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        Strategic Onboarding Increases Business Success

        For decades, most organizations thought of onboarding as a basic housekeeping item, akin to filling out tax withholding paperwork, having a picture taken for a badge, getting a uniform or signing for a handbook. In reality, true onboarding encompasses much more. It’s considerably more strategic than tactical, including all processes required to successfully integrate a new employee into an organization.

        When done properly, strategic onboarding plays a critical role in the swift transformation of a new recruit into an effective team member. This process acquaints new employees with their responsibilities and roles, the organization's culture and the expectations that the organization and employee have of each other. A well-designed onboarding process should be custom-tailored to the individual needs of each worker and the broader objectives of the organization, serving as a crucial strategy for minimizing turnover, accelerating time to productivity and promoting a positive work atmosphere.

        When implemented effectively, strategic onboarding takes time. In a prior life I implemented onboarding software, helping customers design their processes to be as easy ‒ and finished as quickly ‒ as possible. We know now that was not the best approach. To be fair, technology has made the completion of required tasks like paperwork signing, benefits selection and Day 1 orientation a much smoother process, and that’s a good thing. But effective onboarding should last weeks to months, by design.

        Engagement of new hires is key during the onboarding process. Organizations spend exorbitant amounts of time and money recruiting top talent but often forget that getting them is only the first hurdle. Equal resources must be invested in proper engagement of new hires once they set foot in the front door. This is not just a “feel-good” activity. Our research shows that organizations without a formal and personalized onboarding program suffer real financial loss through higher regrettable attrition, early attrition and longer time to productivity.

        Investing the time to clearly communicate the company's vision and values early on, experientially, ensures that new hires comprehend their role and contribution within the organization. Setting clear, time-based expectations, facilitating relationship-building with other team members and encouraging open communication are all strategies that promote a sense of engagement and commitment.

        The first stage in creating a strategic onboarding plan is to clearly define the objectives. These can range from reducing turnover rates and enhancing employee engagement to improving overall performance metrics. Once the goals are determined, employers must critically examine the existing onboarding process and identify areas that might require improvement to help achieve the stated goals. Focusing on the specific steps and resources, human or otherwise, is necessary to achieve the stated objectives.

        There are a few best practices that should be considered for an effective onboarding process. Foremost is the clear definition of the onboarding procedure, ensuring all stakeholders understand the process and are aware ofVR_2023_Assertion_Talent_Strategic_Onboarding_Tech_14_S their roles. The second is harnessing the power of technology to streamline the process and make it more efficient. We assert that by 2025, three-quarters of human resource leaders will expect technology to amplify the strategic objectives of their onboarding process and compress time to productivity as well as team and cultural immersion. As previously mentioned, personalization of the experience is crucial to make the process meaningful and create a welcoming atmosphere from the start.

        Lastly, prescheduled periodic follow-ups to measure progress to completion are required to ensure continued engagement, allow opportunity for adjustment and signal to the employee that the organization is committed to his success. While this may seem tedious and difficult to enforce as weeks turn into months, digital tools have been a game-changer for onboarding. Manual, paper-based processes have been transformed into streamlined and efficient project plans, with touchpoints and communications baked-in. Automating repetitive tasks, such as sending welcome emails, creating employee files and tracking paperwork, saves considerable time and money while simultaneously enhancing the experience for new hires.

        Organizations battling high turnover and low engagement have a golden opportunity to make measurable improvements by transforming onboarding processes from tactical to strategic. With thorough planning and execution of the onboarding process, new team members feel genuinely welcomed and supported, helping confirm their decision to join the organization as they transition more easily into their new roles. Effective, longer-term onboarding helps foster a positive workplace environment and bolsters overall productivity. I urge employers to make it a business imperative to critically reevaluate investments in new-hire onboarding and the technologies used to support it.


        Quincy Valencia


        Ventana Research

        Ventana Research, now part of Information Services Group (ISG), is the most authoritative and respected market research and advisory services firm focused on improving business outcomes through optimal use of people, processes, information and technology. Since our beginning, our goal has been to provide insight and expert guidance on mainstream and disruptive technologies. In short, we want to help you become smarter and find the most relevant technology to accelerate your organization's goals.


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