Building a Strong Foundation: Onboarding Employees & Employee Training

By: Phil McCarthy

Once someone is hired, they need to be onboarded, and having an effective onboarding strategy can make a huge difference. HR consultant Jeremy York, on behalf of Ajilon Staffing, presented an excellent set of onboarding best practices. All too often, there is no plan in place which has both short and long-term effects. 50% of all senior hires fail within 18 months, 50% of hourly workers leave within the first 120 days and 89% don’t have the knowledge that they require for the job, so they require training.

Don’t just hand an employee product manuals and hope for the best. Help people set-up their voicemail and email, and take the time to show them where the restrooms are so they feel valuable. Additional best practices include: Reviewing any basic legal and policy information. Equip new hires with the knowledge, skills, tools, and training they need to be successful. Review the company values, behaviors, and performance objectives. Introduce them to the cultural/organizational norms, and immerse new hires into the organization’s personality. Finally, welcome them and create mutual trust and respect, and minimize the time it takes to fully contribute to their workgroups.

HR consultant Jeremy York goes on to share the 4C’s of onboarding:

1. Compliance: review legal info, the handbook, and any new hire forms and benefits.
2. Clarification: education about the job, performance standards, expectations, and any goals.
3. Culture: what are the organizations mission, vision, and values along with any formal and informal norms including unspoken policies.
4. Connection: introduce them to other key employees and review any organizational politics, lingo, or acronyms. While this can be a lot to do, it can be done in phases and spaced out over 90-120 days. Short-term impacts include increased self-confidence, role clarity, social integration, and increased organizational fit. Long-term impacts include improved retention as employees feel more connected with purpose, increased productivity as they get up to speed faster, and higher levels of customer satisfaction with happy and engaged employees.

Many organizations rely on training and continuous learning to provide a competitive advantage. As the old saying goes: if you think training is expensive, try ignorance. The training process includes 6 stages:

Stage 1: Needs assessment – analyze the organization, people, and tasks for opportunities. Where do we need training?
Stage 2: Ensuring employees’ readiness for training – review attitudes and motivation and basic skills. Do they want to learn?
Stage 3: Creating a learning environment – what are the learning objectives and desired outcomes, make the material meaningful, and be prepared to provide feedback.
Stage 4: Ensuring transfer of training – have self-management strategies for employees, and peer and manager support.
Stage 5: Selecting training methods – select presentation methods, hands-on methods, and group or team-building methods.
Stage 6: Evaluating training programs – review the training outcomes and evaluate the design of the training process, and analyze the cost-benefit of training programs Did it work?.

Training can take many forms, and be delivered in different ways. This can be particularly challenging for small businesses without the infrastructure to manage the training process. Having said that, finding ways to assess where training is necessary, ensuring that an employee has the motivation to learn, and figuring out how to deliver that training, is incredibly important. Training contributes to competitive advantage by ensuring that employees have the skills to succeed in their current jobs, and importantly it can also prepare them for future positions.