Inductions and onboarding programs are essential in bringing new employees on board and improving their efficiency, effectiveness and productivity in a short amount of time. HR Leader speaks with experts about how technology is streamlining and transforming this process
Induction programs and onboarding play an important
role in reducing the amount of time it takes for new
employees to get up to speed and start contributing to
an organisation. However, there is significant room for
improvement in this area for most organisations.
A recent report conducted by Taleo found that less than
half of organisations are satisfied with the onboarding
process at their company, while more than half said onboard
ing was an inconsistent process across their organisation.
Furthermore, the report, Onboarding: Speeding the Way to
Productivity, found that more than one-third of companies
don’t have a formal process to measure and co-ordinate
completion of onboarding activities.
Organisations continue to struggle with effective and
efficient induction and onboarding processes, and are cry
ing out for ways to fix the problem, according to Tim
Legge, director of sales for Learning Seat, a division of
News Limited which provides customised online courses,
training tools and e-learning resources.
“On day one employees are thrown onto the floor with
little or no understanding of the company or their role within
it. Most companies have programs in place but these are typ
ically held every three months and consist of sitting in a room
for a day while a sequence of senior managers are paraded
through to present their patch,” he says.
“While these types of sessions are much better than noth
ing, it’s a long, tiring, often boring, day for which they may
have waited three or four months.”
There are a number of ways technology can streamline and
automate the induction and onboarding process to ensure
consistency and time savings.
The day an employee starts in a new job is typically the
time they are most enthusiastic about their new company
and their responsibilities, says Legge. “In fact, a lot of research
will tell you that employees make the decision as to whether
this is a company they want to be a part of in the first week.
This makes the first week a hugely important milestone. As
an employer, if you let this pass without properly onboard
ing your new employee, you miss an opportunity to make this
connection,” he says.
E-learning programs can teach new employees about the
history and culture of an organisation, its structure, scope,
products and services, policies and procedures, he says, in
addition to incorporating messages from the CEO and other
leaders in the business. “Importantly, online inductions allow
the new employee to digest this information at their own
pace,” Legge says.
Jenny Barltrop, director of Savv-e, a firm which spe
cialises in custom e-learning content development and
intranet design, says many clients are preparing for the
increase in new employee numbers in 2010 with the
development of onboarding and induction modules now.
There has been a trend towards inductions which can
cater for diverse audiences, and a combination of online
and face-to-face delivery mediums.
“There continues to be strong demand for the use of a
variety of media in online modules – such as audio, video
and sophisticated photography – in technology-based
onboarding,” she says.
“In addition, Savv-e has noticed an increased demand
for pre-employment online inductions, delivering messages
around brand, culture and expectations. This can be
achieved through online modules, especially ones that can
be accessed via the internet prior to an employee com
mencing at the organisation, but still tracked and man
aged at the client end through suitable online
learner and content management systems.”
Barltrop also notes a continuing preference for
onboarding/induction modules online, which
enable new starters to progress through the
onboarding process in a structured manner over
a period of the first day, first week and first month.
“All sectors – whether financial, industrial, com
mercial or government – are requesting online
learning which enables their people to engage with
the onboarding process through active involve
ment in tasks and activities they complete at their
own pace,” she says.
The direct costs of face-to-face induction pro
grams are substantial and easy to calculate,
Legge says, who also notes that where a busi
ness is geographically dispersed these costs
escalate exponentially. “Once an online induc
tion program has been developed, the cost per
employee can be as low as $10,” he says.
It’s the hidden cost of poor induction and
onboarding that has arguably the biggest impact
on ROI, according to Legge, who says there has
been some compelling new research linking
employee engagement and the level of discre
tionary effort. “An effective online induction
process can have a major positive impact on
employee engagement. Obviously discretionary
effort is a really difficult thing to measure, but it
has to be included in any ROI discussion,” he says.
Barltrop also says that organisations that have
implemented self-managed online modules have
reported a significant decrease in calls to their
helpdesks and a reduction in ongoing support
time required of managers. “No longer does a
trainer need to facilitate the same content over
and over again; they are free for other activities,”
There are also significant benefits in consis
tency of message, according to Barltrop, and many
organisations are making significant efforts to
fine-tune their branding, cultural messages,
approach to customers and so on. “Online mod
ules can accurately reflect this branding and mes
sages, and minimise the differences and
convolution of the message that may be conveyed
by different facilitators in different locations and
at different times,” she says.
Both custom-developed inductions and in-
house-developed inductions continue to provide
cost benefits to organisations, according to Barl
trop. While requiring an initial upfront outlay,
both in terms of dollars and time commitment,
she says that even a custom-built induction solu
tion provides a significant overall reduction in the
cost of induction per employee when compared
with the ongoing time and cost requirements for