Photo: Samantha Borges

Why Online Onboarding Is Better For Your Employees

Let’s assume it is Monday morning where you work. Is it fairly safe to assume that you have a group of new employees sitting in a classroom being oriented to your organization?  Is your organization still running classroom-based orientation sessions?

I’m not saying you should immediately abandon all classroom-based orientation sessions. However, it’s time to consider whether or not you’re in a rut of doing orientation the same way.  For sure, you need to get new employees to sign forms, but even that can be done online before or on their first day.

The challenge with classroom-based orientation is that new employees need to wait until the next in-person session. That session may be weeks from their start date. Also, if they don’t work at your head office, then they are out of luck.  No meet and greet over coffee and donuts for them.

Then there’s the challenge of booking the speakers (senior executives) to do their half hour presentations about their areas of responsibility.  Once booked they dutifully show up to go through their slides.  That’s quite an investment of senior leadership time.

Why not make it easier on everyone by offering your new employees an online orientation and onboarding experience.

Here are 5 reasons why online orientation and onboarding is better than classroom-based:

Reason #1.  Online orientation meets the needs of your geographically dispersed new hires

First of all, you already know that it is way too expensive to fly regionally or globally dispersed employees to the ‘corporate’ in-person orientation session.  However, you also think they deserve the same great orientation as other new employees at head office.

Online orientation and onboarding solves that problem. Every new employee is treated the same, no matter the location. They participate in a great orientation and onboarding process when they need it.

Reason #2:  Online orientation ensures even your less than effective managers will be well prepared for their new employees

Really effective managers will automatically support and deliver well planned orientation and onboarding. What about the other managers who do a poor job of orienting and onboarding your organization’s new employees?

An online orientation and onboarding process solves that problem.  All managers are given online notifications of when their new employees are going to start as well as a personalized preparation checklist. Your Human Resources team can monitor, through online reporting, the readiness of the managers for their new hires. Then it’s an automated process for new hires to start their online learning path on their first day. All it takes is a computer and an access code.

Reason #3:  Online orientation helps you curate much need content for new hires

It’s mega-information overload for new employees. There’s an abundance of information they could potentially access and browse once they join your organization. In the same way that internet content is curated, you need to curate the organizational content (knowledge) for your new hires.

An online orientation system helps you to effectively organize and point to the most important tools, resources and online materials your new employees should browse during their first weeks and months on the job.

Reason #4:  Online orientation makes it easy to update content so it’s ever green

Nothing stays the same. The value of online resources is that they can be and are usually updated regularly by their resource owners. So, all you need to do is point the new hires to the most important areas of your organization’s internet and intranet sites. They get instant access to the most relevant materials, tools and resources. No more running around making copies of materials to hand out to new hires.

Reason #5:  Online orientation gives you better tracking and reporting of new hire orientation completion

Compliance is important when it comes to orientation and onboarding. Is safety a big issue for your organization?  Or maybe, it is risk and/or security.  Whatever the compliance challenge, an online orientation and onboarding process will provide you with the reporting you need to ensure your new employees are getting the training they need.

Online Orientation Software

Orientation and onboarding software already exists to help you customize your organization’s new hire process. So, what are you waiting for?  Handing out orientation binders full of soon to be outdated materials is so old school. It’s time to bring your orientation and onboarding process into the computer age.

Onboarding: First Impressions Count

Let’s start with the assumption that your organization wants to attract and keep top talent.

Did you know that orientation and onboarding actually starts from the first contact you have with your potential new employees? They start learning about your organization when they first read the job advertisement, browse your organization’s website, and talk to whoever conducts the screening calls and sets up the interviews.

You’ve already made a positive or negative impression on the potential recruit. They’ve gathered critical information about your organization’s branding, organizational structure, products and services, position in the marketplace, and key executives.

First Impressions – Setting The Stage

Once they show up for their interview, they continue to gather first impressions.

They can tell a lot about your organization while sitting in the lobby waiting to be interviewed. I personally look and listen for what I call the ‘laugh factor’. How much laughter do I hear? Are existing employees carrying on lively and interesting conversations with each other? Or, do the employees have their heads down as they walk down the hall? Are they are walking fast and ignoring others around them? The ‘laugh factor’ is typically not present in organizations that are not customer-focused and employee-centric. Or, it may be missing because the organization is not performing well and there are severe cost-cutting and/or downsizing measures taking place. This certainly kills the ‘laugh factor’.

