Webinar Overview: Effective Employee Onboarding

Webinar Overview: Effective Employee Onboarding
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At Vector Solutions, we host a large number of informative webinars to try to provide helpful information to customers and non-customers alike. You can find the whole roster of recorded, on-demand webinars and upcoming, live webinars at our Webinars webpage. 

In this blog post, we're going to review some of the highlights and key points from a recent, and now-recorded, webinar on employee onboarding. In addition to reading this article, feel free to listen to the recorded, on-demand onboarding webinar by clicking the link below

Recorded, On-Demand Webinar: More Effective Employee Onboarding
(Vector Solutions Industrial and Vector Solutions AEC, webinar presenter Jeff Dalto, October, 2021) 

As an organization, one of the key ways Vector Solutions can help you improve onboarding at your workplace is with our learning management systems (LMS) and online training courses, so feel free to check those out.

And please do share your own tips, suggestions, experiences, thoughts, and questions regarding onboarding in the comments for this article.

What Is Onboarding?

To begin, we defined onboarding this way:

Integrating a new employee into an organization; integrating an existing employee into a new job role at the organization.

So even though onboarding is often thought of as something we do just for employees who are entirely new to the organization, onboarding is also important for employees moving to new roles.

Some Characteristics of Onboarding

Next, the webinar listed a few characteristics of onboarding, including:

  • It's for BOTH new employees and current employees who are new to a role
  • It teaches about job expectations and company culture
  • It helps speed an employee's time to proficiency & competence
  • It has four phases (in at least one helpful onboarding model)
  • It's not just about filling in HR paperwork
  • It's not just about training (see our article on human performance improvement, or HPI, for an introduction to looking beyond training)
  • It involves many people in an organization, including HR, IT, L&D, Security, department managers, etc.

Benefits of Employee Onboarding Programs

A well-designed and well-structured employee onboarding program has many benefits, including:

  • Introducing employees to organization's mission, values, culture, industry, products, etc.
  • Introducing the worker to their job role; coworkers; department; policies and procedures; etc.
  • Helping the worker acquire/develop knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies necessary for his/her job
  • Providing a competitive advantage to the organization in hiring
  • Leading to cost savings for the organization for recruiting, selecting & training new employees
  • Contributing to a higher employee retention rate
  • Contributing to higher levels of employee engagement

Because employee engagement is so critical for much of what we're discussing here, we took a brief moment to list 10 key "drivers" of employee engagement as listed in the book Building a Magnetic Culture: How to Attract and Retain Top Talent to Create an Engaged, Productive Workforce by Kevin Sheridan. Here's that list of 10 key "engagement drivers:"

  • Career development
  • Organization strategy and mission
  • Job content
  • Resource availability (to help perform job effectively)
  • Senior management's relationship with employees
  • Recognition
  • Direct supervisor or manager leadership abilities
  • Open and effective communication
  • Co-worker satisfaction and cooperation
  • Organizational culture

Just by skimming the list above, you can see how many times onboarding programs "touch on" most of the engagement drivers listed above.

Onboarding and Risk/Cost Reduction

Onboarding can help your organization reduce the following risks and costs, too:

  • Instability that leads to inefficiencies and productivity losses
  • Absentee rates
  • Overtime stemming from workers filling in for absentee workers/open positions
  • Legal and compliance risks (register for our upcoming Create Better Compliance Training webinar!)

Stats and Data about Benefits of Good Onboarding and Costs of Poor Onboarding

Starting at 9:30 in the webinar and going until around 11:20, we provide some stats and data showing the benefits of good onboarding programs and the costs/risks of bad or non-existent onboarding programs.

We're not going to type up those stats here, because you can just listen to the webinar to see them, but if you're interested, check them out. The stats relate to things like retention, use of onboarding, IT infrastructure for onboarding, positive employee experience, assimilation into company culture, improved understanding of performance expectations, increased engagement level, decreased time to competence and proficiency, increased productivity, keeping employees longer, and more.

Who Gets Onboarded?

As mentioned earlier, onboarding could and should include:

  • Employees entirely new to the organization
  • Employees new to a job role within the organization

There are a few good reasons to provide onboarding to employees who have been with the organization but are moving into a new role. First, of course, is that they will need help with that new role. And a second is that they may be moving into a new department or interacting with different employees, processes, and procedures than they used to. But it's also possible that significant changes have happened at the organization level since the employee was originally hired and onboarding and they may not be aware--things like organization mission, values, products, and more.

Four Phases of Onboarding: One Model

The book Effective Onboarding by Norma Davila and Wanda Pina-Ramirez (see more about this book, a primary source for this webinar, below) recommends thinking of onboarding as a four-phased process, including:

  • Pre-onboarding
  • Orientation
  • General Onboarding
  • Role-Specific Onboarding

We'll discuss each of these a little more now.

Pre-onboarding: This starts before the first day of work and much of it can happen online. Let employees begin to read and consider all that HR paperwork they need to fill out; tell them how to arrive to work on day 1; give them access to information about your organization's mission and values; let them poke around through your online learning management system and even take some self-guided courses if they'd like; and so on. HR tends to drive this phase although L&D and department managers may play a role, too, as might IT.

Orientation: Orientation continues the focus on HR paperwork, IT issues, security issues, and so on. Now's a good time for something like a workplace tour.

