HR
  • An agenda: what you can expect in the upcoming days until you start assignment
  • Paperwork: forms, more forms to fill out, Policies, Code of Ethics, etc.
  • Training or orientation: a classroom or boardroom where you are given an overview, history, expectations, paperwork, benefits
  • Anything that communicates the company is happy to have the new recruit
  • omething that communicates that the company is happy to have the new recruit
  • Lunch with your new Manager, Mentor or team
  • Executive welcome on your first day in orientation or training room
  • An orientation or training environment where you meet others on similar first day
  • A video or something that intimately introduces your company (marketing, testimonial videos from happy customers, happy employees)
  • You can sweeten the experience and establish first day traditions:

  • ​Anything that communicates the company is happy to have the new recruit
  • Lunch with the new Manager, Mentor or team
  • Executive welcome on the first day
  • An orientation or training environment to meet others who share the first day
  • A video or something that intimately introduces your company (marketing, testimonial videos from happy customers, happy employees)
  • Granted, logistics, schedules and a whole whack of other interfering factors can hamper that first day experience. Simply said, don't assume the manager can ensure all the particulars are taken care of while multitasking: taking care of business, supervising other employees, meeting with customers, etc.. You can't assume either that HR has it all covered. They may be assume it is the recruiting or benefits, payroll forms. IT may have a serious matter to take of that distracted them from their responsibilities.

    By having an ONBOARDING Agenda with responsibilities assigned (and those assigned have backup designated) is as important as any and all recruiting process. Even better, if it is mapped out visually like your organizational chart. Just don't assume that it is taken care of.

    "Never assume everyone knows something: that only guarantees nothing will get done." ~ Jeannette Marshall