Developing a Learning Culture

Does Your Onboarding Process Leave Employees to Sink or Swim?

“Welcome aboard! Here’s your workstation. Sink or swim.” If that’s the sum of a company’s onboarding process, it could spell disaster for the employee and the company. A new employee who enters the lion’s den without proper onboarding can turn from gregarious and confident to shy and withdrawn, afraid of getting fired. The first-impression door swings both ways. The employee has already impressed the company. Now, the company must make a good first impression. Improper onboarding can mean a rocky and short-lived tenure for the employee and a botched opportunity for the company and the employee.

What is Onboarding?

Just as we socialize children, onboarding socializes employees into the corporate culture. The process transfers knowledge, skills and corporate behavior expectations to the new employee while increasing employee retention, productivity and effectiveness for the company. At the end, the employee should feel a sense of pride toward the corporate brand and culture.

Surf’s Up: Ramping Up for Success

The onboarding process begins with the interview. If the interview process assesses candidates for their likelihood to adopt the corporate culture as well as their skills and character, the new employee will more readily and quickly adapt to the workplace.

When developing an onboarding plan:

  • Set goals and objectives
  • Allocate human and technological resources
  • Create a checklist
  • Evaluate and tweak

Checklist for Success

  • Forms and paperwork. Everyone hates paperwork, so get it out of the way.
  • Corporate culture. Use a combination of technology, social learning, networking and mentoring, etc. to coach the new employee.
  • Job responsibilities. Instead of relying solely on technology, this is a good time to bring the manager into the fold.
  • Everyone hates rules and procedures but they’re the WD-40 of a well-oiled machine. Spend some time developing an engaging eLearning/mLearning program to cover all the do’s and don’ts as well as regulatory compliance and ethics. Add WWYD games, scenarios and interactive quizzes to lighten serious topics.
  • Follow up. In addition to following up with new employees, superiors should be available to the employee to ease the transition.
  • Assess and evaluate the employee and the onboarding process and make necessary adjustments.

Missing the Boat

Avoid these missteps:

  • Focusing on the negative instead of the positive. Do not, do not, do not… When everything is couched in negative terms, it shuts down the employee and stifles communication and creativity.
  • Hanging the employee out to dry. Here ya go; you’re on your own. When an employee enters the workplace for the first time and it becomes evident that the company is unprepared for his or her arrival, it signals, “You’re not important.”
  • Discouraging dialog. Effective communication requires input from both sides.
  • Conducting the entire orientation through manuals and eLearning. While technology plays an important role, it’s equally important not to forget the “human” component of human resources.

Finally, onboarding is an ongoing process. It doesn’t happen in a day or a week. Like a fine wine, it gets better with time.