Employee-Oriented Onboarding Gaining in Popularity

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If you’re a recent IT/engineering grad who finally landed a job, the last thing you want to deal with after four or five years of term papers and lectures is more of the same. Unfortunately, most companies expect you to do just that—fill out acres of forms and sit through boring presentations about company culture.


The good news is that some companies have finally gotten the message and jettisoned their onboarding procedures to ease the transition from campus to corporate. New hires in these forward thinking companies enjoy everything from co-worker networking sessions to office-wide scavenger hunts.


Onboarding can be extremely important for creating an initial positive image of a company. Studies reveal that the initial few weeks can influence whether an employee stays or goes. "(It’s) the first time the employee has the ability to look at a job from the inside," says David Earle, chief executive of Staffing.org.


Morgan Hoogvelt, director of talent acquisition at Clear Channel Communications in San Antonio, believes in a more organized onboarding process. This includes pairing new staffers with "peer coaches" who can answer questions before new hires officially start work. "There are only two days you really remember on the job—the first day and your last," says Hoogvelt.


A 2011 survey of corporate onboarding practices by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed many companies simply lack the time to provide formal programs for new hires. Those that do, offer staid orientations on corporate values and culture. What’s needed are onboarding programs that allow new hires to show what they can contribute to the company.


"When we can stress the personal identity of people, and let them bring more of themselves at work, they are more satisfied with their job and have better performance," says Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School.


When Google onboarded 5,000 new hires in 2012, known as "Nooglers," they were allowed to make more social connections and ramp up to productivity faster. Among Google’s discoveries was that employees who passed through orientation in groups of no more than 12 felt more at ease and bonded better than those in larger groups.


“Digital natives and millennials have high expectations,” says Jennifer Trzepacz, former head of HR at Living Social. “The environment they have in their outside world (is what) they want in their professional world. Creating those types of experiences are important to making them feel comfortable and to help them assimilate quickly into a company setting.”


Living Social does a number of things to make newbie engineers feel at home and fit in. This may include a box of a dozen cupcakes, a bottle of wine, lunch with senior management, an assigned “buddy,” at-home coaching, automated reminders to prod their manager to check in with them and even an all-expense paid trip to the company’s Washington, D.C. headquarters.


If you’re tired of boring, impersonal company orientations, consider joining a firm like Google or Living Social, where onboarding takes on a whole new meaning.


Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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