How Onboarding Technology Can Improve Talent Retention

The ability to recruit and retain talented employees, one of the most highly coveted resources for businesses of all sizes, is critical to industry success. It therefore comes as a surprise (at least to me) that many companies allow talent to slip through their fingers. How can this be? That’s simple: By failing to provide the effective onboarding experience new hires need.

The good news is that more enlightened employers now turn to technology to provide new staff with that very important workplace introduction. It is a structured yet flexible process designed to encourage employees to assimilate the culture of their new organizations, and as a result, stay for the long term.

A High Turnover of Talent

If you are looking for evidence of problems with staff retention, then look no further than the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey. This annual survey questioned more than 7,000 Millennials from around the world (though it’s not strictly a “Millennial” issue), to find out more about their attitudes toward work. As this graphic from the survey illustrates, fully a quarter of respondents expected to change their job in the next 12 months. Nearly half (44 percent) expected to jet within two years, while two-thirds think they might last until they end of 2020.

How Onboarding Technology Can Improve Talent Retention

While you could say that this lack of loyalty is due to the many stereotypes that trail the Millennial generation, the bottom line remains: An ineffective onboarding strategy certainly won’t encourage them to stick around longer, either. Remember that Millennials now represent the largest segment of the workforce in the United States, so new employees are almost exclusively from this cohort. This means employers must up their game to retain new recruits.

How Technology Can Aid Retention

Many of us remember the traditional (low-tech) onboarding process: Sit in a room, sign forms, skim some manuals, then be shown to a desk and get to work. Today, onboarding is an area where technology can be incorporated to enhance and simplify the process:

  • Communicate the culture and ethos of the organization
  • Explain policies and procedures and complete compliance documents online
  • Clarify roles and setting short- and long-term goals to aid development
  • Aid communication with managers and coworkers by way of forums, video conferencing, and social media outlets, for example.
  • Measure performance, evaluate progress, and provide feedback.

Technology can, of course, only go so far in HR management, with intervention and communication from real people always playing a vital role in the induction process for new employees. It will be a very sad day if a new hire is sent a software package and told to get on with it, however sophisticated that software might be. What a tech-heavy onboarding process can do though is deliver a more consistent, measurable, and effective experience to the benefit of the employer, the employee, and—at the end of the day—the company’s bottom line.

Harnessing Technology Solutions

Let’s look at some examples where technology solutions have already been introduced to enhance the onboarding process.

Empowered Development. One company using onboarding tools to help new employees settle in is the non-profit organization Ashoka. The Financial Force human capital management system, which acts as a hub for information within the organization, allows new staff to complete a number of tasks in the early days of their new jobs. According to operations director Asha Aravindakshan, “The first day sets the tone of the employee’s experience with the organization. All of the tasks help employees get settled in.” The system also allows the new employee to set their own goals, something that Aravindakshan says empowers them to “own their development.”

Aravindakshan also agrees that the software has made the job of HR easier with a streamlined induction system and online resources for new entrants.

Early Introductions. Addressing “first day jitters” is the goal of software developers ADP. Their software has features such as a facility for text and video introductions that can introduce new employees to coworkers, managers, and the company culture even before they enter the workplace.

Administrative functions and legal requirements are also covered; even integration with Google maps is included so new employees don’t get lost their first day at the office. Alex Outwater, senior director of product marketing for innovation and technology at ADP has this to say about the potential benefits for new recruits: “When employees step foot in the office, they know their team, they know their environment, they have met their manager, they have learned about the company, they have taken care of their paperwork. They have figured out where the office is.”

A Workout for the Workforce. Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of onboarding platform Yoi, suggested that using digital tools for onboarding is akin to consulting a Fitbit to stay healthy. Yoi, according to Ferrazzi, is based on a concept of “experiential learning” delivered in relationships with others, which produces results better than those of more traditional e-learning or instructional methods.

The result, Ferrazzi says, is a collection of onboarding tools that can deliver the right actions at the right time throughout the entire induction process. Through a range of assignments and assessments, managers are able, via a desktop interface, to customize the onboarding experience for all new employees. This way, says Ferrazzi, managers have the opportunity to not just boost engagement, but also to identify challenges for new recruits and take appropriate action to support them.

One thing is for sure: Technology is having a huge impact on how business is getting done. It’s interesting to see the variety of ways in which technology is being incorporated into the onboarding process. What has your experience been, either as new recruit or employer? Have you found the use of onboarding technology to be beneficial? I would love to hear about your experiences.

Graphic source The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

Additional Resources on this Topic:

Technology Can Save Onboarding from Itself
The First Steps to Transforming Work Culture
The Impact of Technology on HR and What’s Ahead

Photo Credit: johnkasperolympics Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on FOW Media.

