Do you know where onboarding begins and ends? Most consider it beginning when the new hire is on-site and going through the typical orientation routine: payroll paperwork, company tour and introductions, supply checklist, etc. Depending on the organization, it can last for a few days or a couple of weeks. In actuality, onboarding is a much longer and more-involved process. It begins with recruitment though hiring and into the new hire’s first year at the company.
Creating an onboarding program is essential for the growth of a company. It can help ease the new employee’s transition into the company and provide a structure for the employee to succeed. Companies that don’t emphasize onboarding as an important tool to socializing and incorporating an employee into their new role may lose talent, along with time and money spent for recruitment and training.
Companies often run into roadblocks when creating an onboarding process because there is a need to hire across different generations and age groups. These age groups value and require different processes throughout an onboarding program. Knowing how to tailor your program can mean the difference between success and failure.
The Baby Boomer generation includes any employee born between 1946 and 1964. Baby Boomers have been in the workforce for a minimum of 3 decades and already know a thing or two about office politics and procedures. They might be more comfortable with a stricter company culture and won’t need to be reminded that they are only allowed an hour for lunch or two 15-minute breaks.
Baby Boomers will be familiar with traditional forms of onboarding and even expect them. Using techniques like social media may make them feel uncomfortable. To gauge how you can effectively train an older employee, ask them questions, like the ones listed below, during the interview process.
- How comfortable are you with Internet tools?
- What is your learning style?
- Do you enjoy working independently?
Generation X includes anyone born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s. Those in this age group are still considered young compared to Baby Boomers. People in Generation X are not new to corporations and will have a predefined view of how the corporate environment operates.
New, but experienced, employees require an onboarding process to ensure their development and success. Onboarding for this group might include mentorships or having access to peers within their reach to answer questions and provide encouragement. Ineffective training and leadership has the potential to drive out these employees. Frequent performance reviews should be provided throughout their first year.
Generation Y (Millennials)
This age group receives a lot of flak for the way they grew up – immersed in pop culture, cell phones, and the Internet. Millennials are used to connection and interaction, offering their opinions and expecting more from their employers than any previous generation. It is important to remember that you might be offering them their first real job. Therefore, rules and expectations must be explicitly set from day one, preferably in writing.
Onboarding for Millennials means being inclusive throughout the whole process with buddy systems, mentoring, or introductions to other millennial new hires. Establish informal meetings or email chains that allow them to express their opinions, suggestions, or concerns.
A good onboarding process can guarantee the growth of a company, while the lack of one, or a badly thought out one, may end up forcing new employees out the door. Companies should start with a basic onboarding process and adapt it based on corporate culture, goals, learning capabilities, and the age group of potential employees.