In the second of two articles about onboarding, Sarah Cook and Steve Macaulay look at possible pitfalls and how to measure success.
If induction is put under the microscope, many flaws often appear which can go unchecked unless action is taken. For example, HR and L&D are often allowed to become the sole owners of induction, instead of it being a shared process with managers and team leaders.
Also, it is easy to overload people with new information too soon, so work needs to take place to be clear what are the important things new employees need to know right from the beginning and what can wait. Often overlooked is that acclimatisation involves understanding the organisation’s culture and values.
Early on, it is helpful to start the process of helping new starters to understand the kind of organisation and its values that they will be working in.
When people are remote working, managers may fail to recognise that new employees need more support and time to orientate themselves. Establishing friendly contacts with other team members is important so that new employees do not feel isolated.
This means the manager finding ways to create a good sense of team spirit so people can get to know and trust each other. For example, holding regular team meetings, virtual team quizzes or lunchtime events.
You don’t have to be a Royal for newcomers to experience a mismatch between the organisation they thought they were joining and the reality
Sometimes, induction comes too little too late: some organisations are recognising that they need to pay attention to employees even before they start work. They are using social networks to put people in touch with each other, particularly new graduates.
Another failing is assuming too soon that you have ‘done induction’. If employee engagement gets off to a bad start, it can go down-hill and the employee can in some cases become demotivated and isolated. At very least an unhappy employee will not be contributing well.
For these reasons, it is important for line managers to stay close to newcomers to help resolve any early performance issues and keep performance and well-being on track. Infrequent management communication and reviews can sow the seeds of problems which can later be very hard to resolve.
Reviewing induction effectiveness is essential as good practice, which can easily slip, suggests it is wise to review and audit the degree to which the induction process is effective, doing so at stages on the way, for example one month, three, six and 12 months.
Induction as part of talent resourcing and development strategy
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, it has become even more important to keep in touch to retain and develop employees. According to the latest CIPD resourcing and talent planning survey 2020, many organisations monitor quality of recruitment activity, fewer review and track their inductees’ performance and development progress right from the beginning.
A new approach to induction has started to gain traction in a few organisations, which is to identify the individual’s unique talents and contribution and to work with that person to see how to apply that within the new host organisation.
This person-centred approach helps to build up the organisation, instead of asking people to suppress their individuality and their potential. Clearly it will work best in some organisations and some roles. Could it work in your organisation?
You don’t have to be a Royal for newcomers to experience a mismatch between the organisation they thought they were joining and the reality. Often taken for granted, soundly based and well thought-through onboarding and induction processes make good sense for employees and the organisation.
It pays for L&D and HR to review how effective such processes are in practice, based on data, not just superficial assumptions. We suggest you conduct a review, using the following questions as a starting point:
- How welcoming is your organisation to new people?
- Do you hold and learn from exit interviews?
- Do you monitor how people are settling in and contributing?
- Have you adapted induction to meet the challenges of home-working?
- Are you making the most of new employees’ strengths and attributes?
Part 1 of this article explores the importance of onboarding especially for those working remotely
About the authors
Sarah Cook is MD of the Stairway Consultancy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Steve Macaulay is an associate at Cranfield Executive Development at email@example.com