Getting Onboarding Right

After a long tiring search, you hire a great candidate for an important position. Now, what? Consider the fact that 46% of the new hires leave in the first 18 months1. Last year, companies found it took an average of 9 months for their new hires to become fully productive, and leaders took more than a year to become fully productive in their roles2. Surveys show that only 32% recruitment heads feel that their onboarding programmes are effective2.  What can you do about it? Research has some interesting answers. Let’s explore them.

 

 Most companies use onboarding to welcome new hires and acquaint them with the organisation. Engagement of the new hire with the role seldom gets importance. Studies suggest that role clarity of new hires is the strongest predictor of quicker productivity gains3. This isn’t surprising given that it’s easier to learn to do something when one knows exactly what one is responsible and accountable for.

 

 Studies show that personality impacts an individual’s preferred way of onboarding4. A “one size fits all” approach may not make the onboarding effective. This should be taken into account when standardizing the onboarding programmes. A programme that caters to an individual’s specific needs is likely to be more effective, will engage the new hire better and make employees feel more valued.

 

Onboarding is a very important activity for all new hires but for leadership positions it’s the difference between success and failure. What can we do, additionally, for onboarding leaders? Study on leadership hiring suggests that ‘self-efficacy’ (belief that one has the competence and resources to succeed given the applied effort) has a lot to do with quick successes in newly appointed leaders5. Use of mentors, coaching and feedback on personality can provide a new hire with rich insights into their strengths and challenges.  This may help affirm the belief that they have the necessary competencies to succeed. If not, this can help them find ways to manage the gaps and rally the resources they need. You can find one such psychometric report which can help with onboarding, here.

 

 Following guidelines can be helpful in getting the best out of an onboarding programme:

  • Institutionalising the process for onboarding new hires
  • Having an avenue where managers can provide role clarity to the new hires
  • Using a personality based approach that gives an individual an understanding of their innate strengths and challenges as well as how they are likely to play out in the role
  • Working out an individual focused onboarding plan and track progress

 

 When done right, a great onboarding programme becomes a great tool of engagement, retention and performance oriented culture.

 

  1  “You have hired, now what?”, Saville Assessment, 2016

2 “Talent Acquisition Factbook”, Bersin by Deloitte, 2016

3 “New-Hire Onboarding: Common Mistakes to Avoid”, Vernon, A. (2012)

4 “Proactive socialization and behavioral self-management”, Saks, A. M., & Ashforth, B. E. (1996)

5 “Unwrapping the organizational entry process: Disentangling multiple antecedents and their pathways to adjustment”, Kammeyer-Mueller, J. D., & Wanberg, C. R. (2003).

 

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