An overview of onboarding programs and technologies that speed up employee integration
Newbies in the office. We’ve all worked with them or even been them at some point. Regardless of experience, almost anyone can relate to being overwhelmed with different procedures, unfamiliar protocols and an alien culture that comes with a new job.
Depending on the skill set required for the job and the size of the organization and position in question, it is not uncommon for candidates to take weeks or even months to adapt to their new roles and responsibilities. This is of course more prevalent when dealing with fresh graduates, but even with more experienced joiners, knowledge relating to company culture, stakeholders, offerings and processes still needs to be acquired.
This ‘lost time’ not only affects new joiners’ productivity but also the teams that work around them and have to invest time into helping them get up to speed with things. When this is multiplied over many recruits, the new joiner’s learning curve – accepted as an inevitable fact of life at work – can turn out to be a very expensive hidden cost for the organization.
This is a challenge frequently faced in the Arabian Gulf countries, where it is common practice to regularly take in large numbers of fresh graduates, especially in the banking and public sector. A streamlined onboarding program is therefore an essential consideration in ensuring successful integration of these new individuals.
Mentor Global Consultants has created and managed numerous orientation and onboarding programs in the region, and our experience has shown that there are a number of aspects that need to be considered to ensure a smooth transition. These can be grouped into five main categories:
1. Knowledge Base Enhancement
Every organization has a unique database of information and resources. Often an overlooked asset, organizational knowledge databases are often a very crucial element in the integration of new recruits.
Since condensing learning curves relies heavily on the effective transfer of knowledge and experience, the first step is to identify transferable knowledge needed for a particular role and make that knowledge easily available to new recruits. The task of finding this information often falls to the responsibility and initiative of the new employee, but when the organization takes a proactive and structured approach to this, it leads to a learning process that is clearer, faster and better aligned with the organization.
For example, some of this transferable knowledge that new recruits need to learn relates to stakeholders, both internal and external. New employees need to learn more about clients, vendors, shareholders, and other employees and departments that they will be working with. New recruits also need to learn about the organization’s culture – often an elusive and tricky thing to define and understand. It is important to alert incumbents of possible pitfalls to avoid and to clearly define the meaning of success within the organization.
2. Improving Skill Sets
Job specialization is often proportional to the size of the organization. Larger organizations have very specialized roles, which in turn means that new joiners need to have very job specific skills sets. Because new candidates may lack certain soft and hard skills required for the role, it is important to identify gaps in their existing skills and create training programs to help bridge these gaps.
3. Mentoring & Coaching Programs
Another approach to speeding up the learning curve involves creating specialized and individual development programs for new recruits. Professional development plans that address career goals and aspirations encourage new joiners to grow into their roles. Additionally, fresh graduates and younger professionals often benefit a lot from the assignment of mentors within the organization and the setting of goals to master certain skills within specific time frames.
Another important component of integration is constant and constructive feedback. To effectively shorten their learning curve, new employees need to be given regular feedback on their progress as well as strategies to overcome weaknesses.
5. Using technology tools to streamline the process
While addressing all of the above aspects is crucial to the success of onboarding programs, the tools used to manage and deliver them are equally important. Having created and run various onboarding and training programs in the Arabian Gulf countries, including onboarding as part of Nationalisation objectives, Mentor’s experience has shown that custom-designed software applications can greatly facilitate the assimilation of new staff.
Not only does the use of technology help streamline the process and communication for the parties involved, but it also necessitates better planning of these programs and facilitates the tracking of their progress and success.
For example, applications that facilitate the running of mentoring and coaching programs are no longer a nice-to-have luxury, but a key factor in their success. Training management systems can also enable Learning and Development departments to manage, track and assess training programs to ensure the administration of the right training sessions to new employees. An orientation e-learning program can also be a great interactive way to help ease new joiners into an organization and present content in a more pleasing way that is easier to retain, as compared to sifting through endless and dull orientation manuals.
Comprehensive onboarding plans and tools are necessities for any organization or business. They are often the difference between successful integration and recruitment blunders. It is therefore critical to ensure that all aspects of a job role are addressed and supported throughout the first critical stages of onboarding.
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