How to Deliver An Effective Onboarding Experience

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Sep 15, 2017

Most employers consider generational differences when they design their onboarding process. These can be costly and have a huge impact on employee success, which is why they need to be effective.

However, when they place new hires into generational stereotypes, they’re actually hurting onboarding processes. Of all the generations currently in the workforce, millennials are the most resistant.

A September 2015 survey from Pew Research Center found that only 40% of millennials embrace their generational label. Millennials want to be individuals, but this issue extends to all generations.

Here’s how to think beyond generational stereotypes and deliver an effective onboarding experience.

Treat everyone like an individual

If employers adopt onboarding techniques that are geared toward a new hire’s generation, they’re missing the mark. This casts too wide of a net.

By lumping everyone in groups, companies make it harder to get them up to speed. Instead, approach every new hire and employee like a unique human being.

To get into their heads, actively seek out their feedback. Conduct surveys to better understand each person’s preferred method of learning, and provide them with materials that fit them. Customize each new hire’s onboarding experience so they don’t learn about things they already know or disengage from the training materials.

It’s also important to consider them as people, not just assets. Just as employers gauge cultural fit with new hires, invite new hires to express their perspective on how well the culture fits them.

Zappos, an online shoe and clothing store, offers new hires $2,000 to quit after they complete the onboarding course. This puts the ball in their court — they can choose if they see themselves thriving in the company.

Immerse them in culture

Zappos’ unique strategy to retaining new hires is smart because it highlights one of the biggest aspects involved in developing relationships with talent: Does the culture fit the personality?

The best way to get new hires in tune with the culture is by getting them immersed in it on day one. For example, Pinterest, a web and mobile app, embraces what they call “knitting.” They encourage new hires to start collaborating and understanding how diverse points of view matter in seeing the world.

Then, new hires meet with leadership and engage in informal discussions. The most important aspect here is that new hires have a dialogue with high ranking professionals; they don’t just listen to them.

Make sure new hires are seeing all sides and connect them with employees of all ages. Don’t just stick twentysomethings with younger employees. Involve them in projects with older employees as well so everyone can share their unique approach to work.

More importantly, this gives them an in-depth look at culture and how the organization celebrates diversity.

Provide one-on-one training

Everyone deserves a personalized approach to onboarding, and that should include both team and intimate collaborations. New hires can learn a lot in team environments, but don’t forget to give them one-on-one time with a few colleagues they are most likely to work with.

Consider appointing tenured employees as training buddies with new hires. For example, Buffer, a social media and online marketing tool, has a three buddy system. Each employee gets a leader buddy, a role buddy, and a culture buddy.

The leader buddy is more experienced and leads conversations with the other two buddies and the new hire during the onboarding bootcamp. The role buddy has a keen understanding of the new hire’s role, so they are the go-to for all role-related questions.

The culture buddy is also very experienced. They are tasked with showing them the unique aspects of their culture and helping them feel like they fit in.

This intimate approach to onboarding gives new hires access to several different perspectives and builds a strong rapport among several employees. No matter their age, new hires embrace this process.

Schedule performance reviews

Despite the generation, one thing is universal — employees want more feedback. Build regularly scheduled performance reviews into the onboarding process.

Employers need to focus on reviewing goals, role fit, and cultural fit. When they collect this data, this helps them measure quality of hire.

Also, use performance reviews to ask for their feedback on the onboarding process. Encourage self-assessments and gauge how satisfied new hires are with how they were introduced to the company.

This information helps employers understand their quality of onboarding. With direct feedback, they can pinpoint what works and what needs to be improved upon.

Onboarding is an early indicator for the success of new hires. When employers adopt a one-size-fits-all strategy or group employees into generational buckets, they’re showing that they don’t see employees as individuals. Treat everyone like individuals instead of labeling them.

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