Onboarding. This is a term I hear being used more and more and I am trying to figure out what exactly it is. It is not in the dictionary when I looked it up and no one ever really defines it in any of the literature. I think people are trying to come up with a way to bring people into the organization in more than just a haphazard way…unfortunately what I see is the same old version of what dinosaurs like me used to call orientation. As an employee retention expert, orientation is simply not enough and will certainly not work in the future.
I have a better idea. Let’s focus on what you should be doing instead of worrying about what sounds good politically. What you should be doing is trying to “assimilate” people into your organization so they become an integral part of the organization, become productive quickly and buy in to the value system that you are trying to develop. The definition of assimilate is to “absorb or incorporate.” Isn’t that what you are trying to so? You want people to become “a part” of the organization…to do more than just show up and put in their time. That’s my goal as an employee retention trainer when working with my clients.
Here is an incredibly effective road map to go about assimilating people into the organization that has worked for me in multiple organizations:
- Step one… drop the fancy buzzwords and think about what you want. Let’s get down to business and not worry about how you look in the staff meeting when we talk about our “onboarding process.”
- Step two…ask what you are trying to accomplish so you can build your “assimilation process” around those objectives. Is it to make the person as productive as possible quickly? Make them feel a part of the work group? Get them to buy into the value system of the organization? To many “on-boarding” processes are simply designed with no objectives in mind and thus look like what we used to call “orientation.”
- Step three…get the appropriate resources to be able to ensure you can accomplish your objectives. This means you need the right people and TIME to be able to do it right. That’s why you defined your objective in the first place so that when you start struggling over expending all those resources you go back to your objectives for guidance to make sure you allocate the proper resources…not too little or not much.
- Lastly…you need to execute. All too often you go through the motions and get the person “onboard” so they can start doing work instead of spending the time needed to “assimilate” them into the organization. You just check the boxes on the form so we can say you did it, turn them over to their manager and let them “start work.” That is not assimilation.
As an employee retention author, I have found for assimilation to take place extensive thought needs to go into what that person needs to learn, who they should know, and a myriad of other details…all of which take TIME! The bad news is that an effective assimilation process will take up to 180 days with checkpoints along the way to ensure you are on track with the new employee…yes I said 180 days. The good news is that by the time a person finishes the process they will be bought into the value system of the organization, fired up about their job and producing at levels that will be making the organization money. This is the type of employee retention strategies process you want.