What Matters Most During Onboarding – Process, Practices, or Duration?

Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Talent Acquisition Technology research shows that onboarding is a hot topic and that both the onboarding process and onboarding technology solutions are top priorities for 2016. However, as I dove deeper into what is happening around onboarding through our just-completed 2016 Onboarding research, I found a deep level of dissatisfaction with the current state of onboarding.  Nearly three-fourths (72%) of the organizations we surveyed are not at all satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their current onboarding process.  hands-people-woman-meeting

What could cause that level of dissatisfaction? My hypotheses going into the research were that many organizations do not have a formal onboarding process and they have not figured out how to assimilate their new hires into their culture and to provide a good new-hire experience.  The duration of the onboarding process is also a subject of contention; should the process be longer or shorter?  My hunch was that it is not the duration of onboarding, but the actual onboarding practices, that matter.

First, my thoughts about the formal onboarding process turned out to be true. Few (24%) from the dissatisfied organizations have a formal onboarding process while 85% of the satisfied group (very satisfied or satisfied) has a formal onboarding process. This makes sense because it is just about impossible to have a consistent, engaging, and effective onboarding process without having standard practices.

Second, in terms of areas for improvement needed for onboarding, a greater percentage of the dissatisfied group than the satisfied group are struggling with the new hire experience, assimilating new hires into their organization, and shortening time-to-proficiency. The top areas of improvement for the satisfied group are improving collaboration (47%) and utilizing technology (42%). My impression here is that by formalizing the onboarding process – as a majority from the satisfied group have done — organizations are better able to address the new-hire experience, assimilation, time-to-proficiency, and technology.

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Third, the dissatisfied organizations spend less time onboarding than the satisfied group, but the difference in average time spent is not dramatic (an average of 27.6 days for dissatisfied vs. 30.3 days for satisfied group).  However, the majority from the dissatisfied group (66%) really feel that their onboarding process should be longer, while only 36% from the satisfied group feel the same way. So the bottom line is that Brandon Hall Group’s survey data shows that the duration of the onboarding process is not always a driver of organizational performance. In fact, high-performance organizations (HiPos) — those with KPIs trending up — have an onboarding process that is, on average, seven days shorter than other organizations (26 days for HiPos vs. 33 days for other organizations).

Based on discussions with organizations, one of the main challenges experienced by those leading the onboarding initiative is to persuade managers and directors that the time spent and focus on onboarding is worthwhile. This is especially true among organizations with rapid growth.  In my opinion, onboarding is critically important to organizational performance. And by concentrating on formalizing the onboarding process and improving the effectiveness of the onboarding practices – rather than obsessing over time spent — organizational performance will improve.

There will be more on this subject in my next blog.  Stay tuned.

Daria Friedman, Principal Analyst, Talent Acquisition, Brandon Hall Group

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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.