How to Successfully Engage Employees in 2017

As more and more millennials come of working age, it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to prominently exhibit their corporate social responsibility policies on either their website or their employee handbooks—in part because CSR is proving to be increasingly vital to attracting and retaining quality employees.  In order for employees to feel engaged, it helps for them to feel as if the company they work for is working to benefit society in some way.  According to a study conducted in May of 2016 by Ante Glavas, a model building on engagement theory was tested in which “CSR enables employees to bring more of their whole selves to work, which results in employees being more engaged.”

Interestingly, there is also a correlation between employees’ connection to the world around them through community interaction and their connection to each other, in the workplace.  Both types of connections increase employee engagement by helping them feel as if they belong, rather than merely fulfilling their job-related duties, throughout the week.  For example, Four Winds Interactive was losing over $4M a year due to high employee turnover.  Because of this, they decided to invest in peer recognition programs, community engagement opportunities, wellness programs, and employee benefits.  In addition, they invested in an internal visual communication network that visually reinforced employees who participated in wellness or extracurricular activities.  As a result, their turnover rate decreased by half, after a year—which also saved them more than $2M.

In order to save the $2K a year it costs to deal with low employee productivity, increasing an organization’s culture and level of employee collaboration will help minimize disengagement and boredom.  One crucial component to keep an eye on is the level of peer camaraderie, since it is the number one motivator that inspires employees to work especially hard.  Other engaging factors, according to Villanova University, include employee and supervisor familiarity, basic training, employee development, employee recognition, teamwork, employee coaching, and customer-focused teams.  Encouragement and inspiration are key to maximizing engagement.

How can managers encourage the retention and development of an engaged workforce?  One way is to monitor compensation levels, making sure that employees are fairly compensated for their hard work.  If there are very large gaps in pay between executives and average employees, these gaps “Create destructive competition among management and cynicism among employees.”  Therefore, in general, large pay gaps don’t make for strong employee morale.  Moreover, differing opinions should be encouraged, career roles should be considered flexible, all employees should be recognized and acknowledged, and there should be ample opportunity for growth and development.

That last point is key: your employees may be engaged and motivated, but are they enabled? In other words, do they have the tools and training they need to do their jobs?  Are they regularly updated about their performance, as well as corporate policies and how to go about adhering to those policies?  Are they given a reasonable amount of work, and do they have ample time to balance that work with their own life, including activities such as community service?  Only when they have the tools they need will they be able to perform their job duties to the best of their abilities, while still feeling motivated and engaged.

Along with engagement, however, let’s not forget about CSR!  How are the two connected, again?  Well, for one, Employee Benefits found that employees involved in CSR initiatives are generally more engaged with an organization’s culture and values.  Perhaps the more in alignment with an organization’s ethics and CSR policies, the more motivated employees become to stick around.  They probably feel inspired by the company’s dedication and gain more of an interest in committing to the same amount of community engagement, themselves, outside of work-related initiatives.

Similarly, The CRO found that “When employees feel that the company they work for is not only socially responsible by investing resources to improve communities around the globe, but is also equally invested in their professional growth, it results in greater employee loyalty and inevitably translates into contributing to the company’s bottom line.”  In other words, the more stable a company, in terms of lack of attrition, the better—financially-speaking.  Of course, the financial benefits also extend to benefits for employee morale.

Moreover, according to research conducted by Philip H. Mirvis, there are several main methods of engaging employees: via a transactional approach, where “programs are undertaken to meet the needs of employees who want to take part in the CSR efforts of a company”; a relational approach, “based on a psychological contract that emphasizes social responsibility”; and “a developmental approach, which aims to activate social responsibility in a company and to develop its employees to be responsible corporate citizens.”  Liz Bardetti advocates for taking a relational route, due to its ability to create what she calls “a deeper level of engagement” that “acknowledges employees as citizens of the company and community.”

The most prominent point that came up over and over again in my research on what makes for good employee engagement was the importance of a feeling of belonging and relationships to motivating employees to remain engaged, in the workplace.  Interestingly, this need—though unsurprising—is totally within the realm of emotion and not at all rational or workplace-duty-related.  It speaks primarily to a very human, primal need—bypassing professional concerns, entirely.

This brings us back to a question of priorities—not just as business people, but as human beings who must coexist with others within a common community, neighborhood, or city.  In the end, what differentiates us is not as important as the characteristics we hold in common.  We should look to these commonalities while looking into sustainable ways to increase our organization’s level of community involvement.  May we all find ways of being that allow us a greater sense of belonging in our everyday lives—in both our workplaces and our homes.

Image source: Daniel Thornton