By Michael P. Savitt, PR/Communications Marketing Manager, HR Solutions, Inc.
As soon as employees start a new job, the clock begins ticking. An effective onboarding program is essential to quickly bring new hires up to speed on an organization’s mission, policies, objectives, systems, and daily practices, as well as ensure they can be productive as soon as possible. Surprisingly, only 60 percent of employees believe their company’s orientation program for new employees is adequate, and only 63 percent believe their organization currently provides effective on-the-job training (HR Solutions’ International Normative Database contains survey responses from more than 3.3 million employees at more than 2,400 companies and organizations across various industries).
In summer 2010, OfficeTeam, a staffing service organization specializing in the placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals on a temporary and temporary-to-full-time basis, surveyed more than 500 HR managers about their greatest staffing concern as an HR professional. Forty-five percent of HR managers said their greatest staffing concern is employee training and development, while 27 percent said retaining high performers is their top concern. These findings reveal that training is top of mind in HR departments and cannot be overlooked if companies are to keep their employees engaged, and, more importantly, retain their top talent.
Over the last few years, many companies have launched new onboarding programs to better inform, connect, and engage new hires from day one. In fact, some businesses, such as PepsiCo, are communicating with their new hires well before their first day on the job. PepsiCo launched an employee onboarding Website to help new employees familiarize themselves with the company and their role in it before their official first day on the job. New PepsiCo employees also receive a basket containing PepsiCo products so they can try them and become a brand advocate before coming onboard. This is not only a welcoming best practice, but an excellent way to create brand awareness that will directly result in brand advocacy.
Radio Flyer, one of HR Solutions’ clients, does not waste any time engaging new staff members either. On their first day, new hires receive a red welcome wagon they can take home to share with their family and friends, immediately enabling the employee to build a relationship with the brand. Other organizations, such as IBM, are engaging their new employees with a comprehensive onboarding program that goes well beyond a new employee’s first 90 days. In early 2010, IBM launched a two-year onboarding effort called Succeeding@IBM. The program comprises four phases (Discover IBM, Share and Connect, Grow My Career, and Find Support) and uses technology-based opportunities, such as live virtual classes and online communities, to build strong relationships between the company’s employees.
While onboarding is critical, it is only one component of an organization’s overall training and development program. To ensure employees’ desire for better training is aligned with HR professionals’ concern for such training, organizations must implement several best practices to assure their employees are well-trained, engaged, and ultimately satisfied with their organization’s training program, such as:
All new employees should be immersed in a well-rounded, engaging onboarding program; however, once that program ends, training cannot stop there. Regardless of what stage employees are at in their career, ongoing training is necessary to keep employees engaged, broaden their skill set, aid in professional and personal development, and enhance the linkage between each employee’s contributions and the success of the organization.
Michael P. Savitt is the PR/Communications Marketing manager at HR Solutions, Inc., a Chicago-based International Human Capital Management Consulting Firm specializing in employee engagement and exit survey design, implementation, analysis, and results. For more information, visit http://www.hrsolutionsinc.com.