The roles and responsibilities of the talent function revolve around attracting, selecting, and retaining the best talent. As learning professionals, we can assist in retaining top talent by developing a robust onboarding program. A standard framework for onboarding includes:

  • new employee orientation
  • structured meet and greets
  • check-ins with the manager
  • self-directed learning time
  • scheduled on-the-job training.

A successful onboarding program will also provide key learning experiences around three important pillars—the organization’s culture, its business, and the new employee’s specific role.

The following are a few ideas and tips to help structure your onboarding program.

Learn the culture

  • Invite executive leaders to speaker with new hires about the company’s vision and values.
  • Bring in recent new hires to share their experiences and discuss their first few days on the job.
  • Discuss the norms of behavior and provide examples on how employees work together cross-functionally.

Learn the business

  • Invite functional leaders from your operations, sales, and marketing teams to discuss the company’s products and services, as well as their team’s organizational structure.
  • Provide frontline learning experiences. For example:
    • Consumer packaged goods companies can provide the new employee with an opportunity to work at a manufacturing plant.
    • Quick service restaurants can have the new employee work at a restaurant; taking orders, preparing meals, and serving customers.
    • Financial services organizations can send the new employee to a banking center to perform customer transactions as a teller, or open a customer account as a personal banker.

Learn the role

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  • Managers should schedule weekly check-ins during the new employee’s first 90 days on the job.
  • Assign a functional team buddy to serve as a mentor and to provide on-the-job training.
  • Have the new employee attend soft-skills and technical training to complement their onboarding.

New hires are generally eager to step in on day one, trying to make an impact and demonstrate their value, but it’s important to provide them with time to learn the ropes. As learning leaders, we should challenge our organizations to value learning and provide the necessary frameworks to ensure new employees are successful. The results will include engaged employees skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, skills, and behaviors across the organization.

For more information on developing effective onboarding programs, learn about the Essentials of New Employee Onboarding online workshop offered through ATD.


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