Onboarding (Immersion) : Increase Profitabilty by Decreasing “Time to Productivity”
By Admin

December 6, 2010

True onboarding is the purposeful integration of new and potential “Participants” (see the definition of The Great Workplace) into the organization to maximize their contributions quickly and effectively and to create a true “community” (people who help the organization achieve its purposes) within the organization that is sustainable and vibrant. It reduces the time to productivity and takes advantage of the High Excitement new participants bring to the table.

In the last 15 years, the business community has attempted to use fancy-sounding terminology to fluff up old business functions to sound more sophisticated and attractive: “Recruiting” is now “Talent Acquisition” and “Personnel” is now “Human Talent Management” (Except at Canine schools I suppose) and so on. Using the new terminology makes some folks feel more important, makes their tasks seem more critical and lofty, and makes what they do worth more money in the market. The old terms and functions are…”just so 20th century”.

Onboarding (in The Great Workplace we also refer to this process as “Immersion”)  is NOT one of those terms that have been invented to take the place of older, smaller-worth terms, even though many people who use the term “Onboarding”, don’t understand its importance.

True onboarding is the purposeful integration of new and potential “Participants” (see the definition of The Great Workplace) into the organization to maximize their contributions quickly and effectively and to create a true “community” (people who help the organization achieve its purposes) within the organization that is sustainable and vibrant.

Onboarding should be devised as a formal process that encompasses benefit information, government regulated information, corporate security information, but most importantly be created as a thorough and enthusiastic development and immersion tool for each participant’s understanding of their role in assisting the organization in achieving its stated purpose. Enhanced Productivity is the purpose of onboarding, though its formal use will achieve far more than simple gains in profit. Onboarding is a process that must have an organization’s long view at its core, not simply how to get someone’s desk organized for his or her first day of work.

The real issue that has been fumbled by most organizations in the USA today is “When should the onboarding start?” According to a Taleo survey of a thousand large corporations, only about 20% actually start the onboarding process at the time of searching for new employees. And, less than 10% of corporations attempt to onboard suppliers and consultants, especially during the “Bid” (read: The Ebay-ing of American businesses) process.

Much time is spent by organizations interviewing for skill sets, previous experiences, how people think, make decisions, cultural fit and so on in managed interview scenarios and not enough time spent on giving potential “participants” a true look at expectations, purposes and success scenarios. Many organizations ASSUME that a person will find out all these important items in due time, in the everyday course of business.

To be very blunt, the onboarding process MUST begin within the vehicle that organizations use to attract good people to join their company. This means that relevant information must be present in ads (Transparency), on the organization’s website and social media vehicles and disclosed fully to the search firm or agency that the organization is using to procure talent. To extend the definition of “talent” in a true 2.0 fashion, onboarding MUST include strategies to include any “Participant” (vendor, contractor, freelancer, service provider and more) without regard to their Workplace 1.0 “Status” (example: in the past, an office supplies provider may be valuable only to the extent of their discounts).

Onboarding needs to be a core component of the organization’s CULTURE. A meaningful culture will reflect the organization’s values, and one of those values will be BOTH how a participant is made ready for high productivity and how all organization participants (employees, supervisors) are prepared to help the new participant become successful, quickly.

You are attempting to hire productive people. Why would you want to slow their development or muzzle their ability to produce.

One of the success components in onboarding is to think differently about “Fast Starting” a new hire: do you simply throw them in to the pool or do you give them swimming lessons?

Bottom line: If you are using a recruiting firm, search firm, or interim employment service to obtain long or short term talent for your organization, you are doing your organization a disservice in NOT starting your onboarding process with those services. It is very hard to change the first and best impression your organization needs to make, and it is short sighted to think that the organization that is capable of finding talent that you cannot find is not capable of creating YOUR best impression.

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2 COMMENTS
  1. Robert – I could not agree with your points more. People should keep in mind that one of the prerequisites for starting onboarding at the talent acquisition stage is getting key stakeholders aligned around the role and organizational messages before recruiting starts. This will go a long way to making sure that candidates’ first, best impressions of the organization are in sync with what everyone in the organization agrees they should be. More on this in our book “Onboarding – How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time”

  2. Thanks George: (More in MY Book: The Great Workplace 2.0…..:) ) Yes, many talk about it, try to “Make it a policy”, but few do it well (yet). We first need to drop all the “Corporate” terminology of “Aligning” (not a slam at you at all) and the fancy terms we now use to hide true meanings, and simply all agree on the Purpose, The How, The Why, of what we do to stabilize and grow the business and the Talent (Participants) from within. It all simply takes agreement, discussion, and execution of some basic principles…and for corporate types and service types alike to quit hiding in terminology, and be visible in doing. My research has shown that the BEST up and coming companies do “Onboarding” (immersion) as a matter of a VALUE, not policy or “Initiative”. Thanks for your learned comments. ras

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