The pre-pandemic era is in the past and now various industries are faced with new challenges in the workforce. Many organizations have transformed their work environment and their hiring, onboarding, and training methods are or need to follow suit.
We interviewed Adrian Veary, Vector Solutions’ Learning and Development Manager, who leads the charge on the company’s onboarding program. He says, “One common issue with onboarding is that it doesn’t make people feel the connection to the company’s mission, values, and being able to apply them to real-life situations so that it becomes meaningful for them.”
To strengthen that connection and take your onboarding program to the next level, let’s take a look at how onboarding trends, common improvement techniques, and some of Adrian’s tips as you evaluate your onboarding needs.
A quick meet and greet and tour of the office
Rushing the process, and squeezing too much information in a week or so is not enough time to absorb what the new hire is learning
No support or follow-ups to see how the worker is progressing and how to course correct if needed
Gone is the approach of boring onboarding content and unengaging training that makes it difficult to retain information. According to SHRM, onboarding can last up to 12 months, and it involves the management and other employees. It takes time for a new worker to take it all in but also provides an opportunity to upskill either within the organization or the worker’s interest for growth.
“You’re essentially onboarding the first 12 months and while some companies may not have the resources or budget to make it a 12-month program, there are ways to create additional touchpoints. You should plan to have those ongoing interactions and check-ins regarding the employee’s progress. It also might not take someone 12 months to onboard, so giving employees the option to opt-out of continuing to onboard would be a nice customizable feature that speaks to them.” Adrian Veary, Learning and Development Manager
This is not an easy task for any organization, big or small. It’s also not a one-size-fits-all. Every company needs to do its due diligence to figure out what would be best for them.
One approach Veary recommends is initiating a ‘listening tour.’ This provides the person responsible for onboarding the opportunity to interact with workers in all areas of the business to find out what was missing and needed from an onboarding point of view.
During his tour, he quickly realized that there was an opportunity to build a solid program and roll-out it out in phases to make an immediate impact quickly. The first phase was the acceleration program which includes onboarding and orientation for new hires. The second phase is individualized growth pathways to help current employees further develop plans and competencies.
Develop a strategic onboarding plan that establishes what the company wants the employee to achieve. Setting clear objectives and goals lays the foundation which the new worker builds upon.
During the planning phase, make sure to include employee expectations, goals, and training timelines for the year.
Various methods of onboarding may be needed such as in-person and/or virtual (web-based).
Integrating technology with learning and development systems can help advance onboarding programs by making the experience engaging and interactive.
Provide a sense of belonging within the organization. Ideas include a coffee break meet and greet or an email to the team with a welcome message and introductions.
Remote and hybrid work environments do not appear to be going anywhere, anytime soon. According to a McKinsey study, 87 percent of workers who were offered to work remotely embraced the opportunity. For the 42 percent of employed respondents who typically are unable to work remotely (such as workers in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation, shipping/distribution, and more), employers need to explore other ways to satisfy the desire for flexibility and be an attractive choice for the database of candidates.
What is not changing is that organizations still need to build a sense of belonging, connection, and community among their workers. Luckily, plenty of technology exists to help bridge these gaps by making some tasks more efficient, creative, and organized.
"Onboarding is a great retention tool. It makes people feel like it is a place for them to have a career.”- Adrian Veary
Video conferencing makes it easier to connect and communicate. Some people are not comfortable with being on camera, but it’s an important piece of maintaining a professional atmosphere.
Equip those in leadership roles with the right management tools to assign tasks, train, and share files. These techniques help to simplify and organize the onboarding process.
Create a pre-onboarding checklist, so Information Technology departments can quickly set up the new hire’s credentials and chat channels. The employee can then easily access help, develop connections, and gain a sense of community.
Ensure the employee’s work location has enough bandwidth to operate the new technology and software seamlessly.
Support a safe and healthy work environment for employees. One method of using technology to achieve this includes eLearning courses to increase workers' knowledge and skill retention of critical safety procedures and processes, promote connectedness, and teach coping and problem-solving skills.
Lastly, the sense of belonging whether the new hire is remote, in-person, in-the-field, or hybrid.
With some extra personalized touches, the newest addition to the team quickly feels included. Veary also adds that it doesn’t matter whether you work for a large organization or a smaller one, first impressions are lasting impressions. It starts the very minute the candidate is introduced to the opportunity of joining.
Once an employee has been with the company for over a year, have a conversation about personal development, growth pathways, mentoring, job shadowing, job rotation, and more to build their strengths and competencies.
Check out this lively panel discussion on Closing the Skills Gap: Training and Upskilling the Next Generation of Talent. Leading manufacturers discuss how they are training the next generation of employees through improved learning and skills competency.
As we wrapped up our conversation with Adrian Veary, he mentions that the new generation of people joining the workforce like their learning highly individualized and customized to them.
“The new generation of employees expect guidance and training that is tailored for them and their job,” states Veary. “In addition to role-specific training, considerations should include delivery in similar ways that they currently take in information – bite-sized training, coaching, and mentorship.”
While there may be no one single way to solve the skills gap, a solid onboarding program is one of the first steps to addressing it and showcasing your investment in employees and workers.
Does your onboarding program need updates?
Let Vector Solutions help!
Salesforce's 2022 Global Digital Skills Index suggests that three-quarters of individuals feel they lack the necessary resources to acquire the skills employers need. Give employees and workers the chance to gain knowledge through Vector Solutions' online training and solutions and bridge the skills gap.
Check out this guidance Employee Onboarding: Ways to Shrink the Skills Gap and Create Opportunities to learn more about creating a great onboarding experience.