Pay Attention: Poor Onboarding Is Gutting What Little Competitive Edge You Have Left

Recently, I had the tremendous privilege of presenting at the annual HRPA conference with my business partner, Simon Parkin. This was particularly exciting for me as it was my first opportunity – Simon being the more accomplished speaker, his sixth. As we complete a number of studies throughout the year at our consultancy The Talent Company, our research led us to a hunch that Onboarding would be a point of interest (and angst) for many. Who knew the turnout would be so strong?! Thank you to those who were present and participated. The following includes highlights of the content shared along with additional insights that I believe our clients and network may find helpful.

In a world of hyper efficiency and doing more with less, Onboarding is one aspect for most that is focused on short-term tasks and getting a new hire settled in. It often starts with being brought to their desk, given a laptop, asked to setup their voicemail, email and then of course, the journey starts to fill out copious forms and reading through mind numbing company documents that “help you get familiar with us”. Our view is that this common approach is too systematic and critically void of what Onboarding is truly supposed to be – a human experience.

Onboarding is not a checklist, nor should it be an attempt to get a new hire to a desk and setup. It is a unique opportunity to show your new member that your external brand mirrors your internal brand. What is promoted externally as a wonderful place to build a career is not only words on a website but is in fact tangible and can be experienced within every aspect of your organization. Additionally, Onboarding should be an experience that provides a new employee with the opportunity to engage, socialize, understand your company’s culture and embrace its core values.

For the few that recognize Onboarding as a competitive edge, it is considered a series of milestones that can often last up to one year. For these exemplars, Onboarding includes mentoring and coaching, networking opportunities, formal goal setting, training, development plans and it is integrated into the talent management process and part of the overall talent strategy. Executing on this well not only produces an engaged employee but it also generates the following:

• New brand ambassadors for your company
• A source for new and otherwise untapped candidate pipelines
• Valuable competitive and industry intelligence
• Opportunities for existing employees to expand skills beyond functional areas
• An increase in overall employee engagement
• Robustness in your talent management program
• Leadership becoming more “connected” to their employee base.

Within these organizations, Onboarding is a shared accountability. It is not the responsibility of HR but rather includes the contribution of many. More importantly, the onus resides with the performance manager to ensure the new hire has a successful first year.

In conclusion, company’s which view Onboarding as a set of painful steps facilitated by checklists are missing out on a unique opportunity. It is a short window of opportunity that provides you with a chance to connect, engage and develop the human being that you have hired, not another number that is added to a report.

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Joe Minaudo is the leader of the Strategy and Transformation practice with The Talent Company (www.thetalent.co), a human resources consulting firm that enables organizations to achieve superior business results through the strategic acquisition, management and elevation of talent. Joe has approximately 15 years of recruitment, talent management and workforce planning experience. He has lead recruitment and workforceplanning functions for both international and global Big 4 consulting firms. Joe can be found at the following social tools LinkedIn and Twitter.

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