A world of pure imagination
Is your onboarding strategy really up to scratch?
The first day of a new job can seem like walking into an unknown world; full of strange nuances and cultures that you must navigate with caution. It’s essential you don’t upset the new business’ delicate ecosystem, that you abide by the rules and cement your place in the mainframe without pushing the wrong buttons. That’s why onboarding, as a process in the HR function, is so intrinsically important.
“Welcome my friends, welcome to my chocolate factory.”
So, how can your HR departments ensure that you’re fulfilling all your key responsibilities? Well, speaking to Hilary Scarlett, an international speaker, consultant and author, she tells us that onboarding should take on a “brain-based perspective”. She explains: “Neuroscience is all about performance. We all have good days and bad days at work – what makes the difference? How do we help employees have more good days at work? Days where they can think, innovate and collaborate at their best. In particular, how do we ensure that new employees and new members of the team quickly feel that they can be productive and contribute? One of the areas that we hugely underestimate in organisations is people’s need for social connection. We ‘get it’ in our personal lives, that relationships matter, and that, on the whole, life is good, and we can focus our energies on being constructive. But, somehow, we expect employees to turn off this need as they walk through the workplace door: we expect them to be ‘professional’ and that relationships should not matter in quite the same way.”
“Oh, you should never, never doubt what nobody is sure about.”
And, as Scarlett eludes to, it’s unfair to expect employees to start being someone different at work compared to how they are at home. Onboarding is that critical link between the two worlds - those first moments of contact can make or break a candidate's career. Like Charlie walking into the Chocolate Factory, the new hire will be faced with a selection of confusing and overwhelming experiences, ones that can lead to alienation if HR isn’t on hand to lend a comforting ear. Leaders may expect new starters to hit the ground running, and in certain terms they should, however by skipping over a proper introduction and onboarding process you run the risk of losing top talent. What with soaring costs of recruitment and increased panic over retention rates, we’re not in the economic position to start flagging at the finish line. Robert Stone, Group Head of Talent at McCANN Worldgroup, agrees, telling us that firms need to start owning up to their responsibilities during the onboarding stage. “Businesses need to evolve and adapt to the realistic pressures of a new and faster paced working environment,” he explains. “The future of onboarding is actually pre-boarding. I define pre-boarding as the duration between an official offer to the moment a candidate walks into the office for their first day. All industries are currently facing the most challenging times in relation to attracting and obtaining great talent.
“Most candidates have multiple offers on the table at any one time, meaning that you need to keep candidates engaged and assured that they are making the correct career move. The pre-boarding phase can be as creative as you like. This can include simple things such as regular meet ups or larger investments such as industry events and conferences, training and learning and creating personal development plans.”
“I am the maker of music, the dreamer of dreams!”
Making improvements to your onboarding process might seem laborious, but when you consider that the same level of effort is applied to recruitment and brand awareness, it’s a process in HR that needs more attention. Fiona Regan, People Development Director at Revolution Bars Group, adds credence to this notion, revealing how onboarding can actually attract future talent: “The onboarding process is essential in helping the new starter to navigate through their first few months with the organisation. Often a candidate starts to idealise what their transition into a new job will be like. Our process is built on helping them to make sure that they don’t just get engrossed in the excitement and challenge of the new job but that they see their onboarding as stages within at least a 90-day plan.
“Our induction for managers takes new starters through our company purpose, vision and values as we want to make sure we clearly explain why these are so important to the culture of the team and provide time to really discuss what these mean. In addition, there is a practical session where a manager develops a structured 90-day plan. This makes sure they consider how to adapt to a new manager, a new team and to find ways to manage a range of stakeholders. It looks at their manager, team, the culture and the organisation. An area of improvement I plan on building is in what more can be done between the offer being accepted and the new person starting with the company, to continue to engage them during that time whilst waiting to join the new role.”
So, whenever in doubt regarding improving, changing and generally overhauling your onboarding strategy, just Remember Roald Dahl’s sage advice: “However small the chance might be of striking lucky, the chance is there.”