Onboarding Should be an Experience, Now More Than Ever

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By Jenna McCoy

June 13, 2022
7 min read

In a pre-pandemic world, onboarding was an event in itself. It often involved travel, multi-day learning experiences, lunches, dinners, happy-hours, practical application activities, meet-and-greets with company stakeholders or panels with department leaders. Enabling a new hire to get upskilled and assimilated into company culture was top priority. Yet with all that in mind, Gallup finds that “only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees.”2

In the current flexible work environment, radical evolution of onboarding has yet to occur. Onboarding often boils down to a virtual one-on-one welcome with a manager and round robin conversations with peers. The challenge: managers are so burdened by day-to-day tasks and meeting overload that they're unable to dedicate the time and attention needed to properly onboard their new team members--especially as it relates to cultural acclimation.

Why the Onboarding Experience Is So Important

We often forget that an employee’s decision to join a new company is coupled with the emotional decision of leaving another organization. These new hires have given immense thought to the pros and cons and ultimately have decided that the new organization offers a better opportunity for them. Therefore, it’s critical that the new organization lives up to the expectations that were shared across the interview process. That’s not a skill that’s innate to managers. Onboarding is the entire organization’s responsibility.

Organizations need to orchestrate the people and resources to cultivate deliberate and meaningful moments for new hires in order to drive timely assimilation within the organization.

Onboarding goes well beyond just getting new hires up to speed on tasks and skills. Organizations need to curate specific opportunities for new hires to:

  • Build an internal network
  • Establish cross-functional relationships
  • Learn about company offerings like employee resource groups, EAPs and other benefits

A Strong Onboarding Experience Reaffirms Intent to Join and Drives Retention

An effective onboarding process is one that reaffirms the emotional reason of why the employee chose to join the organization.

According to Gallup, “new employees typically take around 12 months to reach peak performance potential.” Yet, gone are the days of new hires sticking it out. According to a Lattice report, “In the US, 52% of employees with tenures of 3 months or less are looking to leave. Nearly 60% of employees with 3-6 month tenures are trying to do the same. The trend is even starker in the UK, where 65% of employees with 3-6 month tenures are looking. Overall, the most at-risk employees have been at their companies for 7-11 months.”

I’d argue that organizations should orchestrate year-long or more onboarding experiences to not only reaffirm intent to join the organization, but to drive retention as new hires work to full performance potential. Great in theory, but in reality--many organizations simply don’t have the capacity.

With that idea in mind, you might consider replicating the learning experiences that our clients are using to support an onboarding experience aligned to the pivotal 18 months after a new hire joins a company.

Use Our Approach to Learning Experiences

Recognizing the need to enhance and extend onboarding experiences, beyond just company history and compliance--that’s orientation, not onboarding--organizations are tapping into DeVryWorks’ curated learning experiences. Here your new hires can collaborate with employees from different companies or departments, with different experience levels, in a virtual setting to build their skills based on their personal, team and organizational growth strategies.

The deliberate mix of tenure and experience allows you to gather a group of new hires from different departments and amplify your existing onboarding session over the course of a week or even just a few days, to a year or longer experience.

Onboarding Process or Experience – How do You Stack up?

Start by auditing your existing onboarding strategy. (And if you don’t have one, that’ll be quick.)

Next, create an outline for an onboarding experience that reflects your deliberate investment in people development. An effective outline should start with who is responsible for the experience. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to dedicate resource(s) to the onboarding experience, that’s the best option. Gather the stakeholders and start building the onboarding experience from there.

Considering shifting from an onboarding process to an onboarding experience? DeVryWorks partners with organizations to enhance their onboarding experiences by implementing learning experiences that enable new hires to build relationships and develop critical skills aligned to the pivotal new hire months to productivity. If you are curious to know more, reach out today and let's talk further.

Create a Learning Pathway to Close the Skill Gap

When you provide opportunities for your team to develop their professional skills, you can create an environment that makes your team feel valued and empowered. With the right learning path that focuses on upskilling or reskilling, your team can acquire the work-ready skills they need, to apply to their role today.

What skills does your team need to build in the next 6-months, 12-months, and longer? Let’s connect and start mapping these skills to your succession and strategic planning.

About Jenna McCoy

Senior Manager of Sales Enablement, DeVryWorks

Jenna McCoy provides strategic leadership over the DeVryWorks commercial partnership process, upskilling of the DeVryWorks strategic account management team and supports sales technology innovation. In addition, she leads development of the customer buying journey by collaborating with product, marketing, sales and service to evolve the corporate partnership process based on partner needs.

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