How To Accelerate Onboarding for New Hires

How to Accelerate
Onboarding for New Hires

At TiER1, reframing is a part of our fabric. We look at constraints as opportunities to innovate and ask, “How might we…?” But to be honest, the first week that COVID-19 hit my community in New York, it was tough to see opportunities. Practically overnight, state unemployment websites around the nation were crashing due to an overwhelming influx of the newly unemployed. In that moment, I thought, “Who is even thinking about onboarding?” But, as has become common these days, within hours, something changed. Essential work was defined and industries critical to our supply chain and health systems were in demand. These industries needed additional workers who were competent and capable as quickly as they could find them.

For many organizations, the concept of onboarding was reframed. The luxury of extended onboarding was replaced by an immediate need for accelerated onboarding. New hires need to be equipped to leverage their transferable skills within hours, not days. Industry-skilled new hires need to get plugged into complex work at healthcare and IT organizations within days, not weeks. Many existing employees need to engage in accelerated “internal” onboarding activities – quickly join new work teams, adapt to new ways of working, or even make decisions about which balls they can carry and which ones must be dropped. And in the near future, organizations that furloughed employees during the health crisis will need a way to quickly bring them back into the organization when things stabilize.

All of this must be done in a way that does not stress a system, supply chain, and culture that is already incredibly stressed with onboarding. And therein lies, “How might we accelerate onboarding to increase capacity in the system, realize new possibility within the system, and reduce friction in the system?”

While there are many factors to consider, here are five strategies to get started with accelerated onboarding:

1. Prioritize Urgent HR Tasks: Clearly divide the “have to do it right now” vs. “have to do this eventually” HR-related activities. Consider what can be done before a new hire begins.

2. Identify Critical Activities: Consider the immediate activities the new hire will engage in that are required for business continuity. Then, reframe the onboarding content to focus on those activities instead of overall job function. Identify who has the specific skills and experience to support training on those activities and get them involved.

3. Optimize Skillsets and Experience: Avoid a steep learning curve altogether by leveraging the skillsets employees are showing up with. Rather than asking a new hire to complete an inordinate amount of “new” processes, break down the processes into smaller chunks. Reframe the conversation from “Let me teach you this…” to “Let me show you the nuances of how we do this here.”

4. Keep It Simple: We have an incredibly stressed workforce right now. New hires are showing up Day 1 carrying much larger burdens than ever before (these might include concerns about their health, their families, their job security, and more). Current team members are likely feeling overworked and overwhelmed. It’s science – when we are under stress, our brains are just not at peak function. Reduce cognitive load through crisp communication, rough-and-ready visual job aides made with screenshots, short videos recorded via a mobile phone, and other simple supports to get the job done. Likely everyone, including managers and existing team members, are already over capacity. By keeping it simple, we’re supporting the new employee, but we’re also alleviating the load on those tasked with providing support.

5. Support Rapid Decision-Making: No one wants to end up on the wrong side of the news feed and right now, but we might not have the luxury of teaching exceptions. How can you ensure your on-ramp employees deliver on the promises you’ve held to be true? It’s in your culture (and dynamically distributed authority). Don’t make it complicated. Give your new employees ONE guiding principle to operate under that no matter what the situation, if they make a decision based on that one principle, they are best representing what your organization stands for. A great example of this is Kroger’s purpose statement, “Feed the human spirit.” This means empowering all employees to make decisions that are grounded in taking care of customers’ whole health as well as each other’s. And when presented with an exception to the rule? If the decision is based on “Feed the human spirit,” employees can’t go wrong.

At TiER1, we believe that the potential of any organization lies within its people. And whether those people have joined your organization years ago or hours ago, the potential of each individual contribution is amplified, particularly now more than ever. Accelerate onboarding to provide the support employees need to contribute faster and ease the stress on your organization.

Are you faced with a need to accelerate onboarding? Let’s talk it through. Complete the form below or give us a call at 859-415-1000 and we’ll connect you with a TiER1er who can help tease apart how to ease the stress on your organization and still meet the needs of today’s environment.

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