How Technology Can Save Onboarding

March 31, 20157:02 am
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The latest research suggests that onboarding may be the most critical time in an employee’s experience at a company — one that has a long-lasting impact on engagement, performance, and retention.

Too many new hires slip away because of a poor initial experience with their new companies. Consider the following statistics, which represent broad data in the United States:

The problem is that managers’ lives are busier than ever, so it’s simply not that easy to make sure an employee’s first few months at your company are as welcoming, stimulating, and productive as possible. Ineffective onboarding has been a systemic challenge for as long as I can remember.

Kristin Yetto, SVP HR of eBay, is pointing out “When employees get off on the wrong foot at a corporation, it can have major implications for [their] long-term integration.” The unfortunate reality, as Kristin and many of her colleagues in HR know all too well, is that most companies — by their own admission — pay negligible attention to the onboarding process:

onboarding

 

One of the greatest obstacles to effective onboarding is the time (or lack thereof) managers have to properly assess, coach, and engage their new talent. But digital behavioural assessments and interventions can help you focus on improving and measuring employee behaviours across 40 focus areas related to:

  • Job specific knowledge and skills
  • Core role competencies
  • Relational integration with the team
  • Work habit improvement

Digital onboarding tools can help managers collect leading indicators of success — such as faster ramp to productivity, greater retention rates, and higher employee engagement. Think of it as “telemetry for the workforce,” where a desktop interface makes it easy for managers to know what to do at every step of the onboarding process, as well as the right time to do it.

There are several digital onboarding tools available: Yoi, Workday and Cornerstone OnDemand. Those platforms are helping HR professionals to an ever-expanding catalog of aggregated high-return practices and assessments, which measure how effectively the new talent is being onboarded.

The Manager’s Role

Managers also have the ability to customise the delivery of these assignments and assessments, as well as the language used, via templates for each and every new hire. As the catalogue of assignments and assessments grows over time, it becomes increasingly validated by an expanding community of users.

In the past, a new employee in her second month on the job would have been directed to attend an e-learning course teaching the importance of having “crucial conversations,” such as asking for feedback.

In contrast, a digital tool might direct the individual to “reach out to your Onboarding Buddy and ask for feedback on your recent job performance.” In other words, rather than hear about the importance of crucial conversations, new talent actually has one.

Let’s take an example from some companies who are using Yoi. Newly hired employees there (new “talent” as we refer to them) are ramping to productive contribution more effectively and more efficiently than ever before.

Based on these results, they also expect to see a measurable increase in the engagement of participating employees, which they can track through assessments.

Feedback and support is delivered not only to the talent, but also to a network of trusted ‘assessors’, including their manager, Onboarding Buddy, and new teammates.

These platforms are also helping to assure managers and HR alike that new hires are hitting all the necessary benchmarks, while providing a much more consistent onboarding experience — especially for teams working in remote locations. It also helps to increase transparency, while streamlining communication between managers and new employees.

It’s important not to think of digital onboarding tools as a replacement for human interaction. These tools are meant to support and encourage users — both manager and employee alike — to form productive, long-lasting relationships with all of their new colleagues.

See: Onboarding is not just for employees anymore

The original article first appeared on Harvard Business Review.