5 Employee Onboarding Trends and Tips

Posted in Best Practice

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At Enboarder, we’re always looking at emerging trends around onboarding, to be able to understand the most effective practices that will have the biggest impact. We’ve compiled 5 trends that we’re seeing as crucial in creating an effective onboarding program.

1. Personalisation

Personalisation is about making the new hire feel like their expertise, preferences and interests have been taken into account in almost every aspect of their onboarding. How do you personalise an onboarding experience you ask? We see this being based around presenting information that is specific to the new hire (i.e. his/her particular location and the specific role in the organisation) at the right moment in time.

Organisations need to figure out the business processes and experiences to which a new hire is exposed, determine which have an impact on success or failure, distinguish which of these make sense to try to influence and which the new hire or hiring manager alone can more efficiently address, and then design an approach for exercising that influence.

Methods to personalise:

  • E- Employee Orientation. Employee orientation is all about acquainting the employee with his workplace surroundings, practices, processes and colleagues. For a prospective employee one of the most overwhelming parts of onboarding is getting to know all the new faces. A video introduction guide allows new employees to review who’s who even before joining and helps employees to easily connect with their co-workers and adapt within the organisation effortlessly.
  • Mentorship or buddy programs will deliver a personalised experience. Each mentor and buddy will have been specifically selected to meet the new-employee’s needs.
  • Most sign-up forms ask for basic user information, such as name, role, and company. Ask for personal information like hobbies, preferred snacks, strengths, who they are when they are at their best. Have their favourite snack on their desk on day 1, or take them out to their favourite lunch spot.
  • Use personalised greetings to welcome new-hires (This is relevant for bulk hires)
    Use fun, engaging language. If you have offices across the world having different languages available will be a winning tactic.
  • Use location-based personalisation to improve the experience for employees’ in all offices.
  • Individuals have different preferences when it comes to training methods or learning new material. Offer some alternatives (Some employees may find it boring to sit through lectures, while others will value the opportunity to ask questions of the lecturer. Others may prefer to read through materials at their own pace).
  • Gifts and Treats - giving small gifts or treats to new hires based on their personality (personalised name tags and had all of their paperwork divided into easy-to-navigate sections).
  • Ask them to send you a photo and write a paragraph about their background to share internally with the team. You can create an employee page with all employees bios and personal interests.
  • Get creative with video greetings and scavenger hunts.
  • Ask the receptionist or security guard to greet them warmly, and have someone personally escort them from the door into the office.
  • Make every effort to have their workstation set up before they arrive.

2. Cultural Assimilation

People fail in new jobs because of poor fit, poor delivery or poor adjustment to changes down the road. Your onboarding program should accommodate their needs (so they can do real work), assimilate them into the organisation (so they fit culturally) and accelerate their progress (so they can deliver and adjust).

Methods for cultural assimilation:

  • Create your own initiation ritual. These have important psychological effects on both the new team member and the original team members. Studies and theories in this area give support to the idea that teams that have had strong initiation rituals feel greater group identity and a stronger sense of belonging to the team. Welcome breakfast/drinks with the whole team...a Friday welcome party...Wednesday welcome donuts...first day hello tours...the ideas are endless.
  • Assigning a buddy. A buddy represents the values, beliefs and implicit rules of your company. Assign a veteran employee to plan a welcome event and to introduce the new employee to the office. Ask the buddy to connect with the new employee weekly for the first month to see what their needs are, and at least monthly during the first six months. Reward the veteran with protected time from her duties in order to complete this task.
  • Storytelling can be a particularly powerful method to ensure a new employee is immersed in the culture. This about videos of employees, scenario-based learning and leadership presentations.
  • Providing coaches and guides that offer advice, a sounding board, political and social support, and job instruction
  • Online discussion groups (communities) that continue beyond onboarding.
  • Introduce them to the organisation’s history and culture through a series of conversations with the founders and key managers at the corporate headquarters.
    Provide guides on work processes and work behaviours to make sure that the employee clearly understands what the expectations are.

3. Social Networking

Social enterprise software opens up opportunities for new hires to connect with other staff, learn more about the business, post pictures or videos, talk about interests and hobbies, get advice, and build networks all before they even start their job on day one - all in a much less formal, more inviting way.

Methods for social networking:

  • Start communication with the new hire early - don’t wait for their first day. Think about engaging with your new hire on social. LinkedIn is a great platform for this.
  • Brief your team on the new hire before they start.
  • Social channels like Facebook and Whatsapp can help the new hire in building strong relationships within the organisation and facilitate the effective integration of the new hire into the organisational setup.
  • Access to information from social media channels in compliance with the laws of the land and the organisation helps the organisation to build a customised onboarding plan for the new hire keeping in mind his/her likes and dislikes, value systems, mental makeup, and background.
  • Choose an internal social platform that facilitates onboarding - think Slack or Workspace.
  • Promote new hires on your external social media accounts.
  • Encourage employees to act as brand ambassadors.

4. Automation & Data Driven Improvements

Improving onboarding efficiencies will help accelerate new hire productivity. Onboarding technologies are becoming increasingly flexible and easy to use. They allow for less admin work to take place, and allow more focus on the experience that an employee goes through.

Methods for automation and data-driven improvements:

  • It’s crucial to ensure that both qualitative and quantitative data is available (and understood!) to make sound decisions on what is and isn’t working. The team should frequently examine existing processes and ensure they are optimised.
  • Artificial Intelligence. HR must learn and prepare to instruct others on the benefits of technology and how to use it to improve productivity and business results. These tools have gone way beyond mere automation and now employ new technologies, bringing a human-like touch but at a scale and speed previously not possible. Millennials and Generation Z form an increasingly large part of our workforce today. This tech-savvy workforce is used to never shut-off, hence they look forward to technology to enable and assist them as they work through the process on their own terms.
  • Paperless & mobile-friendly experiences. By using paperless forms of technology or apps, an employee can remotely and seamlessly manage this process, allowing them to spend more time focusing on understanding the work requirements and meeting their new colleagues and making important relationships.
  • Onboarding digital tactics (visual and audio components, where to go on day one, including a Google map, virtual office tour) are a great way to provide an engaging, interactive experience.

5. Experience scaling

The concept that the onboarding experience is completed after an employee’s first day or week with the business is a common misconception. Because the journey is much longer, it’s crucial to think about ways to enable engaging experiences to be rolled out at scale.

Methods for scaling:

  • By examining each process and function within the onboarding program, certain commonalities will begin to emerge across the entire organisation. These commonalities can make up the foundation of the onboarding program as it scales from a personalised program for a single new-hire to a full-fledged strategic and systemic approach.
  • The experience for new hires shouldn’t be limited to days or weeks, it should start at offer acceptance and continue through the span of the entire first year of employment or a complete business cycle (whichever is longer for the organisation). Think about including probation and annual reviews in the journey.
  • The onboarding process should be kept as simple as possible and not job specific. This means that while a company should provide information that the new hire needs to know to become a new employee, it is not necessary to overload them with too much information. It is also important to simplify the process for the HR personnel who will maintain the process. Some systems allow for personalisation using logic based scenarios, to allow for different content to be served to a new hire depending on a chosen set of criteria (location, team etc.)