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Why You Need to be Thinking About Your Organization's Onboarding

Companies overlook the strength and effectiveness of their onboarding programs at their own peril.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
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This year's Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Conference will feature an all-day preconference section on Tuesday, Nov. 28, which will feature hands-on, three-hour-long workshops presented by experts on a variety of recruiting-related topics, including sourcing techniques, candidate-relationship management and onboarding. The onboarding workshop, "You've Hired the Best Talent: Don't Lose Them Because of Bad Onboarding," will be presented by Sharlyn Lauby, an author, writer, former HR practitioner, speaker and consultant who writes the popular HR Bartender blog. She is president of ITM Group Inc., a consulting firm focused on developing training solutions that engage and retain talent in the workplace. The company has been named one of the Top Small Businesses in South Florida.

HR Bartender, which Sharlyn describes as "a friendly place to talk about workplace issues," has been recognized as one of the "Top 5 Blogs HR Pros Love to Read" by the Society for Human Resource Management. Sharlyn has just released her second book, "Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success," following the popularity of  her first book, "Essential Meeting Blueprints for Managers," which is available on Amazon. She previously served as a member of SHRM’s Membership Advisory Committee and Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility special expertise panel, and has held HR leadership roles at Right Management Consultants, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Her personal goal in life is "to find the best cheeseburger on the planet" (a worthy goal indeed!).

We recently caught up with Sharlyn to ask her some questions about the state of onboarding today and why recruiters and talent acquisition leaders need to be concerned about it.


Can you describe the worst onboarding experience you ever had -- or, a very poor onboarding experience that you witnessed?

I believe one of the worst things companies can do is promote the most technically competent person and not give them the tools for success. Sad to say, I've worked for companies that did this. Fortunately, we recognized the error of our ways and developed onboarding programs that helped new hires become productive and successful. We also extended it to existing employees when they were transferred or promoted.

How does bad onboarding hurt organizations?

Onboarding is about first impressions. Good onboarding experiences are about new hires being excited that they're joining the company. It's about the company being excited to share its story with a new employee. When onboarding works, employees quickly become productive and that leads to engagement and high performance.

On the other hand, bad onboarding doesn't excite the employee. This can lead to employee disengagement, lower productivity and poor performance. All of this impact the company's bottom-line.

Are there certain common misperceptions about onboarding that recruiters and talent acquisition leaders tend to have?

We were just talking about bad onboarding programs. Organizations have to be careful that they don't confuse bad onboarding with a bad hire. It's possible that the organization hired the right person, but then blew it when it came to onboarding them.

What are some of the metrics HR can use to measure their onboarding program's effectiveness?

There are several, everything from Kirkpatrick's Levels of Evaluation to focus groups. The most important considerations when measuring a program is to, one, choose metrics that support the program's goals and objectives and two, select metrics that senior management wants to see.

What tends to separate really good onboarding programs from those that are mediocre or worse?

I find that a really good onboarding program aligns with and supports company culture. The program isn't a one-off of some other company's program. It's true to the values of the company.

What sort of influencing tips can you offer to help recruiting and HR leaders obtain the resources necessary for creating a world-class onboarding program?

Honestly, I've never known a company that was anti-onboarding. So that's a start in the right direction. Where people push back with onboarding is the time. It could make some sense to consider two things.

First, do a little survey with employees, managers, and senior leaders on how long it takes for a new hire to become fully productive. See if everyone is in agreement. If they're not, figure out how to get them there. Because that can help put the time it takes to onboard into perspective.

Second, talk with managers about expectations. New employees cannot learn everything they need in a half-day. It's possible that onboarding needs to be shorter sessions spread out over the course of weeks or even months.

Find out more about the Preconference portion of the Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Conference here.



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