The Onboarding Portal: a stitch in time

Posted on June 17, 2010 by


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Think back to a job you couldn’t wait to leave. When was the first moment you realized that it wasn’t going to work out? For many of us, even if we enjoyed a “honeymoon” period where we were willing to forgive any number of sins, we looked back later on our very first week in an unhappy position and realized we “should have known …”

When onboarding, you are guiding these first – and lasting – impressions. The new hire is evaluating their situation closely during their first few days and weeks on the job. A new team member who doesn’t become emotionally attached early on is vulnerable to negative outside (or even internal) influence; they may begin planning an exit strategy before even fully latching on to their new role.

Harrison and our social learning development team have been working on a number of new onboarding portal projects, sparking a surge of  positive, creative energy here at Media 1. We see the focus on onboarding as a welcome sign that our economy is stabilizing as our large corporate clients are projecting to bring on significant numbers of new team members. More important, we’re really pleased to see clients take make time to plan ahead and develop systems and tools to support any process, rather than waiting until there is an urgent problem to clean up. Performance consultants know it’s always easier and more cost-effective to set up a process correctly in the first place rather than waiting for things to blow up and having to redirect later.  

A well designed onboarding portal can guide the end-to-end onboarding experience, including all the paperwork and informational activities formerly known as “New Hire Orientation,” as well as more advanced assignments such as engaging with an internal coach or preparing to meet with management for the first time. Social learning elements can bring team members together to support each other informally, while a more formal guided cohort experience can induct new sales people or managers. Think of it as a performance support system for the onboarding process. The portal provides a standardized framework that can be readily customized by each region to accommodate global hires. It doesn’t replace an LMS or HRS system, when available, but ideally guides new hires to both at the appropriate times.

Successful onboarding is the proverbial “stitch in time” that “saves nine.” I’m eager for “before/after” retention statistics, and will try to encourage clients to track them. Meantime, we’ll keep collecting ideas to help build a better onboarding experience.

What do you know now that you wish you knew the first week on the job? The first months? Let us know!