Cut excuses for bad onboarding experience

For the great majority of newcomers who enter the workplace, the onboarding system is broken.

Even leaders in the human resources field recall more bad times than good as they transitioned into new places of employment.

“Unfortunately, I have never experienced a great experience,” said Forbes analyst, brand strategist and TalentCulture chief executive officer Meghan M. Biro.

She talked with “onboarding evangelist” Jess Von Bank of Click Boarding about how the employee experience is changing. Click Boarding promotes delivering “a dependable onboarding solution.”

As Biro explained, onboarding is introducing new hires to their role, their team and the culture.

“Onboarding is your opportunity to introduce the organization to new employees,” she said. “It helps new employees to understand business and performance goals; vision and values; and makes adjustment and transition a smooth process.”

From the recipient’s view, too often onboarding is an endless procession of mind-numbing information that goes in one ear and out the other.

“Gah! Let me fix that, please,” Von Bank said. “Onboarding makes for happy marriages.

“You’ve dated me — recruited me — asked me to marry you — extended an offer,” she said. “Please be at the altar when I show up — my first day. And let’s continue the courtship — employee experience.”

Everyone needs help

When corporate management wants to do better, Von Bank is available.

“I just hung up with a pharmacy benefits management company struggling to compete for and keep hard-to-find talent and hire more workers than ever who are remote and-or temporary,” she said. “’Help us!’ Onboarding is the answer in this common future-of-work scenario.

“We’ve let the definition of onboarding be narrowed to this ‘legal’ onboarding,” Von Bank said. “Onboarding is the experience your employees expect. Don’t take your foot off the gas after delivering an incredible candidate experience. We just forged a relationship. Keep going.”

Done right, entering a new workplace is memorable for the right reasons.

“Onboarding should be thought of as the experience your new employee is expecting,” Von Bank said. A great place to start is when you determine what should happen, what information to convey or questions to answer.

“From the employee’s view, what needs to be accomplished to help me show up ready and excited?” she said.

Recalling her own bad onboarding experiences, Biro wants to make good as an employer.

“As a business owner, I ensure my teams are treated well from the first conversation,” she said.

Do better to win

Von Bank’s fondest newcomer orientation was her most recent one.

“My best onboarding experience was at Click Boarding, and I should hope so,” she said. “Why do I have to go to work for an onboarding solution to get a decent onboarding experience?

“No more excuses, HR,” Von Bank said. “Do better. You’ll win the war for talent if you do.”

Her formula for successful onboarding is simple.

“Make me feel welcomed, like you’re expecting me,” Von Bank said. “Reduce the new-hire anxiety we all have, and I will love you forever.

“The business wins because I’ll be happy, retained, a source of referrals, a brand advocate and productive that much faster,” she said.

Technology plays a big role in the process.

“Pick a partner platform that can manage the process you’ve designed,” Von Bank said. “Technology should never be the work. It should do the work so HR can focus on people. Build relationships. That’s good onboarding.

“I love impact,” she said. “Capitalize on moments of impact, and guess what? Your employees will show up ready to deliver and impact your business in meaningful ways. Isn’t that what you’ve hired them to do? Unleash them. That’s good onboarding.”

Fruit tree

Organizations might want to send veterans through the current onboarding process. Seeing things through the newcomer’s eyes might pinpoint places to improve.

“Go for low-hanging fruit,” Von Bank said, listing her suggestions.

  • Start before Day 1 or you’re leaving a lot on the table.
  • That means it’s got to be mobile. It’s what I expect, anyway.
  • And please don’t settle. Back-end HR systems aren’t designed for a beautiful, consumer-like experience.

“Onboarding is not HR orientation on Day 1,” Von Bank said. “Let me repeat: Onboarding is unleashing talent to do what they were hired to do for your business.

“Can you imagine if every new hire showed up really excited?” she said. “This feeling equals retention, loyalty, advocacy, employee referrals, productivity, performance, business impact and customer service. Make me excited.”

Stacked up

Von Bank said all of this is possible even if human resources specialists have a lot on their plates.

“Listen, I get it,” she said. “You have scale, complexity, a whole HR tech stack to care for. Heck, your job descriptions still stink, let alone tackling employee experience.

“Start somewhere,” Von Bank said. “Keep talking to me when I accept and before I start work. That’s a very good place to start.”

Biro advised not to let onboarding get bogged down in old-school ways.

“Keep it personal and allow for flexibility,” she said. “Every new hire comes from different backgrounds and possesses different strengths and weaknesses.

“By tailoring the entire process, you create a win-win situation in which new hires can learn faster,” Biro said.

She suggested automating whenever possible for forms, video training, policy education and so on.

“Make onboarding interactive,” Biro said. “It isn’t a one-way street. Unidirectional onboarding sessions such as videos or slideshow presentations are outdated and rarely work.”

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.