Onboarding with impact

Since starting at Caburn Hope, I have found myself exposed to some pretty impressive onboarding programmes. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for example, have a whole online portal dedicated simply to the step by step journey of onboarding for the new hire. Collectively, this has got me thinking: why have an onboarding programme? What are the advantages of onboarding, and what can businesses do to ensure that they make the most of it? 

Take a look at our infographic, or alternatively, click on the image for some quick tips on how to make your onboarding programme more effective.

1. Set the tone:

As onboarding includes such a wide variety of processes and experiences, it can sometimes feel disconnected and anodyne. So often, it is seen as a tick box exercise – a necessary evil to get the new starter up and running as quickly as possible. This is where organisations miss a crucial opportunity to inspire their new people. 

As we know from the piles of research available, the more people buy into what you stand for as an organisation, the more likely they are to put their heart and soul into their role – and ultimately – their performance.

Employees who felt that their onboarding was highly effective were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organisation.*

So, how can you make the most of your onboarding programme? Make it personal - showcase what is unique to your company and tailor the experience to the new hire. After all, this is a two-way thing. 

2. Bring out the inner child:

Onboarding should also be fun! Find the balance between being informative and not bombarding the new hire to the point of confusion. Weave the culture of your organisation into everything your new people see.  

I was listening to a podcast with the Chief People Officer at Lego Group recently, who said that they ask new recruits to express what they’ll bring to the business through the medium of Lego! This might not be right for everyone (no names) but the concept is absolutely right.  

3. Think about emotion:

One reason why some businesses do not onboard their employees as effectively as they could is that they overlook the vital role that emotion plays in the process. It’s a period of high energy, great change and untapped potential.  

A great example of capturing this energy was a global entertainment company who reinvigorated their onboarding branding by developing an exciting and immersive look and feel. This emotionally connected with their new employees - putting them in the moment. 

4. Make the most of the build up:

Onboarding should happen prior to day one. The energy of nervousness and excitement can be harnessed to engage with the new employee and bring them up to speed with the role. Expectations can be managed, and the new hire can begin to live and breathe what is set out in your Employee Value Proposition.  

Giving early access to relevant resources will ensure that day one will be both productive and less daunting. Businesses invest heavily in recruiting the best talent (e.g. attracting the top graduates), yet onboarding can be the first hurdle on which they fall. Onboarding shouldn’t be managed in isolation – it should dovetail perfectly with your recruitment strategy so that employees benefit from a seamless experience.  

Take a holistic approach to onboarding by working with your peers across the HR function and identifying opportunities to improve the experience. An international hotel chain updated their recruitment site with new branding and messaging, and at the same time reviewed their onboarding materials to reflect these updates - a great example of looking at the bigger picture. 

5. Before you go…

Don’t forget to ensure managers have everything they need to take ownership of the onboarding experience. Google managed to increase the effectiveness of their onboarding programs by 25% through ensuring managers followed the onboarding process. Line managers are such a crucial channel for communication – particularly at this early stage.


*Source: BambooHR survey, 2018