Of course, you shouldn’t pipe laughter into your lobby’s sound system or hire smiling actors to walk the hallways, but you can select an interview location that best represents your organization. Real estate agents know the importance of staging a home environment to increase sales, why not stage your recruitment environment to start the orientation and onboarding process off to a great start.

Here are some orientation and onboarding ‘staging’ ideas:

  • Hang pictures or other informative signage about your organization (i.e., vision, mission and values, pictures of satisfied customers, and/or employees’ social events and/or fundraising activities).
  • Set up a television monitor with video (automated looping) of your organization’s key branding messages for new recruits to watch while waiting for their interview.
  • Put promotional materials about your organization on display for potential new hires to leaf through while waiting for the interview. Offer copies to take home.
  • If possible, provide or at least show samples of your products to try out while waiting or to take home (e.g., if you make consumer products like chocolates, candy, beverages, etc. offer them to potential new recruits).

First Impressions – Pre-Hire Candidates Reactions

As soon as prospective employees leave their interview you can very safely assume they will quickly send out tweets, emails, text messages and/or make phone calls to family and friends to tell them about their interview experience. For sure, friends and family are waiting to hear about your new employees impressions of you, the job, and your organization. What would you like to hear these potential recruits say?  What can you do to influence these ‘public relations’ messages about your organization?

First Impressions – Pre-Hire Information Sharing

Yes, your organization’s recruiters and managers need to conduct effective interviews. They also have the opportunity to ensure potential employees learn key information (beyond what’s publicly available on your web site and press releases) that gives them new and exciting knowledge about your organization. For sure, the interview needs to be about information gathering but your recruiters and managers can also act as ambassadors for your organization, fairly representing its best features.

What potential new employees see and hear during the pre-recruitment phase is actually the foundation of their orientation and onboarding process once hired. Knowing this, how would you treat these recruits differently?  What would you say to them about your organization?

Be prepared to share at least some of the following information:

  • Upcoming, exciting employee events
  • Employee success stories that helped your customers, organization, and/or community
  • Key ways your organization contributes to the community
  • Top three reasons existing employees give about why your organization is a great place to work
  • Little known facts about your organization that are designed to impress
  • Personal benefits you’ve gained from working for your organization
  • Importance of employee development and continuous learning at your organization

First Impressions – Continued

Of course, your new employees will continue to gain first impressions once they start the job and begin the more formal part of their orientation and onboarding process. All of these ‘firsts’ need to be managed well so your new employees, after joining your organization, can say with confidence, “I made the right decision!’.

Photo Credit: Big Stock Images

Time To Proficiency: Orientation And Onboarding

How long does it take your new employees to become proficient at their jobs? How proficient do you need them to be? By when?
Even if you hire top talent who you think have the necessary job knowledge and skills, they will still experience a learning curve because of the unique requirements of their new job and your organization. There’s a learning process all new employees need to go through to achieve the required level of job proficiency.

What Is Proficiency?

Proficiency is the quality of having great facility and competence. Every job requires that certain job competencies be demonstrated to a certain level of proficiency. Competencies are a set of observable behaviors that provide a structured guide to help identify, evaluate and develop key knowledge, skills and attitudes to perform the job effectively. Some of these competencies could include communication, problem-solving, and customer service.

So, how long should it take your new employees to become competent and demonstrate the required level of job proficiency? What new knowledge and skills do they need to learn?

Identifying The Proficiency Gap

Your new employees need to take in and process a lot of information during the initial months on the job. Knowing how to accelerate the acquisition of job knowledge and skills from point ‘A’ to a higher point ‘B’ level, requires identifying your new employees’ current knowledge and skills and comparing them to their expected job performance knowledge and skills. The difference between the ‘current’ and ‘required’ knowledge and skills is called the personal job proficiency ‘gap’, i.e., what they need to be learn to become proficient in their job.

New employee job proficiency gaps can be identified by:

  1. Asking new employees to complete one or more self-assessments to assess their own job competence / proficiency level
  2. Conducting tests / quizzes to assess key knowledge and skills levels
  3. Observing (job shadowing) new employees as they perform their jobs, given specific work assignments
  4. Checking off descriptions (checklist) of what job competencies you see them demonstrate
  5. Asking your new employees specific performance assessment questions

Information Processing For Proficiency

From the first day of employment, your new employees begin comparing what is similar to or different from their previous jobs. For example, almost every job requires the use of computer systems and applications. When the computer system and applications are the same or very similar to what your new employees have used in the past, then their time to competence, or proficiency, is very fast.

