The Horror… The Terror… The Onboarding! Stories to tell around the business campfire

Posted by Amy Bybee on September 22, 2016
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Onboarding stories

One of the top priorities for all organizations is to stand out. Whether they make the best products, offer the best service or simply have a brand that is well known and recognized, they want to be remembered (preferably fondly). But how often is it a company’s goal to be most remembered for their hiring experiences? Organizations want to keep and develop the talent that will bring the most growth and success to the organization, right? Then why is it that one third of new employees are job searching again within their first 6 months?

Onboarding, or how a new hire gets adjusted to the social and performance aspects of his or her job, plays a large role. Thirty-five percent of organizations admit to spending no money on an onboarding program, and that can be devastating. Here are stories of a brave few that had to endure less than ideal onboarding situations.

Kelly was offered the opportunity to take part in a management program with a new company. She thought she would be given the tools and knowledge to rise through the ranks and quickly become an important asset to the large retail chain. Unfortunately, this chain made the devastating mistake many organizations still make to this day, giving an immense amount of information with little or no explanation. “There would be new product in the store almost every week, therefore we would have onboard product training every week, but this training was never embraced by floor people or higher ups. They wanted to get people on the floor selling as fast as possible, so it didn’t matter if they understood the product or the business as a whole. All they wanted was for us to check the boxes or fill out the form that said we had watched a video.” This seems an odd training plan for supposedly putting someone on the fast track.

Then there’s Ian. Ian was given a grand welcome when he started at his new accounting firm. He was taken to lunch, introduced to the president and given a tour where he got to smile and wave at everybody. And for the first week, people stopped by his desk with greeting, asking how he liked the new job. Unfortunately, this was all they asked. It was never “Are you getting the hang of things? Is there anything you don’t understand? Do you know how to access the right files?” As with most new jobs, Ian did have questions pertinent to getting his work done. But nobody seemed to have the time for him. “I felt everyone got so busy with their own work that I was shoved to the side and neglected a little bit. No one was strictly in charge of taking care of onboarding and new hires, so I had to try and find the right people to answer my questions for myself.” Ian’s not the first to become a ghost drifting through his organization, and he won’t be the last.

It's no surprise that 1 out of 25 people will leave a new job simply because the organization has poor onboarding in place. The solution is to build an onboarding program that is effective, fun, and most important engaging.

Ian’s accounting firm did have a good start. They provided a warm welcome. The first rule of effective onboarding is that a welcome should stand out to new hires. It gives them their first impression of the company and should convey how valued they are as a new member.

Second, although it sounds like a common solution, onboarding needs to be productive and relevant. Onboarding is, as I said, an introduction and immersion into a new company. It needs to have an exploration of the organization’s culture and the business of the business, in addition to introducing HR, IT and logistical topics. Make sure they know exactly where they fit in their specific role so they feel like an integral part of the team.

Finally, it’s not just onboarding, it’s “BeyondBoarding.” Depending on a new hire’s role, ramping up into full productivity and the culture of the organization can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. For most, the first year of a new employee’s experience sets the foundation for success. Take the time. Don’t rush talent; build it. Conduct follow up meetings, give refreshers on content, and get their input. Organizations that invest in their people produce more profit and growth.

Onboarding is vital in teaching new hires about the mission, vision, values and culture of an organization. To ensure it is effective, avoid the common pitfalls and give each and every employee - whether they are brand new or transferring into a new role or department – the start they need for a successful path. No organization wants a horror story of people walking in and right back out a revolving door.

Topics: Onboarding, Human Resources