General Onboarding: Introduce workers to the corporate missions and values (try to get top management to appear, either in-person, live on a webinar platform, or at least through a recorded video; give organization-level introduction; explain your market and brand; show the organization chart; coordinate a lunch; etc. This will include more work from L&D than the earlier phases, and make sure you've got a good in-person facilitator for general onboarding. To learn more about organizational culture, you might find the book Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar Schein a helpful resource. Department managers will take the lead in helping the onboarded employee complete this phase of onboarding, and during this phase of onboarding a work buddy and a mentor will be assigned to the worker.

Quick tip: when discussing your organization's mission, values, and principles, remember that employee engagement and motivation increase when employees feel an opportunity for autonomy, mastery, and purpose at work. For more on this check our article on employee motivation and engagement based on the book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink.

Role-Specific Onboarding: In this phase, you're teaching the worker specifics about their new job and job role, as well as their department and coworkers.

Developing Your Own Onboarding Program(s)

In the webinar, we went into some detail to walk you through some steps for developing your own onboarding program. These steps include:

  • Determine the current state of your onboarding program, the desired future state, and your gap
  • Create metrics for evaluating the success of your onboarding program (see here for more on common evaluation methods and the LTEM evaluation method)
  • Develop your onboarding programs
  • Measure, evaluate, and revise/improve over time

Using an LMS for Employee Onboarding

The webinar goes into some detail on how a learning management system, or LMS, can help you create, deliver, manage, track, and evaluate your employee onboarding programs (this starts around 37:30 in the webinar).

If you're not familiar with learning management systems (LMS), they're online software applications that are generally cloud-based these days and that help you:

  • Import training materials
  • Create training materials
  • Assign training materials
  • Notify workers of training assignments
  • Allow workers to complete the online portion of the training assignment online
  • Credit workers for training completion (both automatically and manually)
  • Create completion records for completed training
  • Store completion records
  • Run reports on training completion progress and other training analytics issues
  • Store completion records

In the webinar, some tips we offered for using an LMS to improve your employee onboarding programs include:

  • Create re-usable training curricula for general onboarding and role-specific onboarding programs
  • Clone, modify, and assign those onboarding curricula to create personalized onboarding assignments instead of one-size-fits-all onboarding programs to better accommodate the learner's needs
  • Deliver, monitor, report, track, and analyze onboarding completion
  • Introduce the worker being onboarded to the rest of your training library, including training they can take on an optional/elective basis
  • Get the worker ready for training programs they'll take when their onboarding program is done

You can begin learning even more about learning management systems in our What Is an LMS? article.

Using eLearning Courses for Onboarding

We recommend that our customers (and readers out there!) use blended learning solutions that utilize many different forms of training delivery methods, selecting the training delivery method for each training need based on (1) which method will best enable the worker to satisfy the learning objective, (2) getting the training to the time and point of need when the learning will be most beneficial, and (3) issues related to scalability, cost, and similar real-world issues.

Those blends can include classroom-style face-to-face training, OJT, social learning, written materials, elearning courses, and virtual-instructor-led training. Please read our Guide to Blended Learning Solutions for more on this.

Vector Solutions offers literally thousands of elearning courses that employers in the commercial, public, and education sectors can use to craft well-designed onboarding programs. Click the links below to investigate some of our elearning offerings:

When Training for Onboarding, Use Evidence-Based Training Practices

We are advocates of using evidence-based training practices for which we have data and evidence showing they assist in comprehension, memory creation and transfer, job skill development, and improved performance outcomes. For an introduction to this, check out our evidence-based training practices blog post.

In our webinar, we briefly listed a few important DOs and DON'Ts along these lines for the training you'll design, create, and deliver:

  • Don't "firehose"
  • Avoid "information dumps"
  • "Chunk" training materials
  • Provide practice opportunities
  • Provide regular, helpful, supportive feedback in a timely manner
  • Spread out learning over time
  • Use spaced practice and retrieval
  • Use stories in training 
  • Blend your learning
  • Don't use training if training can't contribute to solving the problem
  • Remember there are other performance-improvement interventions that can be paired with training or used instead of training

A Key Useful Resource for Learning for About Onboarding

In researching and designing this onboarding webinar, I referred to and benefitted quite a bit from the following book. I recommend you check it out for even more information on onboarding:

Effective Onboarding by Norma Davila and Wanda Pina-Ramirez, from the What Works in Talent Development Series, ATD Press.

More Articles on Onboarding from Vector Solutions

Here are a few additional articles we've written on onboarding:

Conclusion: Stay Tuned for More on Employee Onboarding from Vector Solutions

We hope this overview of our onboarding webinar was helpful to you. Please let us know if there's something we can do to help your organization with its onboarding programs.

Jeff Dalto, Senior Learning & Performance Improvement Manager
Jeff is a learning designer and performance improvement specialist with more than 20 years in learning and development, 15+ of which have been spent working in manufacturing, industrial, and architecture, engineering & construction training. Jeff has worked side-by-side with more than 50 companies as they implemented online training. Jeff is an advocate for using evidence-based training practices and is currently completing a Masters degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning from Boise State University. He writes the Vector Solutions | Convergence Training blog and invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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