Making the Most Of Your Onboarding Program

Making the Most Of Your Onboarding Program

As we’ve talked about in some previous posts, we don’t just talk about the latest and greatest talent management practices here at Halogen. We live them. Why do we do this? So we can tell what’s working and what isn’t. It’s one thing to read the latest report and just start doing things – it’s a different thing to study, implement, and measure success. We call it Halogen @ Halogen.

Joanne Wells

One thing we often think about is the onboarding process for our new hires. I’m not just talking about the first two or three days where you get your laptop, email address, and meet people around the office. I’m talking about getting new employees truly settled into their role and where they fit within the organization. To learn more about making the most of an onboarding program, I spoke to Joanne Wells. She manages Halogen’s Learning Center of Excellence. What’s that? Keep reading!

First of all, can you explain the role of Halogen’s Center of Excellence?

The Halogen Learning Center of Excellence is a team of people that manages our company’s learning and development efforts, but we’re much more than a content library. We guide employees through their journey at Halogen, from onboarding to coaching to career development. We align Halogen learning initiatives to our organizational goals, create dialogues across the organization to close skill gaps, and run programs to help employees develop their skills.

I think most of us are used to receiving some sort of orientation when we join a company. How is onboarding different from orientation?

To explain this, I like to think about where the two words come from. Orientation is all about getting your bearings. Here at Halogen, orientation is a day-and-a-half long affair where we help new hires get to know what our company is all about, meet with their new team, understand where they can get some quick wins and get through a lot of corporate level compliance stuff. Most importantly, we get them started off on the right foot when it comes to how we manage talent and what's in it for them.

Onboarding, on the other hand, is about bring people fully “on board.” There’s still some of the compliance and corporate work involved, but it’s really all about a deeper understanding of the organization. For instance, someone being onboarded for a sales role might need to learn about the industry they’re operating in, what the company’s sales cycle looks like, the inner-workings of the product, where the company generates its leads, and how the post-sales implementation and support processes work.

It sounds like a fairly significant investment on the part of an organization to run an onboarding program. Are there tangible business outcomes or ROI that can be tied back to onboarding?

There are absolutely tangible business outcomes or ROI that can be tied back to onboarding, but I think it’s important to think of it in a particular way.

When we’re onboarding new hires, there are certain business outcomes we want to achieve. So we like to reverse engineer the onboarding practices based on what outcomes we want to achieve. If the business wants to receive fewer incoming support calls, we ask ourselves what we can do in the onboarding process to support that.

If the outcomes are achieved and the result has to do with what we’ve put in place, we can count ourselves successful and calculate the ROI. As we make more and more of these changes, we can even calculate the dollar-in, dollar-out ROI of our onboarding process as a whole. We are just starting to work this into our best practices.

What’s great about this model is that it’s applicable to all learning & development efforts, not just onboarding.

How does the onboarding program connect with other talent management programs at Halogen (or participate in)?

We actually like to use our onboarding program to set up a baseline understanding of progressive talent management practices. Many of our new people come from organizations that handle talent management very differently, so the change can be jarring. We set up a learning path for every new employee that takes them through two half-day courses on performance management, plus we have them watch a brief course taught by Josh Bersin. This level-set really goes a long way towards getting buy-in and higher participation in our talent management activities.

What would you suggest for the HR team that is very lean and might not have the resources to develop an onboarding program?

Set expectations. If your organization is serious about getting talent management right, it’s important to set an expectation with your new employees regarding how they should participate. More importantly, they should know what they stand to gain by taking part in your company’s talent management strategy – better personal development, increased visibility into other parts of the business, and maybe even a way to push their career forward.

Once a program is developed, what kind of resources are required in maintaining the program?

Once you have a program mapped out, it really does not take a ton of resources to maintain, so long as you set things up right when developing your program. Make sure that everything is set up in such a way that it’s easily configurable. Simplicity is key here. The fewer moving parts there are, the easier time you’ll have in adapting your program to new processes and goals.

Simplicity will also help in reporting on your success. You’re better off reporting on three to five crucially important things than 25 less important things. With reporting data, it’s “garbage in, garbage out,” which means the less precise the data you collect, the less precise your conclusions from that data will be.

Learn more about onboarding and talent management

Want to learn more about how onboarding connects with talent management? Register for Joanne’s webinar, which takes place Thursday, March 23rd at 2:00 p.m. EST. She’ll be joined by Meera Narayanan, HR Generalist with our talent acquisition partners at Jobvite, who wrote a great piece on onboarding for the TalentSpace Blog last week!

Helpful Resources

NEW ebook: How to shift from traditional to ongoing performance management

NEW ebook: How to shift from traditional to ongoing performance management


How to select a talent management system: Secrets from the experts

How to select a talent management system: Secrets from the experts


ebook: Discover 5 ways to transform the annual performance review

ebook: Discover 5 ways to transform the annual performance review

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