My word processor underlines the word “onboarding” with those red squiggly lines. That’s because it’s not really a word — it’s a neologism, referring to the practice of welcoming new employees “onboard” their new workplace. You might have also heard it as “Employee Orientation“, which is quite more descriptive. But I digress. Whichever term you use for it, onboarding is quite simple in its essence: it’ all about helping new hires integrate smoothly within your company, and have them be productive in their new role as soon as possible.
That said, employee onboarding is not meant to replace the traditional meet-and-greet and tour of the premises — it’s still better, and far more warm, to have somebody walk these new employees around in person.
What it can replace, though, is all those introductory speeches and basic training about a new hire’s responsibilities, the ad hoc answering of questions about the structure and operations of the company, and the traditional lectures on professional ethics, company guidelines, etc.
eFront for employee onboarding
While many companies see employee onboarding as a simple offloading of information to the new hires, a better approach is to see it as a specialized case of employee training or as the beginning of your employee training process.
Such an approach, combined with a powerful LMS, like eFront, will give you the best results while minimizing the expenses and logistics of the whole operation (which, for large enterprises with thousands of new hires every season, can be substantial).
Employee onboarding is mostly repetitive and same-ish, not just for the same type of jobs (which obviously, get the same orientation material), but also across the board, since whatever their role and unique responsibilities might be, most new hires will also need to be given the same basic information.
With eFront, you can not only automate the whole process, but also provide measurable insight on its progress, simply by leveraging its powerful reporting capabilities.
What goes in an onboarding program
Obviously, any onboarding program will have some courses explaining the new hire’s job function — which, in case the latter involves a complex set of new responsibilities, could also require additional, full blown training.
There are, however, certain kinds of information that belong in any kind of onboarding program. An organizational chart, for starters, showing the structure of your organization and the various required job functions, will be immensely helpful in giving new hires a sense of how they fit in the company.
Plus, if you also fill in that org-chart with employee email addresses, phone numbers and office locations, it will give new hires most of the information they need, in order to contact and cooperate with colleagues in their and other departments.
With eFront not only you can make this information available online and 24/7, and easily update it when the need arises, but you can also connect each node of your organizational chart with further documentation (e.g. pertaining to how that specific department, position, etc operates), thereby documenting your whole company’s operation.
Another important content that should be in your onboarding course is your company’s internal and industry-wide rules and regulations — things that, in large enterprises, can extend to many thousands of printed pages, and include industry, regional and global compliance rules.
You can leverage eFront’s easy content re-use and authoring capabilities to make simplified versions of all of these available to new hires, while also giving them the option to consult their full versions whenever they need to. And, of course, you can re-use the same material for your compliance training courses (as we saw in the first post of this series).
Speaking of compliance training, there are also things that, whether legally bound or not, you cannot really afford not to inform your employees about. These include laws and guidelines against racial and sexual discrimination, both great fits for an orientation program.
Last, but not least, don’t forget all the sensitive stuff that employees are often afraid to ask about (in fear of sounding lazy, unmotivated, too competitive, greedy, etc). We’re talking about things like career advancement paths, days off, holidays, overtime pay, benefits, and bonuses.
Having that information easily available from your online orientation program will really make your employees’ lives easier (and, provided that those career opportunities and productivity bonuses are good enough, to begin with, will help you in retaining your talent).
Writing your content
Stuff that’s unique to your company’s operations, you’ll, of course, need to write yourself (or hire somebody for this task).
That said, eFront does make it easy, with its powerful content editing and advanced importing engine, which can turn anything from Word documents to videos, into fully web-compatible course content. Plus, if you want to take it up a notch, eFront now comes with built-in support for rich HTML5 content creation that builds on the powerful H5P framework.
As for onboarding information that’s shared across companies and/or industries (e.g. common compliance training material), there are plenty of professionally crafted courses by third-party content creators, ready for you to buy through content marketplaces such as OpenSesame (which eFront offers native integration for) and incorporate into your onboarding courses.
Compared to a CMS and other solutions
Having your onboarding material in your Learning and Talent Development Platform serving as part of your employee training and development plan — as opposed to mere static content to make available somewhere online — gives you a lot of power and flexibility.
For one, it allows you to ensure that your employees have absorbed their orientation content: just have them go through online exams based on the things they need to know. This is something that’s dead easy to achieve in eFront, but impossible to get working on a traditional CMS, employee portal system, or something like Confluence.
You can also use those early stage exams as a kind of aptitude tests, to determine where you’re going to place new hires, and what kinds of responsibilities might be best for them. It’s not just testing either — eFront offers several additional tools to help simplify and automate employee skills management, from skills-gap detection to certificate management.
There’s also the fact that a CMS, being first and foremost a static document repository, will never offer you the rich eLearning performance, activity analysis and reporting that you can get from eFront. With simple-to-create and intuitive-to-read reports, you’ll be able to understand your employees better than it would be possible with a CMS or a conventional onboarding program.
eFront also has a native integration for social workspace tools, like IBM’s industry leading Connect platform. This lets you integrate new hires within the social context of your organization from the very start of the onboarding progress, connecting them with the leaders and experts in your organization, and having the latter share their experience with them.
Oh, and if you’re looking intro covering the complex onboarding needs of the extended enterprise, look no further. eFront, through its powerful “Branches” feature, lets you deploy employee orientation material and training courses to any number of privately branded portals, each extremely customizable and corresponding to a unit (department, facility, partner etc.) of your business network.
Employee Onboarding with eFront in a nutshell
Onboarding helps make employees productive quickly, and implementing it through a platform like eFront allows you to take it beyond simple information dumping, by making it part of your overall online corporate training strategy.