Preferred on-boarding.

I love terms like “on-boarding;” you know, those words that we in the business refer to as a “Sasquatch” idea [as in, a lot of people believe in it, but nobody’s actually seen it.] Used to be a novel concept, and/or one reserved for executive hires ~ great efforts were made to make the incoming employee comfortable (and the spouse, don’t forget the spouse), to feel welcome, and to be shepherded through the internal morass for several months after Day 1 of their employment.

The bigger, more comprehensive concept of  employee on-boarding programs has really caught fire in the last decade. Sometimes, that’s a fancy word for “new hire orientation,” sometimes it’s part of the sales job given by Staffing (“What???? The hell you say?”,) and sometimes it’s just lip service. But what makes on-boarding an effective initiative as it relates to the key objective, i.e. DOES IT make the employee more productive, more quickly?

I can offer an opinion on a few ways to enhance your current program, or if you’d like to take the bull by the horns and start your own version of on-boarding:

  • Self Awareness ~ Spend some quality “me time,” assuming that the “me” in this scenario is the company. What is the company really all about? Don’t sell what you ain’t.
  • Prioritize ~ You’ll find 100 things to define your company, your culture, your SOP’s; narrow the focus to the top 10 “non-negotiables.” The things that are critical to existence in this environment, and are in no way going to change any time soon.
  • Delegate ~  HR usually finds the On-boarding process dumped in their lap; that’s not necessarily a bad thing if it comes with the authority to share the load – and that includes the inbound employee. A new hire shares responsibility in his or her assimilation; don’t hesitate to engage them in preliminary work needed to hit the ground running. Imagine the time & money you would save the company by identifying a lack of engagement before the employee sets foot on-site?!

One final note about taking ownership of this initiative; a true, robust On-boarding “program” is a pretty intensive and comprehensive piece of work. It may not be something that can be implemented in a short time, nor will it happen without significant push from leadership in Human Resources. The three bullets I provided can be assumed by the individual, any individual, who has an interest in the successful hiring, performance, and retention of new employees. The time is well spent, the employee and the company benefit immensely from the effort, you just might earn yourself (and Human Resources) further involvement in the strategic direction of the business.

John “Whit” Whitaker is Founder of the HR Hardball™ Straight talk, no-nonsense approach to workplace issues. 

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