Today’s software tools, of course, are better than ever at helping to measure and motive new employees and guide the onboarding process faster. Some new employees, who have limited computer expertise, may require in-depth training, reinforcement and coaching to achieve the required proficiency level. Fortunately, the top SaaS tools are pretty simple to pick up so there’s really no excuse anymore to leave the old paper based approaches to onboarding.

Organizational Language Proficiency – Terms And Acronyms

Have you ever listened to a group of your employees talk about a business challenge while standing in the hallways or during meetings? It often sounds like they are from a different planet. They are using terms that only someone from that area of your business or profession could understand.

Business-speak happens in every organization. Being oriented to a new organization means learning the organization’s language. Don’t underestimate the negative impact on your new employees’ performance when they can’t quite understand what people are saying, especially in meetings.

One of the fastest ways to achieve proficient performance is to be upfront with your new employees about the language (terms and acronyms) used in your organization. Give them access to a well-designed glossary that also includes the meaning of acronyms. Spend time explaining key terms / terminology, with examples and analogies, so they understand the key concepts used within your business or industry. The sooner they can really understand what is being said and speak the language, the faster they will demonstrate competent performance.

Time To Proficiency Advantage

Helping your new employees become proficient faster will make them more valuable to your organization. The key to achieving this result is a well-designed online orientation and onboarding process that accelerates your new employees’ time to proficiency.

Photo Credit: Big Stock Images

The Hopes And Dreams Of New Employees

High Hopes – Is Your Organization Delivering?

Every new employee has high hopes and dreams for their new job, otherwise they wouldn’t have accepted your organization’s employment offer. As an employer, your organization is offering certain things that employees’ value like good compensation, a stable work environment, an employee-centric culture, and future career growth and opportunities. The employee is offering their current and future knowledge and skills gained through education and employment experiences to further the goals and objectives of your organization.

Before the beginning of the first hour of the first day of their new job, your new employees are saying to themselves:

  • I hope I like it here.
  • I hope my new manager is good.
  • I hope I get along well with the other employees.
  • I hope I can do a good job.
  • I hope there’s a future here.
  • I hope I’ve made a good decision!!!

They’re often gambling big time about their future health, wealth and happiness when joining your organization. It’s not quite like getting married, but it is a very significant decision in their lives that can last as long as a happy marriage.

They have certain hopes and dreams about what this career transition means to them and their families. It’s also not like a purchase from a store that can be taken back the next day if they have buyer’s remorse. Your new employees are typically leaving a very well-known situation (current job/career) for a somewhat uncertain new future (new job/career) that carries a certain amount of risk.

For some of your new employees, the risks involved in changing jobs and organizations are very significant. They may need to relocate their home and family to a different city or even country for a job in a new or different industry. They may be asking themselves if it’s going to be worth the commute to a new job in an industry that can be impacted by an uncertain economy. Was it wise to accept a position working for your organization at this time in their lives? So, after making sometimes difficult job/career decisions, your new employees have high hopes in their new manager, their new job and your organization.

Hope Dashers

Unfortunately, that hope may soon be weakened or destroyed by the actions you or others take during the orientation and onboarding process. Within hours of starting the new job they may start to lose hope, especially if they:

  • Are ignored and left on their own to fend for themselves.
  • Find out that their manager is too busy or they feel like they are bothering him or her.
  • Are given work that’s not meaningful / doesn’t match what they expected based on the interviewing process.
  • Receive inadequate training and coaching support.

When someone doesn’t feel hopeful about a situation, what do they do? They start looking for ways out. They look for other options to reduce their feelings of hopelessness. New employees may start looking for another job immediately or within a couple months. Even if they stick it out, you’ve got a less motivated employee whose employment expectations have not been met.

Hope Fulfillment

Managers are the primary hope fulfillers and even hope enhancers for their new employees. They are the key to reducing new hire turnover. Their words and actions impact the ‘hope’ levels of their new employees, for better or worse.

Some of the new employee hope fulfillment activities managers can do is to:

  • Talk to their new employees. Managers need to make it a high priority to chat with their new employees about their new job expectations and experiences at the beginning and end of their first day, first week, second week, third week and first month.
  • Help them make friends. The more connected their new employees are with others in your organization, the less likely they are to feel alone.
  • Give them a well-planned orientation and onboarding process to follow. Each well thought-out learning activity is a hope fulfiller and/or enhancer.

New employees are making a significant commitment to your organization. It’s time to keep their employment hopes and dreams alive and well.

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