Onboarding for new employees is one of those organisational processes which really benefits from a focused digital approach to supplement all the face-to-face interaction. This helps both organisations and employees.
When an employee first joins an organisation there are many people to see, tasks to complete and material to learn all around the same time. This can be time-consuming, frustrating and even confusing. Having a digital presence which lists what you need to do, acts as the gateway to completing relevant transactions (rather than having to send countless emails) and also gives you information to reference helps the employee stay on top of all the activity. It also allows the organisation to ensure the employee has done all the things it requires them to do.
Why use digital for onboarding?
Organisations introduce a digital presence for onboading programmes for various reasons, including:
- Reducing employee turnover at a critical time when news hires might leave by making the programme more efficient and engaging
- Increase the speed with which employees can be self-sufficient and perform all the elements of their role
- Provide a consistent onboarding experience across all parts of an organisation including different countries, locations, divisions and functions
- Encourage organisational culture and values among all employees
- Save time and make processes more efficient, resulting in cost savings
- Ensure that all necessary processes have been carried out, important for risk purposes
- Derive metrics to improve services going forward
What many organisations do
Many organisations have some sort of digital channel or presence for new hires.
Some companies choose to implement dedicated onboarding portals such as SilkRoad’s RedCarpetwhich employees access once they are hired before their first day on the job. These portals tend to be extensively configurable in terms of look and feel, and flexible in deploying tasks, content and forms.
A high degree of configuration is important because onboarding processes tend to be very specific and highly individual from organisation to organisation.
In practice,many organisations also have a “New Hires” section of the intranet. This tends to be a passive area which links to relevant areas and content across the intranet, but may only provide limited integration with other systems and is unlikely to provide reporting capability to ensure new hires have carried out different processes.
Having said this, new hire sections of intranets can be extremely useful when designed correctly. I remember from a past edition of IBF24 (now DW24) a clever approach from British Airways. Recent hires who still felt “new” to the company were asked to design that section of the intranet.
Using the intranet for onboarding
A great example of using an intranet for onboarding is Navigate, a custom-built global onboarding solution introduced by NNE Pharmaplan, a consulting and engineering firm offering services to the biotech and pharmaceutical industry.
Navigate is one of this year’s winners of the Intranet Innovation Awards, a global intranet competition run by Step Two Designs, celebrating innovation and new thinking in the intranet space. Each year I co-ordinate the Awards and write the annual report which features the winning entries.
On Navigate new employees have to complete three missions in the first ninety days of employment, each of which is made up of a number of modules. Each module has a mixture of content, including videos, interactive quizzes and other material. The emphasis of Navigate is very much on learning about the organisation, its ethos and different skills, rather than completing different transactions.
Although new employees access Mission 1 via the corporate website from when they are hired, Missions 2 and 3 are completed via the intranet, where a webpart is visible from the homepage. Integration with the firm’s Learning Management System means e-learning features heavily as part of the solution.
Each Mission is carried out from a “Mission Control” room image, shown in the screenshot at the top of the post. This isn’t meant to be taken too seriously and the whole tone of the content on Navigation is light.
Seven successful features of Navigate
Here are a few of the features about Navigate which stand out for me:
Solution tightly aligned to company strategy
The onboarding solution emerged from clear organisational aims around establishing a one company culture, enabling ambitious growth (reflected in an expansion of headcount) and accelerating the company’s performance.
Navigate is specifically designed to increase employee retention, making the company’s ambitious recruitment targets far more achievable. Internal estimates already suggest a dramatic decrease in the number of new hires needed.
Navigate is also designed to accelerate learning about the company and the associated skills needed for working there for each new employee. The content of each module has been carefully designed to specifically address different areas of knowledge.
Seamless presentation of global and local content
When entering the portal global and local content is presented together seamlessly so it is relevant to employees in different global locations. This not only helps to keep the content relevant, but also allows everybody to receive the same onboarding experience regardless of global location, underpinning the establishment of a one firm culture.
Integration of systems
Navigate’s integration of systems is critical for the solution’s success, so for example it can be accessed externally and HR can carry out reporting. The systems which are utilised include the intranet, the corporate website, the LMS and the HR system.
Accessible from the time you’re hired
In practice the working relationship between a new hire and the new company really starts the day the new position is confirmed. Being able to access “Mission 1” before an employee’s first day helps them prepare for the time they join fully and also helps keep them engaged.
If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I do like a bit of gamification here and there, as long as there is a cultural fit and is appropriate for what it is designed to do. There’s a gentle layer of gamification in the design of Navigate which feels about right and not too heavy-handed. It’s a small tactic to keep up interest. .
The gamification is kept fun and light, reflecting progression through the missions and through individual modules, with a small “reward” to reveal additional information when you complete a mission.
HR reporting and administration
HR have all the necessary reporting and administration features they need, for example to report on individual progress or to skip the whole programme for anomalies added to the HR system.
The employees like it
So far employee satisfaction with the system has been high, with satisfaction scores averaging well above 4 (in a scale out of 5.)
Want more information and screenshots?
If you want more information on NNE Pharmaplan’s Navigate, as well as 16 other detailed case studies of leading-edge intranets then do pick up the Intranet Innovation Awards report for 2014.
At a cost of under £50 (based on the exchange rate at the time of writing) it’s also very good value and a fantastic source of information and inspiration for intranet teams. I know I might be slightly biased, given that I wrote and edited the report, but there is a lot of detail and screenshots there which can provide real value and insight.