Onboarding is an essential part of the workplace initiation process for new hires. It lays the groundwork for a fruitful relationship between the new team member and the organization as a whole. It also gives the employer an opportunity to set the tone for the workplace they want to have: the culture, the management-employee relationship, and the value of the employee to the whole team. As few as ten years ago, onboarding was mostly considered to be first day training, and more comprehensive programs have still not become the norm in small to mid-sized businesses. Here, we will look at how to use a Person-Centered Paradigm as a model to improve your onboarding. Check out the sub-articles at right for more on Onboarding basics, and the Person-Centered Paradigm.
In a broad 2018 survey, BambooHR studied the impact of effective onboarding on general workplace behavior. The results spoke to the high value that should be placed on personalized, intentional onboarding practices – clearly aligned with the aims of a Person-Centered Paradigm. Employees who self-identified effective onboarding were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to the organization and 30 times more likely to have high job satisfaction. The same study indicated a correlation between effective onboarding and a positive organizational culture. In organizations with successful onboarding, 33% more employees felt engaged in their workplace and 69% rated their employer as a strong performer when compared to weak onboarding processes.
Though onboarding is likely not the first time a manager has interacted with their new employee, it is perhaps the most impactful early checkpoint to set the tone for your workplace relations:
- It improves productivity. Being intentional and individualized in your approach to explaining expectations and understanding needs allows for quicker, more effective integration.
- It improves employee satisfaction. Taking a personalized, attribute focused attitude to initial orientation shows the employee that their needs and success are valued in the organization.
- It saves employers time and money. By initiating employment in a manner that takes into account individual workplace needs, employers can preemptively take steps to meet them quickly. This takes away negotiation after the fact, and provides tools for employees to be as effective as possible from the outset.
Tips for effective Person-Centered Onboarding
Applying a person-centered paradigm to onboarding means prioritizing asking questions, rather than making assumptions, about the creation of an optimal workplace for individual success. Some tools for doing this include:
- Have a solid framework. Developing an onboarding checklist, guide or other similar resource ensures that everyone involved in the process is informed about best practices and puts the same attention on a personalized experience. In a study by Brandon Hall group, having an organized, intentional onboarding process resulted in a 32% increase in new hire engagement.
- Ensure space for individual connection. This could look any number of ways, including a small meeting to discuss the employee’s goals, expectations and reservations about their new employment, or any other type of early one-on-one interaction. Often, new team members are more likely to disclose helpful information in a more informal, private setting.
- Take initiative to ask the questions. While some people can advocate well for their own needs and practices, most people aren’t independently forthcoming within the context of employee orientation. In order to get the information needed to foster most effective working environment, the employer must ask the questions themselves. Examples of important questions to integrate into onboarding include things like ‘what kind of manager-employee relationship helps you do your best?’ or ‘what physical workspace is conducive to your success?’.
- Be prepared to make reasonable accommodations. If you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk too. There is no point in asking about a structure that helps the new hire succeed if you aren’t willing to make adjustments to support them. While some accommodations may not be attainable, be clear and honest about what you’re able to do, and stick to your word in making an effort to achieve a positive workspace.
While individualizing onboarding can be an adjustment for employers, the financial and cultural benefits hold significant weight in overall organizational success. Using a person-centered approach to new employee integration shows your team members you care about them and their success. It also gives them more incentive to care about yours.