The onboarding : the pivotal moment of employee experience

There are two key dimensions in employee experience. The first is about turning it into reality at each touchpoint between the employee and the organization, the second is the consistency of the employee journey. This post is about this second one.

The employee journey is made of different stages : discovery, application, recruitment, onboarding, career path, learning, leaving, alumni…

Employees suffer from the slicing of their journey

Two things.

First : each of this steps has a specific owner, a different department and, is it a surprise, collaboration between owners is low.

Second : there is no clear leadership on the overall journey, no one accountable for the whole, what causes an obvious lack of consistency of the employee experience.

What is proven by these frequent symptoms

• Employee wait for hours on they first day because their manager does not have time to welcome them (sometimes the manager does not even know that someone is starting this day).

• is work environment (laptop etc) is not ready and the employee is asked to come with his own computer and phone.

• loging / passwords not configured

• to sign his contract, the employee is asked to transmit documents he’s already transmitted during the recruitment process.

• the employee is left alone with tons of policies and processes to learn.

Far, very far from a consistent and seamless experience.

The onboarding is not the only moment when the inconstancy appears but it’s a pivotal moment, the moment when one can measure the gap between the promise and the reality. In some case it means moving from a palace to a camping trop. That’s not acceptable for such a moment of truth in the employee journey.

What makes a good onboarding ?

A good onboarding requires coherence first ? From the promise to the reality of work, including the onboarding, the employee must not feel that he met 3 different companies.

This coherence requires a consistent management of the employee journey instead of managing it like isolated touchpoints. Sometimes the onboarding looks like a messy marshalling yard and I don’t think this is what businesses want they employees to experience on their first day at work.

This coherence also requires collaboration. At least with the upstream and downstream links. Knowing that a ne employee is coming, having everything ready and manage the three following dimensions : integration in the company (culture, policies), in this job (managers, colleagues, processes), in the human community of the company. As a matter of fact the onboarding is an transitory moment, but it’s the beginning of something, it triggers a journey.

The onboarding : an experiential moment that’s key to the employer brand

The onboarding must also be experiential. A “little something” that make the employee remember this moment for the rest of his life, something he would want to thank the company for and that will contribute to the employer brand.

In the age of social networks and sites like Glassdoor, the employer brand is less and less what the company says but what employees say about it, what they say they experienced. It’s all about the difference between what was promised and what really happened. That’s why many employer branding projects fail : most employer brands directors have only the means to communicate, not to make the promise come true.

When Renault’s new employees meet Carlos Ghosn

This discussion on the experiential nature of the onboarding reminds me of something I saw recently.

After a couple of hard years and reinvention, Renault started to hire again in 2016. Making the onboarding of the generation that will have to carry the company of the company for the future (electric cars, positioning vs. GAFAs etc…) a success and making it visible from the outside that the company was back in the race was essential.

250 of the 1000 employees hired this year, from all kind of units and departments, were invited to a special event.

First they attended the Paris auto show and were equipped with cameras to make movies about what they saw, what they discovered.

The second was a meeting their iconic CEO, Carlos Ghosn. They asked him question on many subjects without any preparation. Ghosn answered spontaneously to all questions…even some disturbing ones.

That’s a very good onboarding experience for young employees being able to meet with an iconic CEO. I have no doubt they will remember this day for a long time/

But such an event sets the expectations high for the rest of the process and managers will have to deliver on the implicit promise : ” you’re joining a company that wants to play a major role in a changing world”.

But that’s another story…


Crédit photo : fotolia

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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