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Best Practices for Employee Training and Onboarding

July 14, 2015

11:00 am

Remember the first few months in your last corporate job? If you do, that’s probably not a good sign. Like user experience in any software, the most effective onboarding is the transparent kind, that the employee doesn’t feel like they need to “handle” or “deal with”. And like with user experience – it takes a lot of time and effort to plan transparent and effective employee training.

What drives employees in the workplace?

The good news is – it’s an effort well rewarded. The employee churn rate in all industries in the US is around 15%. According to HCI, the main reasons for leaving a workplace are:

  • Interpersonal relationships (with direct supervisor and/or colleagues)
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Working conditions and benefits

While there is little you can do about an employee’s social preferences in the workplace – growth and working conditions are very much related to a sense of meaning and fulfillment that employees aspire to in their professional life. That sense of meaning is heavily impacted by how much an employee feels she or he is being groomed, how much effort is being put into their growth by the organization. Which brings us back to onboarding.

Why we need onboarding?

If you combine the aforementioned churn rates with the fact that an estimated 70% of employees decide whether or not to stay at their workplace within their first 6 months on the job – the inevitable conclusion is that the first few months are critical for engaging new employees and assuring them of the organization’s commitment to their professional growth and success.

The essence of onboarding is to pass on organizational knowledge in an effective way through connecting with the employee and cultivating their affiliation with the organization and loyalty. How do we go about doing that?

1. Make a training plan. Have a scope.

This item may sound trivial, but it is hard to believe how many corporate organizations simply leave the onboarding process up to some natural organizational evolution. The general assumption is that employees will learn organizational structure and flows by osmosis from their immediate environment and demand training for any outstanding skills or software they may need. This method of un-planning and relying on default contingency is unhealthy, both for morale and for long-term productivity.

A few employee onboarding tips to get the ball rolling:

  • Design a proactive training plan, sending a clear message to your new talent – we put a lot of thought into welcoming you into the organization
  • Make sure to include organizational structure, so as to provide the employee with the big picture.
  • Work with the new recruit’s manager to list all the software applications she or he will need to know

2. Leverage the change factor

The first few weeks in a person’s challenging new environment are often accompanied by a remarkable learning curve – the adrenaline rush comes with keener senses and a more acute comprehension ability. The employee is ready, willing and able to consume new information. It’s up to you to make the most of this window of opportunity.

3. Make a SMART plan

While an eager mind absorbs a large amount of information, its owner still needs hands-on practice to process the newly acquired material effectively. Space out training programs over several weeks. This gives the trainee an opportunity to process what they have learned and apply it to actual work.

Another insightful practice is to prioritize software applications by importance to the employee’s position and familiarity with the organization. For instance: a salesperson needs to learn how to handle the CRM straight away. A middle manager may need access to ERP reports, but perhaps that can wait until they are more comfortable with the workflows they are part of.

 

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Eyal, CEO of Iridize, has been developing software for almost 20 year now, having led R&D teams at RSA, the network security division of EMC (NYSE: EMC) & ZoomInfo. Eyal is a true believer in making the digital world accessible to all, and in the power of good onboarding to do that. Eyal holds an MBA from Tel Aviv University, is happily married and father to 3 kids and a dog.

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