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In last week’s post, we highlighted three things that will likely dominate the corporate learning and development conversation in 2018. As we noted, these issues—onboarding, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and L&D vendor selection—share a common factor: they are often overlooked because they aren’t perceived as vital to organizational success.

Today, we take a closer look at onboarding—what it was, what it is today, and what it could be if organizations made it a top priority and began to recognize technology training as essential to successfully orienting a new hire.

Onboarding is the set of programs, activities, and support resources that help integrate a new hire into the organization and decrease time to performance in role. 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—e.g., providing a formal orientation and ample time for new employees to assimilate and achieve full productivity.

Until recently, these approaches were satisfactory. Organizational procedures were mostly cemented in place, business goals rarely veered in new directions, and the tools and technology employees relied on to do their jobs changed very little over the course of a few years.

Now, in the digital cloud era, technology updates roll out more frequently and employees want their workplace tools to be as intuitive and up-to-date as their personal technology. Today, technology is central to work.

In response, organizations have shifted their priorities and have begun thinking about onboarding in terms of how it impacts employee engagement, retention and, ultimately, business success. Indeed, much of the research about onboarding over the past decade has focused on the relationship between onboarding and employee engagement/retention.

But as far as onboarding has come in recent years, it’s not far enough. Even companies that recognize onboarding as an enormous opportunity to increase engagement and retention have largely failed to take it a step further. Infusing onboarding programs with tech training and reinforcement support can further increase engagement and retention, and boost employee productivity and morale.

According to a recent report by the Human Capital Institute (HCI) and Kronos, onboarding is a missed opportunity for a majority of employers. Among the survey 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

The good news is that organizations are beginning to understand how vital 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.

When organizations take onboarding a step further—when they provide not only tools that are intuitive, but also approaches—they will begin to achieve the business gains that digital technology promises.

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