4 Tips for Increasing Authenticity in your Onboarding Program

 

For several years now, I have had the (insanely fun) opportunity to consult with organizations and speak at conferences about the need for strategic, impactful onboarding and improving the new employee experience. I’ve had conversations over countless cups of coffee with HR leaders, training facilitators, talent development professionals and other industry friends about how to develop or reshape their organization’s onboarding program. Inevitably, the question arises:

I just want our onboarding program to be like yours! Can you just share your materials so I can use them?

(“Yours”  = the day job)

It’s true, our team has implemented an award-winning, internationally-recognized, results-minded onboarding program that has been the cherry on top of our Organizational Development sundae. And, yeah….I suppose I COULD just hand over our agenda, slide decks, templates and resources for you to plug-and-play at your day job.

But you would be lacking something. Something important. Something that your new employees and stakeholders would surely feel.

Your program would lack authenticity. 

Sure – imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, or so the saying goes. And perhaps certain elements of one company’s program could be integrated seamlessly into yours. I don’t claim that any of our organization’s onboarding program is unique by itself, but rather the intention, support and consistent execution coupled with innovative methods and a laser-focus on driving results are what truly determines our program’s long-term sustainability and success.

But as a longtime Talent Development geek professional (maybe I had it right the first time?), I know perfectly well that we all beg-borrow-and yes, steal ideas from each other all. the. time. The concept of idea-sharing is the very backbone of this blog, and so many others! So, how can you leverage some awesome ideas from other programs while ensuring yours is authentic? Here are 4 tips:

>> Don’t force it.

Maybe you learned about a super-cool idea that a colleague has implemented, and want to include it in your own program. Before jumping in immediately based on the cool factor, consider these factors to ensure relevance for your audience:

  • What is your colleague’s industry?
  • What are the employee demographics, schedules, geography, age and skill level?
  • What size is their organization?
  • Is it realistic for your program?

Ensuring that activities, events or other onboarding elements are a good fit are necessary to prevent content from feeling forced or misaligned with the audience.

>> Showcase what’s special.

What is unique about your organization or culture? Help your new employees forge a connection to the company, the team and their new roles. Maybe it’s the end-of-quarter Mimosa Monday celebrations, the annual Habitat for Humanity build or a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Find ways to share what your organization is doing, and how new employees can jump in and get involved.

And while you’re at it….

>> Who are your storytellers?

Whether it is your CEO personally welcoming your new employees on their first day, engaged employees sharing their personal experiences or hearing success stories from loyal customers, identify your raving fans and make their stories come alive during new employees’ crucial first days and weeks on the job. Deepen their attachment to the organization through a balance of relationships and results.

 

>> Align to your values

Someone once told me, “The only mission statement that matters is, ‘Have fun and make money.'” While a shred of that may hold true for most organizations, there are typically core values that serve as a compass for how organizations do business and make decisions. Aligning the content of your onboarding program with those unique drivers will help new employees embrace those values in their daily performance – both in those early weeks and months on the job, but also throughout their tenure with your organization.

 

There you have it, friends….beg, borrow and steal all the ideas you want, but make sure they make sense for your organization and people, and then make those ideas your own. Like spotting a bad toupee or a knockoff handbag from a street vendor, new employees can tell when a message isn’t genuine. And if they don’t figure it out in their first days on the job, they’ll discover it soon enough, which could put their long-term engagement and potential success on shaky ground.

Now, it’s your turn:

How do you ensure your new employees receive an authentic experience during their early days, weeks and months on the job? Please add a comment to share your ideas!

 


 

Wanna work together in 2018?

Between the launch of my book, Talent GPS: A Manager’s Guide to the Employee Development Journey, speaking engagements and consulting projects, 2017 has certainly whizzed by in a blur….and things are quickly ramping up for 2018. If an onboarding overhaul is on your to-do list for the coming year, let’s talk.

Now booking onsite workshops, retreat facilitation, conference sessions and more – availability is limited, so reserve your spot now!

 

 

 

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Pinterest for Onboarding: Part One

pinterest_for_onboarding

Ah, Pinterest.  The (addicting!) social media darling. This site has opened my eyes to everything from new recipes, to travel inspiration, to shoes and handbags (swoon!) and home decor ideas…and about 1001 other things.  I even post links to this blog and other things that inspire me on a Pinterest board.  Such fun!

