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Online onboarding

February 15

The work we do in the digital space enables organizations to engage with candidates far more deeply before hire than they could have in the past. Even a candidate applying for a fairly junior role in a low-touch recruitment process can, amongst other things, have the opportunity to see their workplace before they join, get a view of what their new colleagues think of the organization and have their key questions answered.

It's fair to say that one of the key benefits of the shift to digital has been the lengthening of time that a candidate is exposed to our clients' employer brands. If a candidate registers for a talent bank and receives regular updates before applying, then that exposure to the brand becomes all the greater. All good news for the recruiting organization because it should mean they are hiring people who have a greater sense of their own cultural alignment with the organization's values.

The flip-side of this, however, is that increased brand exposure will increase the expectation of the brand being delivered post hire. And it's at this point that even the most pro-active of resourcing and HR teams start to lose control of the process. Much of the onboarding experience is in the domain of line managers and some of them will, naturally, be better at it than others.

Meanwhile, a candidate's clarity around job importance, organizational vision, the division candidates are joining, their objectives and responsibilities all have a greater than 20% effect on discretionary effort — too important to be left to chance and the effectiveness of individual managers. Fortunately, although mandating significant behavioral change to deliver an organization-wide onboarding process of similar quality is going to be at best very difficult, there is a digital solution!

A basic online onboarding environment can ensure that a new colleague has access to all relevant HR documentation: start date and joining instructions, a clear overview of the organization and their individual department. They also understand what is expected of them in terms of behaviors and dress codes etc. and arrives feeling confident. The first online onboarding environments I was involved with were essentially information portals but were very positively received by candidates at both junior level, who felt positive going to work on the first day, knowing where to go and what to wear; and at a more senior level, where people appreciated, for example, the opportunity to look up company jargon on the onboarding site in their early days and consequently could keep up in meetings.

It's possible to do so much more; however, than just provide information to new colleagues. We are all used to social networking, wiki technologies and user- generated content, and we are now seeing these Web 2.0 features in onboarding environments to allow new joiners to build networks before they join, share information and use online "to-do" lists in customizable environments.

When we are increasingly moving to low-touch recruitment methodologies for all but the most senior hires, online onboarding systems offer the chance to deliver a more personal experience, tailored to individual department level. They give new joiners the chance to interact with their managers but also other new colleagues, ensuring they arrive for their first day better informed, more confident and more engaged than they would otherwise be — delivering a far better brand experience and reducing the likelihood of early attrition.

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