Today the Recruiting Daily Avisor is joined by Debasis Dutta, VP and General Manager, Products at SumTotal. Dutta was kind enough to answer some questions about onboarding, and the concept of continuous onboarding.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: I have a good grasp of onboarding in general, but could you explain what you mean by continuous onboarding?
Dutta: Continuous onboarding shows an employee that you are offering them a career, and not just a job. Some organizations only use the onboarding process for new employees, but it should be extended to those that have received a promotion, have been transferred from elsewhere, or are returning to work after a period away.
The answer to the employee retention crisis is a well thought out onboarding program: a fully developed, personal progression path for each employee that maps key milestones and expectations. Continuous onboarding provides constant threads of reflection and growth opportunities for employees, so that they know their job well and how to progress.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: In some of your articles you mention that onboarding can combat employee retention. How does onboarding (or a lack thereof) influence employee retention?
Dutta: By using a continuous onboarding procedure, the business as a whole is likely to see measurable improvements in business metrics like revenue, customer retention and satisfaction, and reduced skills attrition.
Continuous onboarding provides a tangible touchpoint for employees to see how the company is engaging and mapping out their future career progression. The notion of an ever-evolving role with a sense of direction and prospect is an attraction to employees. By tracking employee performance, strength and weaknesses on an ongoing basis, managers will more easily find the best roles for their employees. Managers can then choose the required development courses and training for that role and provide the right content to the employee.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: Existing employees also need to be continuously onboarded. What does that look like? How does it help retention?
Dutta: When employees change jobs within an organization, they often focus on making a smooth transition and handing off work versus optimizing their performance in the new role.
A small percentage of people have the natural ability to manage people, yet companies move people into first-time manager roles with little or no guidance. The workforce is also seeing the dissolution of a traditional corporate ladder in favor of horizontal movement to gain new experiences, but only 27%* of companies effectively re-board employees after they take on a new role. To retain employees, organizations should leverage onboarding to drive performance for employees familiar with the company, but new to a team or role.
*Onboarding Outcomes: Fulfill New Hire Expectations. Human Capital Institute, 2016.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: Does onboarding play a role in engagement as well? What about continuous onboarding?
Dutta: There is a lot of excitement when you have just accepted your offer and organizations want to keep the momentum going with that excitement. It’s important to immediately reach out to the new hires before they start.
If new hires get the silent treatment between accepting the hire and starting the job, the company is sending the wrong message. Reaching out means sending them emails, connecting them with the manager, getting a phone call from the manager or even small things like a welcome gift that would make the individual very comfortable with the connection you are trying to create. All of those actions result in an increase of retention by a large percentage.
The first 90 days is critical to make a connection with colleagues, to make a connection with the business, to feel supported, and to develop a positive attitude. Companies need to make sure that they can set expectations early, establish the right values and create a reason for these people to believe that they have made the right decision.
Recruiting Daily Advisor: Aside from engagement and retention, what other benefits does onboarding have?
Dutta: Candidate outreach is an integral part of onboarding, and this candidate experience translates into an enhanced employee experience with continuous onboarding. This bodes well as a company culture with people-centric company values that helps the company brand image as a ‘sought-after best company to work for.’
Recruiting Daily Advisor: What are some critical features of onboarding, say, a new hire?
Dutta: Fundamentally, onboarding is a tool for employee retention and satisfaction, so the most important thing to ensure is that the program is engaging for the user. If a program is dull or difficult to navigate, the experience will instantly disengage the employee, stunt development and potentially push them away as soon as they begin. Here are a few key considerations to take when choosing onboarding software:
- The interface used for the onboarding process should be enjoyable and easy to use (look for a Netflix-style interface that is easy to navigate)
- Ensure that the content is clear and engaging
- Employees should be able to see their progress