Your employees are the heart and soul of your company. Scratch that—they are your company: not just the heart and soul, but the spine, hands, knees, eyes, ears, pancreas… You get the idea.
As with anything made of different components, the functioning of your company as a whole depends on the health of its parts. A bad knee or a broken hand or a swollen pancreas can incapacitate an entire body; a disengaged, confused, or poorly performing employee can drag down an entire organization.
That’s one key lesson we learned from Debra Muchow an executive consultant who has worked with organizations of all sizes—from Fortune 500 companies such as Intel and Nike to emerging tech startups. We recently spoke with Debi about what the general truths she’s discovered about building effective onboarding and training programs for all kinds of companies, and we thought we’d share her thoughts with you today.
Take it away, Debra!
To develop an effective onboarding program, you need to think beyond onboarding. Look at the lifecycle of an employee. It starts with recruiting, and then hiring, and then onboarding, and then training, and additional training, and then what I call the “care” and “feeding” of the employee. While they’re with the company, all the way up to when they leave that company—whether they leave in 1 year, 5 years, 20 years; or retire—whatever it happens to be, the best way to get better impact from any of those stages is to think of them as part of a cycle.
You could have a great onboarding program: Employees feel welcomed, needed and appreciated at the company the day they walk in. They understand how the business works. They’re given the perfect tour, they’re given the right training in their first 90 days to 6 months, they’re given the right assignments. They’re getting the right coaching and attention from their managers.
But if you haven’t paid attention during the recruiting and hiring process, you could be spending 90 days to 6 months putting all this time and energy into someone who should have never been hired in the first place—because your recruiting and hiring processes were lax and not robust enough to catch the signs that indicate the employee’s not a really good match. Many times, an issue doesn’t show up until someone’s on the job, because it wasn’t addressed during the hiring process.
Here’s another example: You could have the most outstanding onboarding process, but once the person has been on the job for 90 days to 6 months, and they have a terrible manager, or their assignments are not clear or inspiring at all, or they don’t understand the strategy of the company, it could break down.
It’s an ecosystem. Think about an employee’s lifecycle in biological terms: first, you have a little egg, then it turns into a fish. You have to look at that lifecycle and assess your organization against it: What does a good recruiting and hiring program look like, and what should the outputs be? What does a good onboarding program look like, and what should those outcomes be? What does a good management look like? What about the company should people know?
If you look at turnover trends over the last 20 years, one of the top reasons people leave a company is because they don’t like their manager. That really hasn’t changed. You need to determine the components of onboarding that work for your organization and have some proof of concept in other organizations—there’s a million books out there—and then see how that works with your organization, tweaking along the way.
It’s also important to note that a lot of companies don’t conduct any ongoing evaluations of their onboarding processes. They have all the bells and whistles, but 60 days later, they just think, “we checked the box—we onboarded that person,” as opposed to taking a little bit of time to go back and ask these employees: “What was good? What’s working? What were the gaps and how can we make it better next time?” I’m a huge believer in evaluating what you do.
Ready to evaluate your company’s performance? Compli has the tools you need to track, assign, and improve on your onboarding and training programs—with detailed, up-to-the-minute reporting, online training features, and much more. Learn about how our workforce compliance products save time, reduce turnover, and keep employees happy.