Effective inductions and onboarding play a vital role in improving the efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and engagement of new employees. HR Leader looks at how Telstra goes about onboarding and details some of the associated benefits
As companies are lifting hiring freezes and picking up
steam after the GFC, it is vital that they get new
employees up to speed as quickly as possible.A global survey conducted by the Aberdeen Group
recently found that 67 per cent of companies considered
to have “best-in-class” induction and onboarding programs commence
the process for new full-time employees upon acceptance of the
However, in another survey conducted by Taleo last year, less than
half of organisations are satisfied with the onboarding process at their
company, while more than half said onboarding was an inconsistent
process across their organisation.
Like most companies, Telstra is keen to increase the engagement levels
of its new starters with a view to improving long-term retention levels,
according to Josephine Thompson, manager of resourcing at Telstra.
“We wanted to increase the ownership of customer excellence for all
new starters and to enable them to drive their own onboarding
experience, by telling them what they should expect when they join,”
“We also wanted to streamline and simplify the onboarding basics
for hiring managers, to ensure that the real detractors of a great first
day experience were removed. This might be as simple as ensuring new
starters have a desk, a computer and someone to meet and greet them
on the first day.”
The company’s corporate HR team worked in conjunction with its HR
representatives in the business to review and improve the induction and
onboarding process, with a number of goals in mind.
“We needed to build something that was user friendly and engaging,
as we wanted our new starters to access this prior to commencement,”
“We also wanted something that was intuitive and interesting,
enabling our new starters to find the information they were looking for.”
The process also needed to be easily accessible prior for new hires
prior to their commencement, which meant a web-based solution
accessible outside the company’s firewall. Thompson says the solution
also had to work pre- and post-commencement, so new starters could use
it once they were on board, in a way that broke down the information
into manageable chunks, so new employees could understand what they
needed to know one week, one month or three months into the job.
Fundamentals of the onboarding portal
The result is Telstra’s onboarding portal, http://onboarding.telstra.com,
which has now been active for eight months.
Thompson says it provides an interactive and stimulating learning
environment for new starters prior to their commencement, and
following its first review, it was found that approximately 80 per cent
of all new starters visit the site and spend an average of two to three
minutes on each section. The most popular sections are: “what to
expect”; “day 1 and beyond”; “our customers”; “what we do”; and
“our culture”, Thompson adds.
The site is aligned with Telstra’s employment brand and is able to
provide current, relevant and consistent corporate messaging, she says.
The site employs video, text and interactive elements, and also uses
storytelling to support the learning experience, by way of videos of
“It was also built as a portal for our existing intranet content,
successfully pulling together all the relevant links for a new starter into
one easy-to-digest format. So it also serves as a central reference for hiring
managers as to what our new starters will expect,” Thompson says.
The portal is “hitting the mark against our
original objectives”, says Thompson, who
recently conducted focus groups and surveys
of all new starters over the past eight months.
Candidates reported an increased
understanding of the whole of Telstra – not just
the part they are joining – as well as an
increased understanding of customers and how
employees do impacts on delivering customer
New started also felt an increased sense of
belonging and engagement because they know
a little bit more of what Telstra does and how
the company goes about its business, as well
as an increased uptake of benefits and level of
“New starters have been able to understand
their role faster. This is translating into some
early signs of improved productivity,” says
Thompson, who adds that most of this is
anecdotal feedback at the moment from the
“HR benefit is also clearly an increased
sense of belonging. It is too early to tell if this
translates into retention in the first 12 months,
but the early signs are positive.”
Onboarding advice from Telstra
Define onboarding for your company, as there is a lot of confusion about onboarding and induction and the roles and responsibilities of the different players involved.
Ensure you map the "as is" very carefully and ensure that the business need and objectives are clearly identified, both from a delivery of content perspective and a "basics" perspective.
Define what you want to measure and ensure that you build this into your plan.
Ensure you factor in the ongoing maintenance and updating of information, as this is approximately 40 to 50 per cent of a person's role. When building a content rich site, the ongoing maintenance to ensure it is fresh and relevant can be very time consuming.
Understand and manage your stakeholders well. When you are providing information on all aspects of the company you have a large number of stakeholders all of whom have needs and objectives.
Be prepared for this to take longer than you thought. There are a huge number of stakeholders, not just HR.
Source: Josephine Thompson, manager of resourcing, Telstra
Top tips: building an online induction program
1. Design your induction module in small chunks. Then the new starter can complete the process at times that work for them.
2. Don't think of your induction as a "one off" event. Blend it with face-to-face activities and on-the-job tasks to make it real and engaging.
3. Prioritise induction activities and set up checklists of tasks according to "first steps" and "next steps".
4. Weave in messages about company culture. This is a great opportunity to set a positive first impression and help establish values and expectations.
5. Make the content relevant and meaningful by getting real staff members to tell actual stories.
6. Find a way to introduce new staff to senior executives and stakeholders. Whether it's via video or in person, it can be a great for the new starter way to get a sense of the history and culture.
7. Finally, make sure your new starter feels valued as a new member joining a growing and dynamic organisation.
Source: James Fordham, Savv-e. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org