Do we really need an induction revolution?

Onboarding represents the most extraordinary opportunity to build your optimal company climate from the ground up. Unfortunately, it’s usually sidelined as a time-draining chore – and it often does more harm than good.

FACT: 22% of companies have no formal onboarding system.
FACT: It typically takes up to 8 months for a new starter to reach full productivity.
FACT: 33% of new starters look for a new job within 6 months on the job

…but 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years or more if they experience great onboarding. FACT.

Onboarding has been getting worse…

While induction programmes have barely evolved in 20 years, businesses have only become more complex and fast-moving. Nowadays, the PowerPoint slides are out of date before they even make it into the new starter pack.

But rather than being prioritised, onboarding is increasingly being relegated as a purely technical task. People rarely receive training on the behaviours that will make them truly ready for the job. Little time is spent on sparking their personal passion for the company mission, or fast-tracking essential competencies.

But boy, is their email password strong.

Unfortunately, even the functional stuff is foundering.

Most organisations’ processes and technologies are changing so fast that their inductions simply can’t keep up.

How do you onboard when companies won’t stay still?

That’s the million dollar question – literally. The average cost of replacing an employee is between 16 and 20% of their salary. With attrition rates rising, that means organisations are haemorrhaging money into the gap between why new hires join, and what their employee experience really feels like.

There’s also the gap between what existing employees know, and what new starters are being taught. Test your workforce on the information provided during induction, and you’ll get, on average, four right answers out of ten. People who have been in the company for years might never have had an induction. Or they could well be using new processes and systems that they’ve never thought to discuss with L&D.

An onboarding process for the whole company

The question isn’t just about how to build an agile, responsive onboarding process. It’s: how do you build an onboarding process that inspires, informs and engages your entire workforce – not just the people who are new?

It requires a big shift in the way leaders view the whole idea of onboarding. What was once a functional HR task becomes an L&D programme with the power to continually test, tweak and align the entire organisation’s behaviours and values.

There are five unique approaches that underpin this new style of onboarding:

1. It’s agile and quick to update. It’s pointless designing hours of digital learning on systems and processes that will change within a month.

2. It starts early. Few organisations exploit the valuable time before new joiners join.

3. It’s critical and high volume. The Pareto principle states that, more often than not, 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. Identify which crucial 20% of the learning needs to happen up front, and design your induction around that.

4. It’s social and collaborative. New employees are able to share, compare and support.

5. It’s led by the customer journey. What’s the most valuable customer journey for you – and how can you train to make sure those key conversations and skills show up?

Customer-led onboarding

It’s more agile and more human. And it gets much better results.

We begin by identifying a customer’s top reasons for contact, then build a learning experience which explores how to meet their needs and motivations at every turn. Training in products, systems and processes gets plugged in only where it meets that customer experience.

In this way we can start to develop an induction programme that always puts people at the centre of the learning.

Then the way the learning is delivered is tailored to the unique individual undergoing the training.

Finally, lots of other people – existing employees, leaders and fellow new starters – are invited to support each stage of the journey… and learn from it in turn.

Step One: Prejoining.

Pre-joining is such an underexploited time. Your new talent is having their first experience of your organisation. They’re curious, motivated and porous. And this is where some fresh technology can really have an impact.

Digital tools are exciting and we like to use them if and where they can add unique value to face–to–face training. Enter tessello, a platform that allows employees to be part of an organisation before they’ve even walked through the door. It’s purposefully non-corporate, a familiar digital experience for a digitally native audience.

It gives new starters a consistent, coherent experience of your brand from the off. It helps them feel part of a community, both of their peers and other cohorts. It’s a safe, personalised space where individuals can explore content and test the waters of their new climate.

Step Two: Training. How is it different?

When your learners are in their intensive upscaling period, we want to make the experience as easy and stimulating as possible.

However you design it, this can be a challenging time for new starters. They’re deluged with a massive information overload, and they’re feeling the pressure as they navigate different elements of this new climate every day.

That’s why we incorporate all our expertise in organisational and individual psychology to make this period feel as integrated and useful as possible. Information is only drip-fed at a time when they’re actually working through a customer journey that needs it. Tests focus on real world outcomes, so they feel connected to the job in hand.

This means they’re not just learning stuff – they’re learning service. The kind of skills and behaviours that will last well beyond a week.

Step Three: Ongoing Learning

The ‘grad bay’ is famously prone to becoming a wasteland of unwatched videos and outdated PDFs. We use it as a live testing ground.

Effective learning isn’t about delivering chunks of information, then hoping they sink in. It’s a never-ending feedback loop: research, design, deliver, test, tweak, deliver again.

There’s always more to learn. Fresh developments to get your head round. About-turns. Updated technologies. New science-backed techniques. We turn this common stumbling block into a strength – using it as an excuse to understand what’s working and what’s not, and to continually re-engage with employees new and old.

It’s all about climate

Climate – the real secret to successful onboarding – is barely mentioned in traditional induction literature. Perhaps it’s because it contains this uncomfortable message: onboarding must start at the top of the tree.

Nowadays, onboarding will only be effective if it is designed to build a thoroughgoing climate of learning in the company. Employee by employee. Leader by leader.

To make a really good induction work, you have to re-examine the line manager’s role and responsibility. When it comes to onboarding, leaders must not just ask what makes a good learning experience, but what makes a good service experience. They must apply that feedback loop, and fastinnovation mentality, to the work they do – not just the learning they provide.

Key features

Pre-joiner engagement:
strike while the iron’s hot!

maximise the benefits of digital & face-to-face

because every new starter is unique

just-in-time learning and resources

Rich media & games:
engaging, entertaining, experiential

help your people to learn from each other

PCs, tablets and smartphones

check progress and feedback at key stages

We’re really good at what we do.

Together. With our clients.

We call it high-impact excellence. In other words – partnering, creating, supporting, delivering, increasing, solving, training, reducing, transforming, leading, award-winning.

Take a look…

Objectives: Improve customer service; increase market share; decrease waste.

Audience: M&S food halls staff

Solution: Blended:

  • E-learning
  • Workbook
  • Key fob
  • Learning platform
  • Face-to-face

Results: Store manager surveys highlighted significant behavioural change among customer assistants.

The biggest brands learn with Brightwave.