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Maximize Employee Success through Onboarding

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Maximize Employee Success Through Onboarding

A properly designed and executed onboarding process can increase productivity and commitment levels in new hires.

BY JUSTIN WILKINS

At the start of every basketball season, the legendary UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden taught his players the right way to put on their socks and shoes. Everyone on the team had to master that basic skill before they were allowed to participate in any drills. Coach Wooden told his players, "Blisters are going to make you lose playing time, and if you're good enough, your loss of playing time might get the coach fired."

Coach Wooden knew that the level of success his players achieved on the court was directly tied to his own success as a coach. His training methods gave players a solid foundation upon which successful college basketball careers could be built. He understood the importance of onboarding long before that term was used in the business world.

What Is Onboarding?

Onboarding, otherwise known as organizational socialization, is a structured process of welcoming new employees to a company. An onboarding plan should provide more than simple job orientation and training. The process should also offer mentoring, support and information about the company culture and organizational structure. Onboarding programs should be designed to teach all the foundational basics a person needs to know in order to achieve success with their new employer.

Implementing an onboarding program does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. In fact, the process can save time and money in the long run. How much time did your company spend recruiting, interviewing and hiring your five most recent hires? If all five employees are still with your company after 12 months, you are off to an above-average start. Of those five employees, how many do you wish were performing at a higher level? Research data indicates that many companies end up dissatisfied with the performance level of new employees. A properly designed and executed onboarding process can reverse that trend by increasing productivity and commitment levels in new hires. It can also decrease employee turnover rates.

Research shows that up to 25 percent of the working population undertakes a career transition every year. It has also been shown that the four most challenging changes a person can make in life are getting married, buying a house, having a child and changing jobs. Changing jobs can be a stressful, emotional experience. If you're not prepared to ease the transition for your new employees, those workers will be more likely to have one foot out the door within the first 12 months. By creating a comprehensive onboarding process, you will make new employees feel less stress and more loyalty while cultivating their talents.

Implementing a Plan

Onboarding should start during the recruiting phase. Be prepared to answer any questions that your prospective new hires might have throughout the interview process. Keep candidates informed every step of the way. This demonstrates that your company is well organized and supportive. When an individual accepts a position, maintain communication with that person right up until his or her start date. This will help new employees feel welcomed and better prepared when they arrive for their first day of work.

On an employee's first day at the office, he or she should begin a comprehensive orientation program that goes beyond teaching employee handbook basics. Of course, new hires will still need to learn about items such as your dress code, parking information and how to log in to the computer system. But more than that, tell them about the resources that are available to help them. Establish a mentorship/coaching program. You may even want to consider creating a leadership rotation for new college graduates. Make sure that your onboarding process gives new hires every opportunity to learn and gain confidence. Make your expectations clear and offer support every step of the way. Sink or swim mentality can lead to drowning.

Establishing an onboarding program in your company can minimize the amount of time it takes for new employees to reach their full potential, while also increasing their loyalty to the company. Just as Coach Wooden realized that teaching his players to put on their socks and shoes made him a more successful coach, your company can achieve more success by teaching your new team members all the foundational basics.

Justin Wilkins is Market Leader at Kimmel & Associates, available on the web at www.kimmel.com.

 
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