As per the industry verdict employee onboarding will be a top initiative for businesses, second to recruiting. Onboarding is a crucial step for a new hire in a company. Onboarding starts with making an employee familiar with ‘the social and performance aspects of their company’ and expanding their understanding of its policies and benefits.
According to Onboard: Onboarding each new employee costs around $400 to an organization (1). Organizations, with a standard onboarding process, experience 54% greater new hire productivity along with 50% greater new hire retention. What’s more, onboarding programs can improve employee performance by 11.5%. Most proactive organizations, 68%, are using online employee onboarding software for their new hires. (2)
Making Online Employee Onboarding a Success
The internet boom, the globally dispersed set up, mass hiring and increasing costs are changing the way onboarding is done. There is a growing need to move towards innovative, interactive and efficient ways of onboarding. All this has pushed companies to invest in online/ digital onboarding which offers a consistent experience, is flexible, cost-effective with better tracking and reporting. Organizations may choose from a variety of LMSs (learning management software) to implement their online onboarding programs.
How to make Online Onboarding more interactive
The key to building a powerful onboarding program is to keep it simple, interactive, engaging and personal.
- Choose Blended Onboarding: Online onboarding can be used with traditional onboarding elements which may be termed as a blended onboarding experience — where the employee can be happily engaged with the best of both worlds — technology and human interaction. New employees may be engaged even before their first day at the organization through online communication and post their joining through online instructor-led sessions.
- Start engaging from the YES: A robust online onboarding system kick starts the engagement process the moment an employee accepts the offer. From sending welcome emails to allowing them to browse a new hire portal which has information about the company, its business, their role, and growth chart. It also has information around their joining formalities, documents to submit & how their first day will look like. It even allows them to fill their forms online and upload the scanned copy of their documents. Having an FAQ section along with the point of contact and chat options helps build a seamless process.
o At Pinterest new hires receive an introductory email with their schedule and other details and are given the opportunity to introduce themselves to the company.
o At Linkedin, new employees are given a ‘New Hire Onboarding Roadmap’ to help their transition into the company. It’s a week-by-week guide that supports them to be productive and successful in their new role.
o Warby Parker sends “an electronic welcome packet”, with the company history, core values, press clippings and what a new employee should expect during their first day, week and month.
o At MasterCard, once a person is hired, they receive a welcoming email which includes links to company videos, access to a website where they can “update their employment information, upload a photo for their badge, read about learning opportunities and complete paperwork for benefits enrollment, taxes, and direct deposit”.
· Use Simulation: Most new hires are nervous and anxious about their first day and navigating their way in a new environment. However, a simulated experience of their first day can be given via a live interaction. Real-world simulations ease anxiety by offering a virtual tour of the workplace and are helpful in building familiarity with a new environment.
o Ernst & Young provides an innovative onboarding portal that includes an online virtual tour that provides their new hires with information about their firm, walks them through the onboarding process and answers questions that are most frequently asked by new hires.
· Engage with Videos and storytelling which promotes the impact and engagement level of the content. Videos in the form of a welcome message from CEO and around company’s history and culture are great ways of building interests. They instill a sense of pride, appreciation, and passion for the organization and help new hires come prepared with questions during the induction process.
o Trivago gives an introduction to their onboarding process to new hires via interactive video.
o Marketing firm Drift demonstrates a strong brand in their new hire culture video, complete with a birds-eye tour of the office.
Studies show that a tiered onboarding program, which integrates video throughout, resulted in a 15% increase in employees who stayed with the company after completing their first year (3).
According to an article by the Matrix Blog, “making the learners interact with the video — even through a simple click or drag and drop — increases emotional engagement with the learning material and grows their chances of making the best decisions when confronted with the real world.”
The method of storytelling is a powerful tool to keep the employee engaged and prime him/her to retain information better. Stories around organizations evolution highlighting key milestone, peoples journey through the organization and their learnings are great ways of internalizing content and making it a memorable experience for new hires. This may be implemented through videos or the instructor/a key speaker at a session online or offline.
o Canva a creative software firm has an innovative video to showcase their culture to new hires. It gives a tour of the office, an introduction of the company’s vision through the inspiring story of the CEO Melanie Perkins covers team members and also the features that Canva product offers.
· Online modules of work Scenarios and case studies can be effective in explaining key policies and procedures and in the internalization of organizational values, ethics, and compliance policies. We can build online modules around various situations which people are going to encounter during their stay and ask new hires to take it to closure. For example, scenarios can be built around how to handle leave request, exit procedure or retention call, team dynamics, feedback call, client negotiation, etc.
· Building Online training mentors and new hire community: Creating an online new hire community whereby new hires can ask for suggestions, questions, share ideas and join online discussions helps to bond. It helps them know people within the organization and form relationships.
o At IBM, after accepting an offer new hires are given access to the ‘Soon 2B Blue’ online community. It is a pre-hire community that introduces the new hire to IBM’s history, corporate culture, and need-to-know info about IBM.
o IBM also has another program called Succeeding@IBM which is a two-year online learning program that gives new hires information about corporate values, strategy, tools, and the resources necessary to succeed at work.
· Using online games to replace dull quizzes and exams for final assessment and measuring onboarding effectiveness. A gamification strategy has the required impact as it captures and retains learner’s attention, challenges, engage and entertain them as well as teach them. Organizations with gamified onboarding have experienced a 48% boost in engagement and 36% improvement in turnover rate (4).
o At Modere (essential lifestyle brand) onboarding is gamified through a company scavenger hunt. New hires are asked details on policy questions found in the employee handbook, and the name of every employee who returns all the right answers is entered into a prize drawing.
o Arrow Electronics has developed an interactive onboarding computer game called “A Culture for Success”. New hires can select from game modules on “industry basics, corporate history and culture,” and each module is followed by a quiz- which gives them immediate feedback on how well they did.
o AllianzGI, for its employees, created an interactive game which allows the players to experience a day in the life of a portfolio manager. The experience awards the player points for strategic, well-researched decisions.
o MindTickle designed a gamified learning platform that transformed the existing new hire orientation content into an interactive learning module.
o Tech firm Bazaarvoice sends incoming employees on a weeklong scavenger hunt designed to bring them up to speed on company culture and company jargon.
Companies are exploring novel ways of connecting and integrating its people and turning new hires into confident, engaged, successful and passionate employees. The intent is to give employees an environment of trust, support, and care from day one.
A structured and interactive onboarding results in improved retention rate, faster productivity, reduce the cost of hiring, greater trust and pride, improved ROI and higher compliance and security.