Pinterest is still relatively young, only being launched in 2010. In fact, I am still given a confused look by some people when I mention it.  The site has been widely embraced by women (a whopping 80% of its users are female, according to recent studies), but major brands are finding ways to leverage its simple visual model to generate leads, engage customers, and share content.  I came across this great article with some really interesting information on how marketers are using Pinterest.  Since we, too, are marketers within our organizations, this got me thinking….

What about us?  Is Pinterest something that we can adopt and make part of our onboarding programs?  Our Learning & Development programs?

I think yes.

So, this afternoon, as I watched my beloved hometown Indianapolis Colts end their season by losing to the Baltimore Ravens (pout), I sat down with my favorite pen and brainstorming notebook, and came up with a few possible ways to use Pinterest to share links and educate prospective employees, engage new employees and connect with current employees. We’re going to be jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon over the next couple of posts – are you ready?!

To get started, here are a few ideas:

Board #1: Recruiting Team Resources

Your recruiting team can share their expertise on this board…everything from current job postings to articles on acing a job interview or networking best practices. Include links to everything a candidate would need to know to feel at ease for an interview with your organization.

Board #2: We Give Back (Social/Corporate Responsibility)

Does your company have a foundation?  Do you support a charitable organization?  Maybe you have an annual canned food drive.  Maybe your company adopts families during the holidays.  Maybe you’ve built houses with Habitat for Humanity.  Well, put it out there!  Post links to the organizations.  Post photos of employees in action, doing good in your community.  Not only does this give your company some “good press”, but it also gives incumbents a glimpse into what your organization stands for.  If the company lives by its Core Values, as many companies do, this is a great way to introduce candidates (not to mention prospects and customers) to those values and show them in action.

Board #3: A Day in the Life

What better way to let potential employees see what life is like in your organization, than to give them a visual tour?  Upload photos of employees working, playing, collaborating, talking and laughing.  If your company prides itself on its dynamic, youthful, or even quirky culture, this is a great way to showcase it.  From casual dress codes to video game tourneys to Happy Hour gatherings, document them all and pin ’em.  Incoming employees can peruse the photos, learn about the culture, and get EXCITED to start their new job!

The key here?  Be real. Not staged.

Board #4: Wellness Initiatives

Wellness is certainly en vogue these days.  Many talented people are seeking employers who encourage and contribute to healthy living; if this is your organization, it’s a great selling point for prospective employees.  Show  it off!  Post information and photos of your onsite fitness center, healthy snacks, running groups, and other noteworthy features your company has to offer.  As incumbents begin to imagine how they will fit in your organization and culture, they can also think about fitting that Tuesday morning onsite yoga class into their new schedules!

Board #5: Our Place in the Industry

A Pinterest board is a fantastic place to upload recorded webinars, podcasts and videos to give incumbents a one-stop shop for learning about your organization’s contribution to your industry.  You can also include links to notable blogs, key individuals in your organization/industry to follow on Twitter, and other resources to educate a new employee.

The span of time between accepting a job offer and the incumbent’s first day is when his engagement level is naturally very high.  He is trying to absorb as much information as possible to learn about his new organization, team and role.  Many times, the incumbent will go on a vague scavenger hunt, scouting out the company website and random LinkedIn profiles to find out nuggets of information. Pinterest can make this very simple for your new employee.  In a visually appealing way, you are presenting information about your industry, processes, and culture in a way that allows incumbents to explore on his own terms, at his own pace.  And yes, you can even make sure there is nothing proprietary out there, if that’s a concern.

The thing to keep in mind as you develop an onboarding program is that when you bring a new employee on board, you are not just adding a “worker” to the team; you are welcoming a whole person, who has needs that go beyond the bullet points that make up his job description.

Make it easy.  Make it engaging.  Make it count.

I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve on this topic…enough that one post was just not enough…so we’re going to dig deeper next time!  Until then, take a look at this example of a company that is using Pinterest, and doing it well.  I’ll admit, I’m a bit biased, as I used to work for this company and have a soft place in my heart for the people and culture!  I’m proud to be an alum of this fantastic company, so enjoy the peek into their very Orange world (you’ll see what I mean when you check out their board!).

Your turn: Are you a Pinterest user?  For personal or professional use? Have you thought about using Pinterest for your onboarding or learning programs?  Tell me all about it!

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