Why Onboarding Is So Important

  • January 2018
2 minute read

So often viewed as a tedious administrative requirement to process new hires, employers often unwittingly quickly tamp down a new hire’s enthusiasm for the job they’ve just accepted through their onboarding practices. The perfect onboarding agenda cycles through a full day of company history, values, mission statement, org chart, IT policies, security, and payroll & benefits.

So why do new hires often ask if they may skip “orientation” or come up with scheduling conflicts to prioritize another activity in place of orientation? And why do senior managers hosting orientation sessions suddenly come up with emergency conflicts that leave HR professionals scrambling for backfills?

Any new hire can answer the question. The content of high level overviews of company information is not retained over time and doesn’t answer pressing personal questions that new hires want quick answers to now (whenever “now” might be). Ask your orientation presenters and they will agree, describing the orientation as “check the box.”

Why is it important to acknowledge and fix these first impressions of a company and its leadership? Any diminished enthusiasm causes a shutting down, a protective withdrawing, inhibiting much of that special something that made your candidate stand out among her peers and landed her your offer of employment in the first place.

Think personally of important first-time experiences and how they influenced your motivation, commitment, energy, and involvement. A first date; the first class in a lecture series; the first time you met your soon-to-be in-laws; or the first time you met your fiancé’s best friend. Initial gut impressions quickly determine our behaviors; should I stay at arm’s length, be heads down and limit interaction, welcome new experiences, limit vulnerability, voice my opinions? So many ways to react.

We can change first impressions, but it requires more effort, time, energy and “proof” that the initial impression was wrong, than getting it right in the first place. In short, we must cultivate trust over time through consistent interaction.

Likewise, first impressions of a new job are no different, but they can have more profound and lasting consequences for employee engagement and productivity. In your personal life, you can make that first date your last date, register for a different class, limit time with the in-laws to major holidays and birthdays, or tell your fiancé it’s healthy for couples to have some separate relationships. But accepting a job means you might have made a mistake impacting your finances and medical benefits. And requires you to live with that mistake for 40+ hours a week.

HR professionals seeking to harness and benefit from the best their employees have to offer, now have tools available to develop creative and engaging onboarding strategies and can demonstrate to new hires they made the right decision accepting your offer–right from Day One. In today’s world, modern tools will make a huge difference. “Is this company investing in me and my experience? Or not.”

From on ongoing perspective, HR is now poised to take the lead in introducing AI-powered personal tools into the employee workspace. Lean HR teams on tight budgets now have real options to provide an information delivery tool that aligns with what we are accustomed to in our everyday life; things like quick access to information tailored to my specific personal profile through apps and chatbots, when and how I want it. Think creatively and you will find many HR processes lend themselves to an AI supported platform. Your employees with thank you.

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