Optimizing Onboarding for Large Organizations

March 3, 2020 | Shannon Shoemaker

Onboarding is the first impression your new hires receive of their day-to-day life within your organization, so it’s critical that onboarding provides a positive experience. But large organizations could be onboarding dozens of employees at a time, which can leave new employees feeling like just a number.

“It’s hard to make someone feel ‘special’ and wanted when you’re trying to onboard a large number of new hires en masse,” says Tim Sackett, president of HRU Technical Resources and author of The Talent Fix. “This is a common dilemma for large organizations.”

Don’t let your new hires feel lost in the crowd. Here’s how to recognize and engage participants during high-volume onboarding.

Implement Preboarding to Expand Training Time

Don’t lose the first-day momentum by sitting new hires at a computer to sign compliance forms. “So much of what we call ‘onboarding’ is really filling out compliance forms,” Sackett points out. He suggests using preboarding, the process of automating compliance forms so employees can do them digitally before their start date. “On their first day, the leader should focus on how we get this new employee acclimated to the role and the team,” he continues.

This is especially helpful for large organizations. You don’t want your new employees’ first experience on the job to be one of frustration. Instead, spend more time showing employees what they want to see: the ins and outs of daily work life.

Highlight On-the-Job Training

When you’re onboarding large numbers of employees, it’s tempting to cram everyone into a classroom for the day. But trying to teach new hires everything they need to know in just a few days in the classroom is a lost cause. Instead, spread onboarding out over a longer period of time so employees can jump into working in their new jobs.

“Break onboarding down into a month-long process so new hires aren’t sitting through the same thing day after day,” suggests Matthew Burr, owner and human resources consultant at Burr Consulting, LLC. “This gives them a break to experience things and ask questions.”

On-the-job training is a great way to help employees clarify any questions they might have. Additionally, it allows employees to explore their new positions in a controlled environment, with onboarding facilitators available to offer guidance.

Integrate New Hires Into Their Teams Quickly

Don’t keep all of your new hires together during the whole onboarding process. Large groups aren’t conducive to individualized learning. “In large groups people are just going to go through the motions, but in small groups they can ask questions,” Burr says. “Partner new hires with their coworkers to answer their questions.”

Make onboarding personal and let new hires meet the people they’ll be working with. By putting employees into their departments under the guidance of a senior coworker, your new hires can start forming friendships and learning workplace culture. Encourage department managers and coworkers to reach out to new employees with personalized notes or over lunch, Sackett suggests.

By handling compliance upfront and dispersing employees into their new roles, you can provide an individualized experience, even if you’re onboarding hundreds of employees at a time. This lays a strong foundation for a lasting relationship.

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