Studies show new employees who attend a well-structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay with the organization after 3 years. But a large number of organizations surveyed by SHRM said their onboarding efforts lasted less than a week. Why? Most companies don’t have enough HR resources or their existing staff can’t take time off from their regular work to help onboard new staff.
Organizations are using online mentoring programs to get past these issues for successful onboarding. Online mentoring programs connect those in the know with those who need to know. They also allow you to connect employees regardless of geographic location, which helps expand your pool of possible participants.
Here are a few tips on how you can use online mentoring to make your onboarding program a success:
- Plan, prepare and automate: Start by clearly chalking out your onboarding program. Then, transfer the elements of your plan into an online mentoring program format. Create process workflows for your participants and automate guidance to make it easy. You’ll find that investing a little time in automation goes a long way. As, Jennifer Taylor Arnold points out in her article in SHRM Magazine; automation “can help companies provide a better onboarding experience that requires less staff time and often less expense”.
- Help new hires make a connection: Creating strong mentor-mentee relationships is the key to success while using online mentoring for onboarding. Ask current staff who’d be happy to help new employees, to take on the role of mentors. Gather a range of mentors who can help new hires with various aspects of settling-in and getting-up-to-speed. Then encourage your mentors and mentees (new hires) to share as much information about themselves on their online profiles. This will help the online mentoring system match new hires to mentors with whom they will vibe well. Also make sure that the new hire’s manager is one of his or her mentors. This will keep the manager in the loop and gradually create a rapport between the manager and new employee.
- Make it a community effort: Online mentoring systems make it really easy for new hires and existing employees to communicate, interact and share knowledge both individually and as a community. So set the ball rolling by encouraging mentors to start online discussions and post or import relevant articles. Introduce your new hires to online topical forums and Q&A boards that are open to the whole community. By encouraging the whole community to engage you will multiply the value of mentoring. This takes the stress off mentors who basically need to focus on their regular work. For more tips to increase interaction within your community, read Steve’s recent blog post.
- Ask for feedback: Don’t wait till the ‘exit interview’. In fact, don’t even wait till the ‘stay interview’. Use online surveys, to get new hires, mentors and managers to share their views. This helps keep track of each new employee’s progress and throws light on any extra help they may need. This way you can also check how your onboarding program is faring and immediately go online to iron out any problems.
Onboarding is a way of reaching out to your new employees to say you care. In our experience online mentoring gives you that perfect combination of personal engagement and automation that helps you really care for your new hires, but with minimal effort.
We’d also like to hear about your experiences, views, problems and success stories related to onboarding – do share your comments.