Disruptive Onboarding?


The expression “Disruptive Innovation” has been all over the interwebs lately. Are you familiar with the concept?

It was first coined by Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor. According to Christensen’s website, Disruptive Innovation “describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

What are some common disruptors? Well, here are a few that come to mind:

  • Cellphones/smartphones disrupted the landline telephone business
  • Companies like Über and Lyft have disrupted the taxicab business
  • eBooks and eReaders have disrupted libraries, bookstores and newsstands
  • Netflix, Hulu and Redbox have disrupted the way we watch TV and movies

These are just a few examples – you’re probably thinking of a dozen others, like the ones featured in this interesting article from Mashable.

Simply put, “disruptive innovation” is all about shaking things up. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, particularly when it comes to the topic of onboarding.

Disruptive onboarding? Hmm. I like the sound of that…..

How can we shake up the new employee experience in our organizations?

Three things to address:

1. The onboarding process itself

Take a good, hard look at your onboarding process. Is it the same process your organization has been using for years? Maybe it’s time to break down the process – from the day the offer is extended through the end of the full onboarding period – whatever that might look like for your organization. Tear it down to the studs and build it back up, if necessary.

2. The tools you use to facilitate the process

This includes technical tools, social media and other facilitation methods for making onboarding a learning experience for your newest team members. Think 70-20-10. Make it active. Help new employees establish relationships. Provide resources for self-directed and formal learning.

3. The value onboarding adds to the organization

What is your value proposition? How are you contributing to your company’s vision, mission, values and strategic business drivers? If you don’t know, find out. Now. And then connect the dots, making the value blatantly obvious for your stakeholders – executives, business partners, hiring managers and the new employees themselves.


Onboarding should not be static. As your organizational landscape evolves, so should your program. In this case, “disruption” is a good thing. Disrupt the status quo – even if it’s done through subtle changes over time! Where could your onboarding program use some disruption?

Your turn: What will the next iteration of your onboarding program be? How will you get there? Share your disruptive ideas in the comments below!


Know some folks who need to disrupt onboarding in their organizations? Be kind and share this post with them!


Need some help with the disruption?

Drop a note today and learn more about phase(two)learning’s Onboarding Audit package. Now scheduling dates for Fall 2014 and beyond!

2 thoughts on “Disruptive Onboarding?

  1. Brent Jameson says:

    I truly believe that the company’s culture drives the Onboarding Process and the Technology that we can use to improve and “Disrupt” the process.

    I used to work for an Oil and Gas Company that was hiring 30 to 40 employees a month. We spent countless hours and tons of money processing our new hires. We would overnight the new hire package which was packed full of forms, policies, procedures, and insurance information. It was a stressful process to complete the packet as an employee and as the HR Manager I then had to process all the forms, contact the hiring manager or employee because the I-9 form was not completed correctly or there where missing forms.

    I was tasked with finding something better. This is when the “Disruptive Innovation” began. I researched several Onboarding Companies which had a lot of bells and whistles and are good for some but not all. This is where our company’s culture drove what type of system we needed. We didn’t need an ATS, resume database, job posting, or applicant assessment system because most of our candidates where local to the field office and came through referrals. We needed a system that could eliminate our new hire paperwork, reduce our time to hire, streamline the process, and enhance the new hire process for our candidates.

    I designed and built a system for our company and I loved it so much that I now share it with other HR professionals in hopes that is can save them time and money when hiring their employees and can be a “Disruptive Innovation” in HR Onboarding.

    Brent Jameson, PHR
    HR Onboarding Solutions

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Brent,

      Great example! You hit the nail on the head. At the core, I believe disruptive innovation is simply about “finding something better” – and it sounds like you did exactly that to improve the experience for new employees in your organization, while keeping the best interests of the business in mind. And it sounds like you found a great niche for yourself as well with the system – congrats! :)

      Thanks for sharing – much appreciated!

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