Next level content adds sizzle to onboarding

If your onboarding package fits into the “same old, same old” category and is limited to information about company benefits and technology, it’s time for a strategic makeover.

We are in a workforce revolution accelerated by the pandemic. Today, to attract prime talent, organizations must change their mindset and preconceived notions of what onboarding used to be. What was done in the past is no longer relevant. As with talent recruitment and hiring, onboarding should be more bespoke and personalized.

Today’s employees value training opportunities more than ever. The modern professional knows the recipe for a successful career is in ongoing learning, which may include reboarding, reskilling and upskilling; yet companies often fail to provide employees with the proper tools to accomplish it. Or, if they have tools available, they’re outdated, not thought-provoking nor interesting enough to captivate ambitious millennials who make up 35 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Consider the following research findings

  • 87 percent of millennials believe learning and development in the workplace is important.
  • 59 percent of millennials claim development opportunities are extremely important when deciding whether to apply for a position.
  • 76 percent of employees say a company would be more appealing if it offered additional skills training to its staff.

A fresh approach

In today’s highly competitive hiring environment, think of your employees as customers and provide them with the latest, most innovative tools and resources to be successful and fulfilled in their roles. The initial orientation, their first official engagement, should be indicative of what life is going to be like at your organization, so enhancing that primary experience and making it unforgettable can have lasting effects. 

One of the best ways to do this is with “next level content” – exciting, educational material in alignment with the individual employee’s needs. It’s a 360-degree turn from the traditional onboarding content of the past that was a generic “one size fits all” one-way presentation. Doing onboarding right will position your company as a leader in your field in a way that will get people talking about their experience.

Think of next level onboarding content as a relationship initiator. When new hires receive next level content as part of their onboarding, it will make them feel special and affirm their choice to join your organization. 

21st century skill development

Today’s employees crave information that will set them up for future success. Next level content that educates employees and helps them attain new skills to facilitate growth within the organization are valued and deeply engaged from day one. Specific topics may include:

  • Building trusting relationships in and outside of the organization.
  • Effective communication specific to the company culture.
  • DISC Assessment: a widely used behavioral assessment tool to improve teamwork, enhance communication and culture, aid in hiring and positively impact employee retention.
  • Emotional intelligence: a skill that will help foster peer relationships, develop self-awareness, manage emotions and stay motivated.
  • Critical thinking and decision-making: skills that help connect ideas, evaluate disagreements and solve multi-layered issues.

Remove the guesswork

To be most impactful, a reimagined onboarding program should include content that is specific to the individual’s own development path. Having this opportunity removes anxiety and guesswork that many face when joining a new organization. Show them how to be successful so they don’t have to figure it out on their own. Consider these topics: 

  • Company culture in communication, decision making and behaviors.
  • Insider info that sets up expectations.
  • Explanation and transparency regarding how company decisions are made.
  • Ways they can be proactive in their career growth.
  • How they can contribute from day one.

Change the learning modality

Vary the learning modality and make onboarding a multimedia experience. Consider using videos and e-learning. Some employees will thrive with independent work that connects them to the greater mission of the organization. Independent work can include giving them a list of people throughout the organization they should casually introduce themselves to, or a SharePoint scavenger hunt.  Don’t forget to include fun elements in the content you develop to surprise and delight your new hires. Resist the urge to keep the programming buttoned-up so new employees can laugh and enjoy themselves. Take some pressure off their first few weeks by incorporating fun activities. Invite tenured employees to join in on the fun and drive connections across the organization.