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All Aboard!

How technology helps people get settled into their new roles -even when things are moving fast

By Belinda Sharr

Your organization is no doubt moving quickly. As you bring in new people, you want them up to speed just as quickly as possible. But that’s no easy fix. Onboarding on a fast-moving, competitive organization can be like jumping on a moving train.

The good news: New technological tools can help you keep pace. Learning Management Systems (LMS), in particular, can help drive new hires make the leap onto that moving organization by making it easier for you to administer, document, track, report and deliver their onboarding training programs. And the best part is that LMS’s work no matter where the workers are located.

In the Cloud

A cloud-based LMS can allow both employers and employees to perform a successful onboarding, which increases the probability of the employee being happier in their new role and staying long term. The LMS is a place where employers can host proprietary onboard training such as documents, surveys, PowerPoint presentations, and other learning materials. The new employee has access to this information in real time, and they can provide feedback to the employer as well. The feedback aspect is something that is not as easily available in traditional (paper-based) training processes, and being able to have concrete onboarding results will allow the employer to see what is working and what’s not.

Feedback Loops

Mindflash CEO Donna Wells says feedback is crucial to a successful onboarding process.

“One of the biggest problems with traditional onboarding is that you don’t have that feedback loop,”She says. “[Companies spend] time and money [on hiring] and receive no feedback. LMS helps employees be more productive and effective from the start. The system reports back to the training manager. You understand where you need to spend more time, and you get that when providing online tools,” she explains. “This gives companies the chance to see the return on the big investment.”

Along with that investment, combining LMS with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, offers a way for employers to track the onboard process to specific monetary goals.

“The integration between LMS and CRM tie training performance to bottom line of the company,” Wells says.

Anywhere Access

Wells believes the right always-accessible technology helps ensure the employee onboarding experience is successful.

“Any technology you’re using to deliver information has to be available on any device anywhere around the world,” she says. “New hires have the expectation ‘I can access anything around the world.’ Having this system sends a strong signal of being innovative and forward thinking.”

This technology is necessary for employees to adapt well to their new work environment. One key is the importance of real time communication – making sure new employees have instant access to services when they come onboard. Once they log on, they can “do the job anywhere and be productive from day one,” Wells says.

Beth Roekle, president of Advantage xPO US, compares the past onboarding experience to today: “In the past, it was not uncommon for new hires to not receive their security badges and laptops on their first day, or have access to the corporate network. Nowadays, when designing onboarding processes, a best practice is to build in task management systems and employee tracking tools to ensure that new hires do not fall through the cracks,” she says.

Socialization Situations

Tim Jones, head of RPO & partner consulting at Lumesse, agrees that having this kid of mobile, instant technology, as well as social media, can be helpful to having a successful onboarding process.

“There’s a socialization of people with technology: [If you ask] ‘Who are you,’ you can look at LinkedIn,” Jones says. “It’s a two-way social interaction. You give something, and you get something back. That’s the key difference today. [Onboarding] can no longer just be back office things. Our software as a service provider technology (SaaS) and the web work in cooperation.”

HR professionals using the technology can help achieve successful onboarding by making the employee feel comfortable from the beginning and providing them with everything they need to know – not just taskspecific items but things like “where do I park?” and “what does the CEO look like?” These small details can have a significant impact on how the employee adjusts and succeeds at onboarding.

Onboarding Apps

Other current useful onboarding technologies include conference management apps, which not only work for conferences, but for new employees as they schedule their busy first few weeks on the job. The technology allows workers to keep up with their schedule minute-by minute on their smartphone. Similarly, some companies have specifically designed apps that allow new employees and their managers to set projects, tasks and goals.

“I think that’s really creative – I’d like to see a lot more of our customers thinking different,” Wells says. “Just because [the apps] are not called ‘onboarding’ doesn’t mean they can’t help. Think of the burden it takes off of HR, by ‘hacking’ other applications.”

Future Practices

Looking to the future, Jones sees the constant advancement of technology helping with onboarding in different ways. He notes how technology is becoming more and more mobile. “Not just with mobile devices however. There are location services; you can find friends,” he says. “[One can ask] ‘if I’m in my office how do I know where my colleagues are’?” Connecting people further is something he believes is in the future of onboarding.

Roekle looks to video and social media as well.

“According to industry experts, best-in-class companies will offer more videos featuring executives and subject matter experts to complement their onboarding strategies,” she says.

“Internal social media tools will also be incorporated into the process; for instance, a portal for pre-boarding new hires that offers an interactive environment for Q&A and engagement with other employees.”

The onboarding experience indeed looks to continue to evolve and connect future employees and employers further.

Tags: March-2016

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