On the aisles of the expo hall at IHRIM '08 in Orlando last month were no less than a dozen vendors with an onboarding product. It didn't take much more than three booth stops to come to the conclusion that there are as many definitions of onboarding as there are vendors selling onboarding products. For that matter, there are additional definitions for each consulting firm and HR industry analyst that writes on the topic of onboarding. So what, then, is onboarding? Can a universal definition of onboarding be written?
Ask a vendor with an onboarding product what onboarding is, and their answer is likely to be skewed in the direction of the strengths of their own product. Instead, ask an HR professional what employee onboarding
is and they will universally define onboarding simply as moving a candidate for a role into that role. The candidate can be new to the organization, or may already be participating in the organization as an employee, contractor, partner, or in any number of peripheral capacities. The role the candidate is moving into may be any working relationship with the organization, most typically an employment role, but the role may also be an expansion of duty or responsibility, either permanent or temporary.
Onboarding technology vendors offer products that address a myriad of aspects of the above definition, all claiming their approach is the most important and therefore the only approach that matters. It's not surprising, then, that all of the vendors with onboarding products at IHRIM '08 showed off widely varying approaches to onboarding. A closer look at each of the vendors and their products reveals that there are two basic approaches to onboarding: transactional onboarding, and acculturation.
Benefits and Goals of an Employee Onboarding Program
The traditional orientation and onboarding process has typically been about bringing a new hire in and focusing on the company's identity and immersing the new hire in its culture and processes, while putting less emphasis on the new hire and what he brings to the table.
To gain long-term retention success, solid online onboarding
programs should instead be more about the new hire-customized to helping him or her succeed. The following are just some of the goals that should be targeted in onboarding:
- · Gets the new hire familiar with the company, its culture, mission, goals, and processes
- · Helps new hire establish a rapport with other colleagues, hiring managers, etc
- · Makes the new hire feel comfortable in his/her role, a clearly defined picture of duties
- · Learns what is expected of him/her
- · Inspire the new hire to become productive faster
· Make the new hire confirm that he/she made the right decision by joining your organization; feels encouraged that he/she is in the right place
A solid onboarding program isn't just beneficial for the hiring company in terms of making a good impression on the new hire. It is very instrumental in setting the new hire up for long-term success.
Once you've spent the time, effort, and money to find top talent, it only makes good business sense to continue with a solid onboarding process. It will help your new hire get acclimated and established within the company so that productivity can begin faster. Then you'll start to see the return on your investment, both monetarily and through retention.