In a packed room split between healthcare and other talent development practitioners, Jonathan Ellis took participants on a journey during his ATD 2016 Conference & Exposition session: “Transforming Onboarding: A Journey From Compliance to Connection.”
Ellis is a senior training specialist with the Center for Learning Excellence at University Health System. UHS is a six-time ATD Best award winner (see the 2015 BEST summary) and three-time Learning Elite award winner. He is the lead facilitator of UHS’s onboarding program and was a key contributor in its development.
Ellis instigated laughter when he, tongue in check, welcomed attendees to the University Health System team, saying they were now hired. Today—he mocked a far-too-typical onboarding session—we have 100 years of company history to cover. “So let’s get out our binders. I’ve got you all day, up through 5 p.m.”
Onboarding doesn’t have to be staid and boring, despite the rap it has garnered—often rightfully so. University Health System, as part of its revamping orientation, has incorporated gamification, building “The Journey Begins Now” program. Ellis’s team learned from others: by going to Las Vegas to benchmark against MGM.
Echoing Simon Sinek’s keynote earlier in the day, Ellis posed the question Sinek is famous for: “Why?” Why is onboarding so important? Audience members weighed in with “it offers a first impression,” “it gets employees ready to do their jobs,” and “it connects employees to the organization.”
That connection, said Ellis, is critical to retention. And while measuring many things in the talent development field is difficult, retention often is tied to a dollar return on investment.