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Onboarding The Human Resource: Challenges and Prospects
In the past, hires were expected to spend their life-time working in their new organizations. Because of this, new employees’ induction and orientation took the form of brief introduction to the company, meet-and-greet and sometimes speeches from top executives of the company like the Managing Director and followed by heap of documents and forms to be filled by the new hire.
Nowadays, job candidates are looking for job opportunities that would give them ample time to attend to other things, socialize etc not just a job and they now prefer freelancing, work-from-home, short-term contracts as they job-trot before landing a good one.
This is a one-day welcome event for a new employee as a team player, where the job and the organization are introduced to the new hire and vis versa. The process provides information on the rights of the employee, the rights of the employer, terms and conditions of employment. The new hire is also exposed to the culture of the organization and might take the form of slide-show presentation, a meet-and-greet, provision of company’s catalogues, HR handbook to new recruits or tour with relevant co-workers etc. It is meant to provide basic information and ease the new hire’s first-day-at-work jitters.
Orientation is a process of familiarizing new hires with company policies and guidelines; a short-term activity, most times completed in the first week of new hire’s resumption. It is about compliance and getting new hires up to speed with the Company’s processes and procedures, paperwork, and general administrative structures. This might include introduction to the company’s products and services, information on partners, accounting processes, and guidelines etc. This is also a part of the “Knowledge Management” process.
Induction and orientation are twin important aspects of any new hire’s career journey in a company but it must be noted that they are both short-term experiences and represents only the first few steps of that journey. This is why onboarding is necessary.
It is estimated that 50% of managerial roles fail within the first 18 months while for the majority of employees, 50% leave their new job within the first four months. To effectively nip this in the bud, an effective onboarding should be implemented.
Onboarding is a process of making the new hire get adjusted to the social and performance aspects of the job roles quickly and seamlessly; it is a full new-hire journey as it begins with the signing of contract, continues through the new hires first day at work (induction and orientation), fourth week etc and does not end until the new hire is fully settled in his/ her new job roles. This is irrespective of the length of time it takes – 6months or one year – and terminates when he/ she is fully integrated into his/ her new job roles.
They are both new recruit processes and to a greater extent dictates the success or failure of the new hires within the organization.
During the onboarding period, new hires learn about the organization, undergo training, mentoring, and performance reviews are carried out as they are exposed to the culture of the organization, acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA) required to perform optimally in their new job roles
Before an organization engages in onboarding, there has to be a deliberate and formal onboarding program. The Company should be able to answer some salient questions so as to come up with an all-inclusive plan.
- When will it commence?
- What is the time-line for the onboarding program?
- What do they (new hires) need to know about the Company’s structure, culture and work environment?
- What do we (the company) intend to impart to the new hires?
- What will be the roles of HR, Line Managers & peers?
- What do we intend to achieve at the end of the onboarding program?
- What are the possible challenges and how do we address them?
- How do we obtain feedbacks from the program?
- How will you measure it’s success?
With the above questions well answered, the HR and top Management would marshal out plans for its implementation to assist new hires easily understand the company’s policies, culture and workflow and get blended with the workings of the organization.
Onboarding as a process recognizes that 20% of new hires leave for new job opportunities within the first 45 days on the job.
Challenges of Onboarding
Onboarding can be awkward sometimes as new hires face the challenges of the “unknown“. They ask themselves thought-provoking questions: can I please this “iron lady who is my boss?”. Will they confirm my appointment at the end of probation period? Is this the last bus stop or I should start looking for another job? etc. These questions and answers provoke decisions to be taken in the coming days.
Here are some of the challenges of onboarding:
- Probationary Period:
During the onboarding period, new hires are in the habit of asking themselves: will I be confirmed? Will I be able to impress on the job or will I be successful on the job? Will my Supervisor recognize my inputs?
The employer on its part will also be asking if the new hire would be able to get along with their team, manager and other employees within the Company? Companies are worried about employees’ social connections because they matter so much to her as they look up to cordial relationships amongst her employees.
- Is there Career Prospect?
This is one other great challenge of onboarding. The new recruits are worried and they want to know their fates; they want to know what is in there for them; they ask themselves if the company was a place for them to stay and if there was career prospects? They ask themselves if it was a place to stay and if the answer is yes, they tend to stay but the next question would be, for how long?
Truly speaking, a conducive workplace will have a highly reduced labour turnover and engendered-growth. Employees may be inclined to stay longer here because of certain factors: they want to gain knowledge in a different work environment, or industry, specialize in a specific area etc, as they enjoy their job roles.
Irrespective of the above factors, employees want to work in a company where there is career prospects and growth, where they can build their career and be happy too.
This is another challenge as the new hire is worried about the new culture he or she is to be confronted with. He tries to fashion out a way to manage this. The organization is not less perturbed either.
- Adapting to Continuous Change
This is one factor that has affected onboarding as a lot of organizations do not review their onboarding policies. There is need to regularly update the onboarding process of the company so as to remain current with global trends and ensure that the workforce is aligned with the latest news and current processes.
It is very pertinent that organisations continuously adapt to changes in onboarding.
- Measuring the Results
Another challenge in onboarding is measuring the result of onboarding. Some design or send out forms as a feedback strategy in the form of survey after onboarding training. I would recommend looking at your retention rates or employees who turn out to be high-performers within their first year within the organisation.
Yes, it is important to collect feedback from new recruits at the onboarding stages but you should know that new hires may not be comfortable providing sincere feedbacks in two weeks into their onboarding but may be more comfortable a month into it and the confidence continues to grow in the coming months.
Advantages and Prospects of Onboarding:
Proper onboarding in an organization,
- Eases integration of new recruits
- Builds relationships,
- Ensures expectations on both sides are met
- Develops employee’s knowledge of the culture
- Strengthens employees’ commitment as roles are clarified and defined
- Engenders self-efficacy
- Teaches basic new hires basic Company policies
- Provides the formal and informal norms of the company etc
Some organisations carry out induction and orientation for new employees while thinking and believing (erroneously) that they are engaged in onboarding. Such companies miss the advantages acruable in onboarding as it is confirmed that “organizations with a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%”.
Onboarding, without mincing words has so many prospectd and organisations would grow tremendously if it is religiously implemented.
Contributed by Agolo Uzorka, CEO/ Lead Consultant at Eugene + George Consulting Limited
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