Onboarding challenges

The activity we used to call induction is now widely referred to as onboarding. It remains  a crucial part of the hiring process, challenging our HR professionals to integrate new employees into the business as quickly as possible. At The Brand Inside we recommend that each new hire be onboarded within their first 30 days. Beyond that point, the opportunity diminishes and informal onboarding (from colleagues) takes over. This usually means that established bad habits are passed on the next generation. 

 A positive onboarding experience can enhance an employee’s long-term productivity and their attitude towards the company, as well as increase the likelihood they will succeed in their role. I like to focus on the 4C’s of successful onboarding:

  • Culture – how we do things around here
  • Clarity of Role – defining individual job and performance expectations
  • Compliance – clear guidelines on relevant standards and policies
  • Connections – building the internal network you need to support your success

With Millennials already making up half the workforce, digital employee onboarding is no longer an optional extra, but something expected in a modern workplace. Millennials want their work experiences to match the standard of the digital products they’re accustomed to use in their daily lives. And modern employers want to use interactive technology to deliver more standardised onboarding experience to every new  joiner.

But an analogue approach to onboarding prevails in Africa. Trying to blend easily-outdated presentations delivered by time-poor managers, with varying types of ‘sit by me’ departmental visits. So there’s a great opportunity for African business to use technology to leap the gap (as we have done in so many fields of business and public administration).

Most organisations approach onboarding with a one-size-fits-all solution, dealing with employees of all seniority levels in the same way. However, we know that Millennial and Generation Z employees favour automated experiences that give them the feeling the onboarding process has been personalised to their needs, with engaging and relevant content.

As with so many aspects of digital transformation, technology is not the problem. There are plenty of off-the-shelf software solutions and employee engagement App choices. The problem is creativity. We simply don’t have the resources to dramatise truly engaging content. Arguably we never had it in Human Resources, because our analogue professionals were trained to write policy documents. The pinnacle of their achievement: to produce a hard copy HR manual. Exhausting to compile: never truly finished. And almost universally ignored by anyone except those who drafted it.

Now’s the time to find creative people, who specialise in internal communications and not advertising, to help us to address this challenge.

Chris Harrison leads The Brand Inside 


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