According to Gallup, only about 10% of employees strongly agrees that his or her company does a good job of onboarding new employees. In addition, when employees report having an exceptional onboarding experience, they’re almost twice as likely to feel prepared to succeed in their roles and 2.3 times more likely to feel good about their jobs.

A few years ago, NIIT developed a mathematical model to understand why the investment in robust onboarding pays off and demonstrate how an effective and efficient onboarding program can help increase new hires’ net contribution by over 120%. NIIT evaluated three levers for optimizing new hire training and found that effective new hire programs are designed to:

  • Reduce time in training.
  • Reduce errors on day 1.
  • Reduce the time to full productivity.

Future of Work and New Hire Onboarding

The best practices uncovered through that research study are still valid. However, in recent years, organizations are facing additional challenges related to the changing nature of work, the workforce and the workplace. These challenges include:

  • Preparing new hires not just for their current role but for an evolving role, in which they are likely to work in more automated environments and in which they will need a changing mix of physical, human, cognitive and technical skills.
  • Transforming new hire onboarding programs so that they can cater to an increasingly dispersed workforce as organizations experiment with new models and leverage the continuum from full-time workers to contractors, outsourced jobs, gig workers, temporary assignments and crowdsourcing.
  • Catering to the needs of new hires who are joining the organization for shorter assignments and, therefore, require onboarding in a format that prepares them for their assignment more quickly.
  • Rethinking the functional or job-specific elements of new hire training in light of a shift in the organization structure from well-defined roles within a hierarchy to project-based teams that are organized based on the capabilities required.

The Business Case for Transforming an Onboarding Program

Onboarding programs, even when managed by a dedicated learning team, tend to have many different stakeholders. For example, the onboarding program of a large business process outsourcing company that recruits over 1,000 new hires every year has seven stakeholders:

  • The talent management team.
  • The employee engagement.
  • The compliance team.
  • The business.
  • The functional academy.
  • The learning and development (L&D) team.
  • The onboarding team.

It’s important to align all stakeholders on the goal of the program: engaged and productive new hires who are keen to contribute to the growth of the organization. However, each stakeholder likely has a different perspective on how the onboarding experience should be structured.

Aligning priorities of multiple stakeholders can be challenging, especially when you are considering transforming the entire onboarding program. Investing time to develop a business case that clearly articulates the drivers and intended benefits of transformation is key to the success of an onboarding program transformation initiative.

The graphic below illustrates a sample business case.

The business case for transforming a new hire program

Assessing the Future-readiness of Your Onboarding Program

Shrinking labor pools across the globe have fueled the war for talent. In The Conference Board’s 2019 “C-Suite Challenge” survey, CEOs “cited attracting and retaining talent as their top internal concern.” In addition, emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic force organizations to rethink their approach to training.

To overcome these challenges, future-ready onboarding programs have the following characteristics:

Personalized

Leverage learning technologies to create personalized and immersive onboarding programs that can cater to multiple talent acquisition scenarios, ranging from onboarding a single new hire to onboarding a large group of new employees.

Target New Hire Success

Align learning to tasks, and enable new hires to develop proficiency in the tasks they will be required to perform in the first three to six months.

Modular

Use a modular structure that you can easily reconfigure to address the varying needs of each new hire depending on his or her experience, existing capabilities and intended work assignment.

Engaging

Incorporate rich in-person or virtual engagements with peers, managers and leaders, and build networks within the organization.

Realistic

Use digital technologies to mirror the work environment as closely as possible, including common challenges, deadlines, customer pressure and peer dynamics.

Learner-driven

Use chatbots and mobile apps to enable new hires to take charge of their onboarding.

Continuous Learning

Help new hires develop a continuous learning mindset by structuring the onboarding program as a learning journey that extends over a longer period, with decreasing “handholding” and increasing accountability for learning.

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