By: KAZIM LADIMEJI
Although still in use, the sink or swim approach to new hire management is rapidly going out of fashion as organizations find themselves time and time again having to pick through the ruins of a mismanaged good hire. With 22 percent of staff turnover allegedly occurring in the first 46 days of employment, according to the Wynhurst group, most organizations are now open to implementing some level of on-boarding to smooth the transition and integration of the new hire. As you probably know, on-boarding is a formalized education of new starters about the culture, values, working processes, key personalities, go-to people, and collaboration processes of the new business.
But, the problem with on-boarding is that it can be a massive download of information in a short space of time making it an overwhelming experience. This can make it harder for new hires to act on the information provided to them, because they simply haven’t had time to process and reflect on it. The on-boarding process itself becomes a bit of a hard landing.
So, what if the on-boarding period started before the new hire joined the business? This means that the new hire information transfer would occur over a longer period of time, allowing the new hire time to actually read the employee handbook in the peace of his/her own home– and, importantly, give the person time to reflect and devise a strategy so he/she is better prepared for the first day and first weeks and potentially more likely to on-board and get up to speed faster. I mean, if you are relocating to another country you don’t start your cultural integration on arrival; you have started it weeks or months before arriving by reading local country guides, learning languages, etc.
There is no doubt that starting on-boarding before an employee joins makes sense, and thankfully it’s an emerging concept and practice in HR and is termed pre-boarding. Sold? So, how can you make pre-boarding work for you and what kind of information should you be supplying to the staff.
Of course you can start by sending out all the administrative paperwork, such as personal data, payroll, etc.(or give them self-service access to your HR system), so it can automatically be entered. This can save them time on the first day and create more time and opportunity for them to integrate and socialize, accelerating on-boarding.
But, form filling is hardly innovative, so you might want to think about developing a more readable employee handbook in the style of Zingerman’s , written with wit, style, humor, panache and even including illustrations to reflect the tone, culture and style of your organization. This will enable employees to start to get a strong grasp of the cultural/behavioral expectations in the organization, enabling them to prepare their own personal strategy to navigate this. They will have time to process and reflect on this before joining, meaning they are much better prepared.
If you have a company social network with forums, wikis and blogs, corporate videos, organization charts and staff profiles where they can view old discussions, they can once again get a good grasp of culture and personality and better prepare themselves.
I think it’s worth while getting new hires to connect on LinkedIn and sign them up to your LinkedIn company page and have team members connect with them and vice versa, once again starting the socialization process early. You might want to encourage colleagues or team members to send them welcome emails, telling new hires a little bit about themselves to help break the ice.
So, just to be clear, pre-boarding is not a replacement for on-boarding; it’s just an extension of on-boarding over a longer period, starting during the pre-hire period to enable a much more effective transfer of information to the new hire that should be lead to faster and better on-boarding.
About the Author
Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.
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