What is Experience-Driven Onboarding?

Posted in Talent & Onboarding

Your onboarding program rocks!

That was the best first day at a new job I ever had.

My onboarding experience was brilliant!

We’re not in it for the praise, but you know you’re doing something right when you get comments like these.

As the phrase “experience-driven onboarding” hints, it’s all about creating engaging and memorable employee experiences when welcoming new employees. It’s about moving beyond the traditional paperwork and process-driven approach and emphasizing a greater level of interaction with employees.

Ultimately, HR leaders who are practicing experience-driven onboarding use real-time communication and personalization to build a connection between new hires and the organization.

By kickstarting the employee experience with an experience-driven onboarding program that wows, employees are inspired to reach for new heights.

But first, what is traditional onboarding and why is it broken?

We can streamline, automate and digitalize traditional onboarding processes to make it easier from an organizational standpoint.

But this doesn’t solve the core issue: traditional onboarding is driven by an outdated mindset. It’s a top-down approach that is all about legal and compliance obligations, paperwork, and processes.

Don’t get us wrong. These things are important. But focusing solely on organization readiness means many onboarding programs disregard the new hire’s experience, expectations, and job-readiness.

And we’re not just saying this. Thanks to outdated onboarding methods, and engagement-shy HR practices, this is the state of the workplace today:

  • Up to 20% of new hires leave within 45 days
  • Globally, the average rate of employee disengagement is 35%
  • A 2008  IDC study found the US and UK alone spent $37 billion annually to keep unproductive employees who don’t understand their job!
  • New hires need a minimum of 1 to 2 months before they are fully trained, comfortable, and productive (for poorly onboarded hire, this period is 6-9 months or longer

Experience-Driven onboarding is a fundamental step towards improving employee engagement – from Day Minus 30 and up.

With great experience comes great expectations

Have you noticed the millions of User Experience (UX) roles popping up, like, everywhere?

There isn’t a product or website in the world today that hasn’t been through rigorous UX testing.

Big companies understand if their product is crap or their buying experience is crap, consumers will ditch their brand in a heartbeat and not ever look back. There’s always someone better.

So, we can thank the Amazons, the Ubers, and the Airbnbs for revolutionizing our consumer experience. Shopping is now more personalized, more relevant and more streamlined than ever before.

Here’s the thing: employees are also consumers. It’s only inevitable that we’d compare our consumer experience with our employee experience.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a big-box retailer is better at engaging with us than our employer.

What usually happens with onboarding…

  • Minus 30 Days: Contract is signed
  • Minus 7 Days: Manager/Recruiter Sends employee welcome email and Day 1 instructions
  • Day 1:
    • Employee arrives and is introduced to the team
    • Employee is shown their desk
    • Employee is provided a WH&S floor tour
    • Employee is registered for corporate induction session or instructed to complete the online modules
    • Employee is left a pile of paperwork to complete and sign: bank account details, superannuation, IT access request, asset requests, etc
    • Employee is shown the network directory and handover notes to familiarise themselves with
  • Week 1: Employee scrambles to complete all necessary corporate learning modules
  • Day 30: Manager invites employee to their first 1:1 performance review
  • Day 90: Manager invites employee to their probationary period performance review

We’re *so excited* just thinking about it. Umm.

Here’s what experience-driven onboarding looks like.


Wanna give experience-driven onboarding a go instead?

The 3 Rules of Experience-Driven Onboarding

#1. It’s all about the employee

If you find yourself asking, ‘How can I save myself some time on paperwork here?’, then you are approaching the issue from the wrong angle.

A better question might be, ‘What can we do to minimise the amount of paperwork our new hires need to churn through?’

The more you understand their mindset and journey pain points, the more you can provide a genuine and energising experience.

#2 Don’t forget to pre-board

OK. Pre-boarding is the crucial period of time before the employee starts when they’re second guessing their decision, panicking about fitting in, panicking about doing a good job in the role, panicking about wearing the wrong outfit to the office (maybe).

If left unchecked, there could be a whole lot of uncertainty and buyer’s remorse going on on here, and this is a really risky part of the timeline, especially if you fail to maintain their emotional momentum.

Logistically speaking, Day 1 will go much better If you take the pre-boarding period to welcome them to the team, drip feed useful details about the organization, introduce them to key personnel, and prepare them to start in their role.

#3 Keep it comin’

Onboarding doesn’t end at Week 1, Month 1, or when the induction checklist runs out of empty boxes. The first three to six months are when new hires are most vulnerable and likely to leave if they’re not feelin’ all the feels. If you want to keep your new hires engaged, then you gotta keep the conversation going with regular communication and feedback events. Build on their initial emotional momentum and ensure they continue feeling valued and aligned with the business.

5 benefits of experience-driven onboarding

Our clients have experienced some jaw-dropping bottom-line results since introducing engagement onboarding. But here’s a shortlist of the benefits to your business:

#1 You create a human onboarding experience

With an experience-driven onboarding program, you can automate tasks, drip feed paperwork and corporate learning (pre-start), and schedule communication between HR, managers, IT, payroll, and the employee throughout onboarding, and free everyone up for more meaningful face-to-face interactions where it counts.

#2 You learn more about the employee

As experience-driven onboarding is focused on the employee, you’re able to ask them questions about personal and professional strengths, experiences, drivers, expectations, and personal interests during pre-boarding so you can help them put their strengths to use in their role, and empower them to make the role their own. These genuine conversations help provide you with necessary insight and foster connection.

#3 You speed up socialisation

We all want to fit in, especially at the place where we spend a third of our lives! Studies have shown when employees feel socially accepted and integrated in their workplace, they’re more likely to succeed, in part, because they know who to reach out to for help and guidance. A well-designed onboarding program can speed up integration by communicating workplace values and customs, encouraging introductions, and by informally introducing the manager and team during pre-boarding.

#4 You increase engagement and productivity

At this point, your new hire feels connected to their team, their manager, their role, and their new employer and they haven’t even started! When people feel comfortable and confident and valued, they’re more engaged and productive in the workplace.

#5 You boost your employer brand

A happy and engaged employee who’s been surprised and delighted with a charismatic onboarding experience is your biggest brand ambassador. More than a consumer, engaged employees are loyal supporters of your brand and will shout it loud from your rooftop garden for all to hear. Which means – better quality applicants next time you need to recruit, faster time to fill, lower recruitment costs, and lower employee turnover.

It’s time to create a more personal, more memorable onboarding experience.

Any attempts to improve onboarding so far have been driven by a want to streamline processes and reduce paperwork time, which still doesn’t seem like a very employee-focused mindset! So, if you truly care about your employees’ experience, you need to block out half a day and workshop it out with HR and your hiring managers.

Here’s how our client VAMP designed their mind-blowingly awesome experience-driven onboarding program in one afternoon

Enboarder is changing the way the world onboards their new employees – we’re the first and only experience-driven onboarding platform. So, if you want to wow your new hires with a rich and consistent, personalised onboarding experience, get in touch!

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