Here’s a question for you. How many of your work colleagues are ‘new’?
New in what sense you might ask. Let’s say…new in the sense that they're not yet fully functioning, value-adding members of the company.
5%? 10%? Do you formally onboard employees to a new role when they're not "new"?
It may surprise you to know that approximately 25% of all workers are organizational newcomers engaged in some form of onboarding process. Roughly speaking one quarter of everyone you work with is busy trying to make themselves insiders rather than outsiders. They're doing what they can, with what they're given, to be one of the gang. It’s like school all over again only without the nightmare that is puberty.
Another question. If you had to rate your onboarding experience where would it feature on a scale of 1 to 10 - one being ‘I was repeatedly spat at’ and ten being ‘they gave me an iPad, a crown and bowed before me’?
Unfortunately, looking at recent research it’s more likely you'll score closer to the former because as few as 37% of organizations claim to be running a formal onboarding program for more than the last two years. Maybe we should all start wearing wipe-clean fabrics?
With an increasingly global and mobile workforce the competitive advantage that can be gained with an effective onboarding process is there for the taking. Done well, onboarding can make people feel more satisfied with their job and help them to perform better – faster. They will be more likely to demonstrate a greater commitment to the organization and have less intent to quit. All helpful stuff when you've spent valuable time, money and effort finding and signing them in the first place.
Onboarding employees to a new role vs. onboarding new hires
So how do you do it? More importantly, how do you do it well? Whilst a shiny silver laptop and box of mini cupcakes might project a certain welcoming image, on their own, they’re not enough to make a truly lasting impression. The joy of opening untouched electrical equipment fades just as quickly as the sugar rush.
The good news is that the building blocks of any effective onboarding framework - whether it's a new hire or an existing employee onboarding to a new role - are relatively similar regardless of the size, nature or industry of your organization. We all need to be told about the company structure, processes, strategies and culture.
Who's in charge?
The bad news is that ownership of onboarding as a people activity is often complicated, and this is even more true when you're transitioning employees to a new role within the organiation. Line Managers, HR and Marketing play a never ending game of pass the parcel until the ‘winner’ feels dumped upon when the music stops. In addition, many businesses fail to invest in the resources that can traditionally be needed to manage the constant cycle of new starters – resulting in that classic phrase ‘we recognize it’s important but we're really busy with other stuff.’ It's just as vital to onboard employees to a new role as it is to onboard them when they first join your organization.