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June 2019
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TD Magazine

U.S., Canadian Execs Are Least Likely to Be Onboarded

There's a lack of formal onboarding processes compared to other global regions.

Executives play a crucial role in their organizations' future health, but new research suggests that executives in the United States and Canada are not being set up to succeed. A study by the executive career service BlueSteps asked more than 1,400 executives worldwide about their onboarding experiences. It found that executives in the United States and Canada are less likely than their counterparts in other countries to receive formal onboarding. Sixty-four percent of U.S. and Canadian executives said that they received no formal onboarding when they started their most recent roles, making them 35 percent less likely to receive onboarding than the global average. Executives in the Middle East and Africa were most likely to receive onboarding; 58 percent reported going through a formal onboarding process.

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On a scale of one to 100, U.S. executives rated their onboarding experience as mediocre with an average score of 59. One contributing factor to this mediocre onboarding experience may be that onboarding is failing to keep pace with current workplace challenges. Only 30 percent of U.S. executives received guidelines on social media or corporate brand responsibility as part of their onboarding process, and only 42 percent received any IT training.

When asked what they would want included in the onboarding process, executives worldwide identified company goals and vision at the top of the list, followed by summary of internal processes, overview of team culture, IT training, and introduction to other teams and offices.

Discussions about executives and onboarding usually stress the role that executives can play in onboarding general employees. ATD Research's Onboard, Engage, and Develop: How Organizations Improve Effectiveness found that only 20 percent of the talent leaders surveyed said that their senior business leaders were directly involved in onboarding new employees, even though 56 percent of respondents said that these same leaders saw value in onboarding programs. While executives can be a crucial factor in launching and sustaining onboarding programs, it's important to keep in mind that these executives also need effective onboarding themselves to truly help their organizations succeed.

About the Author

Eliza Blanchard, APTD, is ATD's Learning & Development content manager. Contact her at eblanchard@td.org.

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