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For most people, starting a new job stirs up a range of emotions—from excitement and enthusiasm to anxiety and apprehension. The onboarding process is meant to guide employees through the initial stage—to help integrate new hires into the organization and decrease the time it takes them to get up to speed.

Onboarding activities can last anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year. Some organizations favor a “sink or swim” approach, while others prefer more systematic tactics, such as a formal orientation and ample time for new employees to assimilate and achieve full productivity.

Until recently, these approaches were satisfactory. Organizational procedures didn’t change very often and neither did technology. But today, technology updates roll out more frequently and employees want their workplace procedures and tools to be as intuitive and up-to-date as those they use in their personal lives.

Organizations have begun to shift their thinking about onboarding in terms of how it impacts employee engagement, retention and, ultimately, business success. But as far as onboarding has come in recent years, it’s still not far enough nor fast enough.

According to a recent report by the Human Capital Institute (HCI) and Kronos, onboarding remains a missed opportunity for a majority of employers. Among the report’s findings:

  • Three-fourths of survey respondents report that onboarding practices are underutilized
  • Nearly a quarter of organizations have no onboarding strategy or process for internal hires
  • 36% of companies have insufficient technology to automate or organize the onboarding process

For employees, this “missed opportunity” can manifest itself in numerous ways, including lower engagement, higher turnover, and lower productivity.

Even companies that recognize onboarding as an opportunity to increase engagement and retention have largely failed to take it a step further—to recognize that, for employees to be productive and innovative, they need tech training and reinforcement support from day one. Onboarding needs to extend well beyond checklists and compliance, especially for today’s workforce.

The good news is that organizations are beginning to understand how critical onboarding is to success. According to the HCI/Kronos report, 30 percent of companies said they intended to increase their onboarding budget in 2018, and most planned to invest in program consistency and software solutions.

Although change doesn’t happen overnight, there are a few steps employees can take to ensure they’re getting the best onboarding experience:

1. Find out what you can do before your actual start date

By getting paperwork out of the way before day one, you can focus on learning to use the tools and technology you need to be productive.

2. Understand the process

When are you expected to be at full productivity? Which applications and tools will you be expected to learn? What support resources does your company provide?

3. Make suggestions about how the process can be improved

What steps can your organization take to make the onboarding process easier? What changes can be made to decrease the amount of time it takes you to be fully productive?

By taking charge of their own onboarding experience, employees can increase their chances of finding satisfaction and success in their new position. They may even help kick-start organizational changes that will benefit future new hires.

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