Strategic Onboarding: Does Your New Hire Training Need Updating?

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1 You know that a good new hire training program is key to your employee retention goals. After all,  the average attrition of first-year employees is 13 percent and almost a third of employees employed for fewer than six months are already searching for a new job (Stein & Christiansen, 2010). This is a huge loss to organizations in terms of productivity, retention, and knowledge—not to mention recruiting time and cost. So how do you know if your employee onboarding program is part of the problem?

Here are the top five signs your new hire training program may need an update that we’ve seen from the organizations we work with:

  • Employee attrition is high, especially within the first two years
  • Hiring managers are frustrated because new employee productivity is taking longer than expected
  • Employees aren’t knowledgeable about corporate culture and processes, and they make preventable mistakes
  • New employee motivation starts out strong, but then wanes quickly after initial training
  • Your new hire training program doesn’t have measurable goals that map to business outcomes and it doesn’t track for employee status at specific milestones

Most organizations fall somewhere along this spectrum; very few are disastrously under-performing. But is your training program for new hires doing all that it can? Savvy organizations know that employee onboarding isn’t just about providing logistics and benefit information—it’s also a strategic investment in each and every employee to set them up for success and positive engagement within the company. These are our guidelines for ensuring onboarding success:

Align new hire training to business strategies.

Think about employee development overall, and not just orientation. Ensure that your program has measurable goals and outcomes that are aligned to business outcomes and can be tracked throughout the employee lifecycle.

Incorporate one-on-one learning.

Although only 10% of learning is retained through reading, 75% of learning is retained through on-the-job experiences. Classroom and e-learning can provide a foundation, but extended, field-based learning from other employees is essential for performance success.

Continuous learning.

People learn best in smaller pieces over an extended period of time because providing all of the information they need up front, at the beginning, will result in information overload. And most jobs are a fairly complicated process that becomes even more complex as products and environments change over time. Ensure the onboarding window is open for at least the first year to ensure adequate knowledge retention and support, but maintain a continuous training environment to ensure maximum performance.

Individualized training.

Because no two people learn alike and employees come with different levels of experience, efficient onboarding needs a personalized approach. Part of this should incorporate avenues that allow access to peers for follow-up help so that new employees feel empowered to ask for the guidance they need.

Enable network development.

To be successful, new hire employees need support to build and maintain connections across your company; peers for information, and culture share; cross-functional stakeholders for knowledge; coaches for skill development; and mentors for career development. Employees have varying levels of comfort with self-initiated contact, so a company-designed, guided approach  is most effective. This helps new hires feel assimilated and engaged with your company culture.

Consider using software to accomplish these goals with your training programs. One of our customers is a medical equipment company with a large field-based sales organization. They’re using Chronus software for onboarding to develop, manage, and then measure the results of an in-depth program that combines classroom training, 1:1 coaching, and field experience for a more effective sales training program.

We hope this article has given you a few ideas on how you can improve the effectiveness of your strategic onboarding. By building a strong new hire program, your organization will quickly realize how sharp skills, long-term knowledge retention, and better employee engagement will truly affect the corporate bottom line. For more information on improving your onboarding, be sure to read our guide, “How to Make Your Employee Onboarding Program Strategic & Effective.”

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