Before we explain what On-Boarding is or how to implement it into your company’s hiring process, it is important to understand why this process is important and worth your time and effort.

The “why” to consider an On-Boarding program beyond the typical orientation of a new employee is quite simply about safe guarding your investment of time, money, reputation, talent and vision. On-Boarding is about retaining the talent and accelerating the time between orientations to production. Done right, on-boarding drives new employee productivity, accelerates results, and significantly improves talent retention and builds shared culture.

The reason on-boarding is receiving so much attention today is that companies recognize on-boarding as the link necessary to compete in the “war for talent”. Companies must strengthen their brand name by making a good first impression to the talent pool and that “good impression” must extend from the first meeting, to first day of work and beyond.

A robust on-boarding program includes five main components:

  • ALIGN: Ascertain that your organization agrees on the need for a new team member and the delineation of the position to be filled.
  • ACQUIRE: Identify, recruit, persuade, select talent to join
  • ACCOMMODATE: Provide all tools necessary to perform job
  • ASSIMILATE: Engage talent to work together towards expectations and goals
  • ACCELERATE: Assist the new talent and his team to over-deliver and over-achieve results

Best in class companies are creating an “On-boarding Road Map Policy” that reaches far beyond the new employee orientation to include:

  • a mentoring and support plan
  • providing tools necessary to succeed,
  • establishing a system for necessary communication,
  • up dates of company goals and performance expectations and time tables,
  • solution solving policy when problems arise,
  • an on-boarding checklist.

The successful On-Boarding Policy is provided throughout the initial six month of all hires and addresses all five main components while allowing customization to each position level.

The high level objectives of a successful On-boarding program should include:

  • Acquiring top industry talent
  • Helping the new employee to identify with new employer
  • Provide the new employee with an understanding of the company’s values, priorities and culture
  • Building an optimistic attitude towards the company
  • Avoid misunderstandings
  • Assure the new employee feels valued and appreciated
  • Creating a sense of belonging
  • Encouraging socialization and engaging new employee in team and company goals and objectives
  • Reducing new employee anxiety
  • Decreasing the learning curve
  • Setting of performance expectations
  • Designating a management level “On-boarding Intermediary” to oversee all on-boarding

There are several challenges companies face when developing and implementing a successful on-boarding program. Firstly, companies must be convinced that “on-boarding” is not “orientation” alone. It is important to understand that on-boarding goes beyond the orientation of a new employee. The orientation usually includes an introduction to all the “go to people” for the position, filing out insurance and benefits forms, tour of the facilitates and where to find forms, tools, training on computer, review of rates, services, product offering, etc. On-boarding also includes task management, problem solving solutions, performance expectations, and engagement and socialization in the company cultures. Hence, the company must understand on-boarding is not ONLY a Human Resource Department responsibility but also the responsibility of the each management level the new employee reports directly and indirectly to.

Another challenge comes in the “handing off” phase from the Human Resource Department to the direct report managers and their responsibilities of each level of management. A solution that some best in class companies have implemented is to appoint a trusted long standing company manager, possibly within the HR team, to be the On-boarding Intermediary. The role of the On-boarding Intermediary is to be known and available by every new hire as the trusted-go-to-person when and if there are concerns and/or problems during those initial six months of employment. This On-boarding Intermediary will establish an environment of confidence in this trusted relationship wherein he will listen to the concerns and frustrations of the new employee and/or the direct report manger. Then through a discovery and probing process will provide council and solutions.

While on-boarding is especially valuable for the executives transitioning into complex roles, it will improve productivity and employee retention while building company culture at all levels of the new employee. Most of these challenges can be overcome once the company has made a solid commitment to their on-boarding program.

Since the sales position is a key driver of business growth for every company in all industries, an example of on-boarding a Sales Representative Executive will further show the difference between “orientation” and “on-boarding”. The on-boarding program for a new sales representation would include the orientation phase but also include assuring that the new sales representative can obtain the rates and service needed to develop new accounts for the company. The manager of the new sales representative should set clear guidelines on revenue and timeframe expectations and provide leadership and motivation. All the tools must be provided in a timely manner such as business cards, sales collateral material, lap tops, cell phones, desks, etc. It is a costly venture if a top sales talent is acquired and then not supported by the customer service and operations department, rates are not quoted timely and at the level to attract new business. It is essential that the direct report manager of the new employee displays an attitude of openness to listen to the challenges of the new hire and take immediate action. And when the newly acquired sales talent endures several management changes it produces insecurity and frustration which directly affects productivity of the new employee and most of the time will result in the new sales talent leaving the company. If there are changes at the management level of the new sales employee, that issue needs to be addressed within the on-boarding program.

Once a company has made the decision to develop a top class on-boarding program the Human Resource Department and each Department/ Division Manager can work together by providing pertinent information and objectives for each of the five components of an on-barding program: Align, Acquire, Accommodate, Assimilate, and Accelerate. The on-boarding program should also customize for each company function and level of position.

Effective on-boarding of new employees can be one of the most important programs within a best in class company.

The success of a new employee is in direct proportion to the on-boarding program of a company!!