Welcoming key rings & cupcakes – The importance of #onboarding

I do enjoy a LinkedIn post with a picture of a desk covered in cupcakes and merchandise.  It is usually tagged with a gushing, “Thank you to my new team, for making me feel so welcome on my first day”.   The power of getting Onboarding right…. get it wrong or ignore its value at your peril!

A study of 264 new employees by the Academy of Management Journal found that the 1st 90 days of employment were pivotal in building rapport with the company, leadership and colleagues.  When perceived and actual levels of support were high, the new hires showed more positive attitudes towards their role and the organisation, and were more productive.  When the contrary approach of little to no support was noted, the study showed unhappy, unproductive employees who were less likely to make it past the 4 month mark.  So this is common sense, yes?  Welcome your new hires properly and make them feel part of a team and they will flourish.  It all appears to be quite simple, so where are businesses going wrong?

Michael Falcon says that Onboarding is “the design of what your employees feel, see and hear after they’ve been hired”.  Often companies confuse this with induction training which, whilst an important part of the Onboarding process, doesn’t represent it entirely.

Cupcakes are all very nice and good but to get your hires really on-board they need to:

P  Feel they are a valued member of the team bringing appreciated skills.

P  Feel they are a vital cog in the machine of the organisation.

P  Feel aligned to the aims of the organisation and their team.

P  Share the values of the organisation, feel that the team and organisation ‘walk that way’ as well as ‘talk that way’.

P  Feel that the validation of all of the above is authentic!

In terms of human behaviour this should be common sense, to make someone feel valued and that they belong, however lazy induction programmes with the explicit premise of ticking those HR boxes can be demoralizing to all involved.  A well thought-out and user centric Onboarding programme should not just include the delivery of a prescriptive list of ‘dos and don’ts’, rules and expectations.   Your Onboarding programme should be robust; starting from when interested people see the advertisement for the role.  The application process is an often neglected area and we all know the power of 1st impressions, both positive and negative.  This then should continue through your fair selection process, ensuring that you are ‘walking your why’ and illustrating how your company values are ingrained in all that you do.  This builds your employer brand and will make the Onboarding once your new hires start a continuation of recruitment best practice.  Not only will you keep your new hires but in the application process you will ensure that you attract the best talent for your organisation and make a real connection with those whose values align with the organisation’s.

These have been my initial thoughts on Onboarding.  Please feel free to share your experiences and thoughts.  Best wishes Natalie.