Friday, November 21, 2008

When the chips are down, employee retention becomes a nightmare…

The global economy is caught in a downdraft. Organisations are finding hard to maintain worker strength. While employers are helpless, employees are anxious and disgruntled. The agony is higher in organisations that depend on global demand and supply. In the midst of economic gloom and excessive employee turnover, poor retention can result in collateral damage. In such times “onboarding”, as an employee retention technique, assumes great relevance.

Onboarding is a part of the orientation process that prepares employees for their new jobs. Today organisations are speeding up the process. Leaders believe that organisations which create an inspiring work environment by providing the right orientation to employees are more likely to forge lasting ties, as compared to those that do not indulge in onboarding and orientation programmes.

First impression

Onboarding is one of the most defining employment experiences as it gives new recruits a taste of the culture, values and general environment of the organisation, apart from providing other job-related inputs. It is a familiarisation exercise that is aimed at making employees aware of the corporate practices, job position and their respective roles. Some may argue that there is nothing strategic about this ‘mundane’ formality. However, for those who believe it can make all the difference to employee morale and retention, it does make all the difference.

From an employee’s perspective, onboarding programmes help them connect with their colleagues better and begin on a more personal note. Employees who had received only filled up forms indicating their benefits and options will never know the advantages of undergoing a well structured onboarding programme. Organisations that are still undecided on the need for a formal onboarding programme, should consider its benefits against the harm that its absence might cause.

Organisations that have decided in favour of onboarding programmes cite three reasons for their change of mind. They are:
  • Onboarding helps employees connect better with the environment and makes them feel a part of the organisation. Interaction with senior leaders and managers helps new recruits understand the management’s concept of an “ideal culture”. It also shows them the part they are expected to play in the larger scheme of things.
  • Onboarding familiarises new recruits with the corporate culture and practices. While the unwritten rules are learnt over a period of time, the inked policies and cultural practices can be learnt quickly; and the sooner they are learnt the better.
  • Onboarding also enables employees to get on with the job at the earliest. Effective orientation clears many doubts and apprehensions in the minds of new recruits. It provides employees with the much needed momentum to start their work with the right attitude.
Effective onboarding
Having understood the significance of onboarding programmes, one needs to identify the factors that help frame an effective onboarding exercise. While every organisation has its own set of procedures and policies, certain measures are relevant universally. In the context of onboarding, the following guideline will help organisations frame an effective programme
Make it fun and interactive:

Conducting the onboarding exercise in a manner that makes the experience enjoyable is important. Leaders can include team-based games to orient employees. Such games help create instant rapport. While this may not be practical for individual employees, it can be practised while recruiting on a large scale. In addition to having team-based games, interactive presentations and an informal atmosphere can make the experience relaxing and fun.

Spread over a few months:

While onboarding typically suggests orientation for new recruits, the real impact can be felt when the programme is carried on for some months. A number of initiatives can be introduced to help employees get the real feel of the job and a holistic work experience. After the highly focussed first week, the programme can be stretched over a few months to include job rotation, inter-functional job postings and other such issues.

Involve managers:

Onboarding programmes become doubly effective if recruitment managers stay with the process. Their detachment often results in employees who are not as much equipped for job as those who have had their managers involved with onboarding totally.

Mentoring and coaching

New recruits should be provided with coaching and mentoring from the very start of their stint. Mentors must ensure that the new recruit is on the right track and has his feet firmly on the ground. Mentors also need to clear doubts and apprehensions. In addition, formal coaching must be provided to help the new recruit get an insight into the practices in his functional domain, competitor practices and other work-related issues.

Onboarding has often been trivialised. However, in view of the current economic slowdown where organisations are grappling for survival, investing in people on board can help sail through the rough weather!

*Reference: themanagementor

1 comment:

George said...

Informative post. I was searching for some information on onboarding and came to this blog. I am also engaged with the onboarding activities of my company and i needed some stuff related to employee retention, employee onboarding process etc .