The onboarding opportunity

Sophie Doust /
eLearning, General, LMS

How technology is paramount to a successful onboarding strategy

Whatever your perspective or experience of onboarding (or induction) to a new place of work, one thing is for sure – like everything else emerging technology is giving it a serious shake-up and with change, comes opportunity. Changing the nightmarish urban-myths of being abandoned in a dark office on your first day with myriads of files to consume, to the competitive edge of technically driven onboarding experiences to recruit and retain the crème de la crème of candidates.

Onboarding is traditionally defined as simply the process of new employees completing paperwork, being orientated in their work space and learning about the policies and culture of the organisation. However, as working patterns (flexible, remote, home, global) and demand (increased competition for workforce) have broken the mould of the traditional 9am to 5pm workplace, onboarding has had to redefine itself too.

The process has become as much about listening to the new starters’ needs (as learners) and engaging them as employees, as it is about informing them of the organisations needs and expectations. Elements such as welcome lunches, participation in webinars, setting career goals on learning systems and connecting with mentor opportunities are all are becoming more common within onboarding programmes.

Organisations realise the value that successful onboarding brings, not only in attracting but also retaining employees. As austerity and global recessions have heightened budget-scrutiny, it is more important than ever to get the right person for the right job. The value and kudos in more intangible company assets such as cultural and lifestyle aspects are also being realised too. Where some companies can’t compete by more traditional methods of attracting candidates i.e. salary (public and third sector in particular), other elements of the job and organisation that are attractive need to be communicated in the best possible way from the outset i.e. the induction.

As the back-drop of technology within learning evolves at a rapid pace too, with it comes change and commercial opportunity to the onboarding landscape. The emergence of digital learning platforms has widened the scope and opportunity available to engage, onboard and even pre-board employees i.e. gain engagement or “sign up” from new starters before they even step foot inside their new place of work.

Technology knows no bounds of language, time zone or geography and with it comes the power to reach out into the homes and lives of new starters. Engaging and teaching them about everything from the cultures and values of the organisation to where their nearest coffee machine is and how to apply for annual leave. All this, at their fingertips, from the comfort of their own home – or on the bus – wherever it suits them.

As onboarding itself is becoming a more honed part of the L&D function, recognition that it is a strategic element and therefore potential influencer in key performance (KPIs) and ROI indicators of a business, is also becoming more apparent.

Graph for 'Organizations seeing increased KPIs over past year'

From the new starters’ perspective, the onboarding process is a first impression of their new employer and we all know you never get a second chance to make one of those. It’s a pre-cursor, giving an insight into how they will be nurtured as life-long-learners within the organisation going forward. For the organisation, onboarding is expensive averaging over 10% voluntary new hire attrition in year 1, the pressure to get it right is very real.

More and more studies are proving the theory that effective onboarding can have major positive business impact. Industry research leaders Brandon Hall cite “those with mature onboarding are, on average 83% more likely to see increases in key performance indicators and almost twice as likely to have practices that are strategic and effective”. Mature organisations are defined below, with onboarding effectiveness strongly correlating to maturity level.

Graph showing four levels of maturity

Powerful stats, and Brandon Hall go on to cite technology as the game-changer.

“Onboarding technology also increases the chances for increases in KPIs. Organisations using a technology solution are 167% more likely to see an increase in employee retention and 60% more likely to see an increase in employee engagement. Though the other impacts are more modest, it reinforces the importance of technology”

Image showing the use of onboarding technology. 17% of level 1&2 are yes and 48% from Level 3&4 are yes

Put simply, effective organisations now onboard using technology.

Graph of effectiveness of onboarding practices (effective and very effective)

It seems a no-brainer then for companies, and specifically their L&D function, to leverage the opportunity presented with onboarding to step into the era of learning technology and take the leap to digital onboarding. So much is to be gained. For as Charles Darwin said, “it is not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive, but the one who is most adaptable to change”.

Our glo™ learn LMS is the perfect place to onboard your team using engaging, personalised digital learning experiences with our award-winning Visual Learning Journeys.  Get in touch using the form below for a free demo and more information.


Brandon Hall Group’s Report: 2017 Evolution of Onboarding Study
The Positive Impact of Mature, Strategic Onboarding. KnowledgeGraphic, Brandon Hall Group
Impact of Technology on Onboarding Success. KnowledgeGraphic, Brandon Hall Group

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