Getting new employees “off on the right foot” is critical to organizational success.

Some 47% of staff turnover occurs in the first 90 days on the job, according to research by the Wynhurst Group, and new hires decide in thire first three weeks whether or not they feel at home in their new organization.

With the cost of losing an employee estimated to be three times their annual salary, employee retention is a critical concern. New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 69% more likely to be with the company in three years than those who did not.

But onboarding – so critical to successfully engaging and retaining new hires – is not something that can be successfully delivered in a single classroom session on the morning of their first day of work.

A key distinction in structuring a successful onboarding process is the difference between orientation and onboarding.

Orientation is an event. Onboarding is a process.

There are a few key differentiators that help illustrate this difference:

  1. Structure:  Orientation is typically done in a single event; onboarding programs often span several weeks or more.
  2. Delivery: Orientation is delivered classroom style learning or a learning portal. Since onboarding programs last much longer, they often need to be delivered to employees already performing their day-to-day job and perhaps located remotely and already in the field. This calls for a delivery platform that can be scale to reach remote employees and fit orientation into already busy schedules.
  3. Content: Orientation focuses on need-to-know facts, policies and procedures delivered through one-way, passive learning of standardized content. Successful onboarding utilizes content that is customized to the individual’s needs and role. Learning is active and two-way; involving practice, coaching and feedback.
  4. Expected Results:  After orientation, the employee is still considered “new” but has a basic understanding of company policies and procedures and all required paperwork has been completed and submitted. After an extended onboarding process, the employee is considered fully integrated into the organization and has formed strong connections within the company.

So successful onboarding programs face several logistical challenges that call for new ways to deliver content and engage learners:

  • They need to be conducted over extended periods of time.
  • They need to fit into the day-to-day demands and schedules of employees (and often their managers) who are already “on the job”.
  • Many of these employees may already be in the field. Bringing them together for ongoing onboarding events would be disruptive and potentially very expensive. So the program needs to be scalable and deliverable remote employees.
  • Content needs to be consistent, but also highly customizable to the individual. For example, an organization often has core values that are fixed and expressed using consistent language approved by upper management. But helping individuals understand those values, express them in their own words, and align them to their own beliefs may require a customized approach in facilitation or coaching.
  • Metrics need to be established and tracked. Because onboarding is an extended process, it is important to ensure that all participants remain engaged in the process and are making progress.

Fortunately, new technologies are emerging that make this type of effective onboarding possible – and affordable in terms of both time and money.

Mobile learning platforms such as SkillFitness allow you to use a mobile-based, online, social learning approach to structure and deliver onboarding programs. This approach combines several technologies including mobile, video, social and gamification to engage employees, provide coaching, and track their progress. 

The technological approach may be especially appealing to Millennials. Millennials love of technology is well known.  While their older Generation X colleagues are viewed as tech savvy, Millennials are sometimes viewed as tech addicted. They’ve never known, and can’t imagine, a world without internet connectivity; social media; and instant, anytime, anywhere access to information and their colleagues and connections.

This onboarding approach also has several advantages beyond just providing information in meeting Millennial learning styles and expectations:

  • It gives Millennial learners control over their own learning. Millennials grew up in a world of instant access, anytime, anywhere access to learning and to learning at their pace.  The mobile learning approach meets these expectations and helps fit onboarding into already busy schedules.
  • It provides a clear path to success during the critical first few months on the job.  Millennials recognize that they need help adapting to their new position, their new organization, and to the workplace in general. When surveyed by Bentley University, recent Millennial college graduates gave themselves a grade of “C minus“ in terms of being prepared for work.  Millennials have had more guidance in their lives than any other generation. Throughout their lives, they’ve had parents, teachers and coaches explaining step-by-step what is expected of them.  Providing a clear path to a successful start in their new position helps reduce the anxiety they already feel and gives them a realistic picture of what needs to be learned and how to get there.
  • It supports Millennials need for social connections and mentorship. Millennials daily lives revolve around their social networks. It’s how they live, work and learn.  It’s also how they get feedback from formal or informal mentors – teachers, gurus, friends, colleagues, and coaches – to address personal or professional issues.  Tapping into this strong desire for online connection will make your onboarding program more engaging, relevant and effective.

Want to learn more about how to make your onboarding program more effective and engaging for your Millennial employees?  Check out our e-book, “Onboarding Millennials – The 3 ‘Must Have’ Strategies for Recruiting, Training and Retaining Great Millennial New Hires”. Click here to download your free copy.



The 3 "Must Have" Strategies for Recruiting, Training and Retaining Great Millennial New Hires

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