By Mark Scullard, Director of Research, and Jeffrey Sugerman, President and CEO, Inscape Publishing
Imagine this: It’s your first day of work at a new job. You’ve been trying to get hired by this company for a long time, and you’re excited to be working there. Someone you’ve never been introduced to comes out to meet you in the lobby. This person then takes you to an empty workspace: no computer, no phone, not even a pen in sight. Then you see your boss—the one who hired you—and she seems confused that you’re there. She’s not sure what happened, but one thing is clear: Your first day isn’t going how you thought it would.
Now clearly this scenario is an extreme example of what could go wrong in the onboarding process. Most of us wouldn’t forget to have a computerready to go for a new hire on the first day. The point here is that onboarding practices matter.
Companies that are focused on increasing employee engagement have come to understand that the seeds of a new employee’s commitment to the organization are sown during the first few weeks on the job. As a result, new employee onboarding practices have evolved from the days of being escorted to an empty workspace, handed an employee manual, and given a cursory tour of the facility.
We were curious about which onboarding practices make a real difference, so we asked both employees and HR professionals to weigh in on what contributes most to onboarding success.
Wisdom of the HR Pros
In addition to learner feedback, we also went to the experts—an HR professionals group on LinkedIn—and asked about onboarding best practices. Over the next few days, we had a lively discussion about why onboarding is important and how to do it. Here are a few ideas:
We surveyed 2,829 recent training participants about onboarding in their current company. People who received a summary of the organization’s missionsaid they were able to “significantly contribute to the organization” four weeks earlier (on average) than those who did not. They also were able to figure out how important decisions got made in the organization six weeks earlier than those who did not.
Likewise, people who had a thorough overview of their job responsibilities from another personfelt they were able to “significantly contribute” 25 days earlier than those who did not. They also were able to figure out “how important decisions got made in the organization” 37 days earlier than those who did not.
This suggests that people who do well are given information about the structure of their organization or department as part of their onboarding practice. However, it also may be that new employees thrive because their organizations/departments actually have a clear vision of where they are headed and the new employee’s role within that vision. That is, the presence of these onboarding practices may be the hallmarks of an organization with a clear, well-articulated vision.
You Never Get a Second Chance…
While we can debate the merits of different practices and strategies for onboarding, one thing everyone can agree on is its importance. Onboarding is the first impression your company makes to a new employee, and first impressions are important. Effective onboarding is essential for employee engagement and performance—which is essential to the company’s success, as well.
Mark Scullard is the director of research at Inscape Publishing, a provider of training materials for the corporate market. He has more than a decade of research and data analysis experience in the development of psychological evaluation tools and methods. Scullard received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota, with a supporting program in statistics.
Jeffrey Sugerman is the president and CEO of Inscape Publishing. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior management, marketing, and business development in the technology, training, and publishing industries. Sugerman holds doctorate and master’s degrees in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northwestern University.
Scullard and Sugerman are the co-authors of “The 8 Dimensions of Leadership: DiSC Strategies for Becoming a Better Leader.”