Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing a direction, part of Onboarding New Hires.
Every organization faces a decision about how formally to handle the process of bringing on new employees. There are two extremes to consider. The first is the more common approach. That's onboarding, which is the focus of this entire course. The other major choice is to do nothing. That's right, for many people, even in many professional roles, they're just told to get to work. We call that "the sink or swim approach," or more commonly, the "on-the-job training" approach. Let me begin by stating that there is no perfect approach.
Every person is different, and we all have different learning styles. That is, how we effectively take in information and retain it and understand it is different across people. One of the common mantras in the world of onboarding is that we need to provide a consistent initial experience across new employees. I tend to agree, but I do think you also have to strive to understand each individual's needs. Having said all of that, one of those two general approaches is most popular, and that's a formal onboarding process.
The benefits are huge. They include everything from more informed and connected employees to higher productivity and retention. However, it's also true that any formal process will have costs, whether that refers to dollars spent or time invested. Those costs also include the unavoidable short-term hit to productivity you'll experience while the new person goes through the onboarding process, before actually beginning their job. So maybe we should at least consider the sink-or-swim option for just a moment.
On-the-job training has been around for many decades, and in fact, it's far older as a way to handle new hires. It makes sense if you think about it. What do we do with the new guy? Put them to work and let them start learning. It seems obvious, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not. There are pros and cons. Consider these pros. First, people begin adding to your team's productivity immediately. Another clear benefit is that learning is 100 percent applied and utilized. There's no loss of learning between a classroom setting and the real job setting.
Finally, the cost of your training budgets are nonexistent, because they just start working. Of course, there are several cons to the on-the-job training approach. For example, employees often experience higher stress, less confidence, and a feeling of not being supported and set up for success. Okay, so what's the solution? I have three ideas to help you. First, within a budget that won't hurt you too much, you do want to outline a thoughtful onboarding process following the general guidelines presented in this course.
This investment will pay off. Second, recognize that the people going through the process are all different. Some will need you to spend more time than is common, and others will require far less hand holding. Get to know your new employees as people so that you can tailor your effort just a little to meet their unique needs. Finally, you can still get some of the benefits of the on-the-job training approach without many of the costs. For example, try using the throw-them-in approach for just a few hours each day during the first few days of onboarding activities.
That way, they get the comfort and support associated with a structured onboarding process and a little of the pressure of actually doing the job, and feeling the exhilaration and stress associated with their new role. It might take you some time upfront, but the time you spend planning and executing the onboarding process will save you tons more time later. It leads to more engaged and productive employees, and those are employees more likely to stay for the long haul, and help you continue to build the team.
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