Top Trends in Employee Onboarding in 2021 to Look Out For

Allan Alveyra Allan Alveyra | | 6 Minutes Read

Over the years, we saw the unprecedented rise of remote work as an adaptation to the transforming workplace. From human resource management to sales, modern technology is now at the center of every corporate process. Digital transformation is now also changing the way businesses view onboarding. With that in mind, here are the top trends in employee onboarding in 2021. 

Personalization 

The rationale behind personalization is simple: users are “people.” Personalizing or orientation process begins with the idea that human beings have unique needs. Therefore,  materials must be accurate and relevant.  

Charles Cagle, Senior Vice President at Infor, explained that a successful onboarding program should “accelerate new hire time-to-productivity, improve job satisfaction and reduce administrative burden.” This can only be accomplished by supplying the employee with a “personalized new hire experience.”

Personalized refers to the notion that each new hire is presented only with the onboarding materials that are relevant to them (i.e. his/her particular location and the specific role in the organization). When you have technology to accomplish these practical steps aligned to each individual, you free up time for the new hires’ first few days to be focused on meaningful activities that accelerate productivity and engagement with the organization.

Charles Cagle

Providing relevant and accurate materials is just one of the various ways to personalize an training experience. Others include: 

  • Providing flexibility and choice for employee as regards onboarding phases, scheduling, and contents. 
  • Building a system that is available across different devices. 
  • Enabling new hires to use their preferred personal technology. 
  • Assigning buddies and mentors that will guide or assist the new hire. 
  • Mapping your new employee’s skills data against the requirements of their role.  

Personalization also relies on great data. However, gathering data can be one of the biggest challenges in onboarding. The lesson here is to leverage the right tools that will provide you with great ease when it comes to data collection and insight analysis. Building a Learning Management System would be a wise decision.  

Automation 

Automation results in a more consistent and quality onboarding program because it helps harness multiple processes at the same time. If you have a single system that allows a consistent and swift experience, onboarding becomes more efficient and engaging. 

Automation also results in a strong onboarding process. This is essential because according to Glassdoor, a reliable onboarding process improves new employees’ retention by 82 % and productivity by over 70 %. In addition, here are other benefits of automating employee onboarding: 

  • Reduces mundane tasks, therefore saving you more time 
  • Centralizes processes  
  • Helps avoid redundancy 
  • Ensures accuracy of documentation 
  • Gives in-depth reports and important analytics 

Mobile Onboarding 

Currently, there are 3.8 billion smartphone users worldwide according to Statista. In 2019, the average US adult spent 3 hours and 43 minutes a day on mobile devices. Considering these statistics, you can say that in today’s culture, the average human spends a great amount of time using their smartphones. From sending emails and notifications, to creating digital hubs for engagement, using smartphones perfectly makes sense, especially in workplaces.  

Onboarding through mobile apps is both appealing and practical because it basically provides a unique experience all at the tip of their fingertips. Some of its benefits are: 

Accessibility 

By giving new employees access to an onboarding mobile app, they can familiarize themselves with their new working environment even before the actual onboarding. And as soon as they get the hang of things, you can already allow them to continue their tasks whenever and wherever they want to. 

Immediacy 

The first day of onboarding can involve endless orientation rituals. Sometimes, new employees spend much time waiting for proper instructions. Mobile orientation apps help new recruits start onboarding as soon as they get to the office. Not having to wait for cues or important onboarding materials lessens the nerves and discomfort caused by prolonged anticipation.  

Constant Support 

There are moments during onboarding that tasks can become complex and confusing. The problem is that assistance may not always be provided round the clock, most especially outside office hours. The great thing about having a mobile app is that it provides constant support through online resources. Since information is easily available, newly hired employees don’t need to feel conscious and intimidated whenever compelled to ask questions directly to their managers or peers.  

Keeping up with the ever-dynamic digital world might require investing your time, effort, and money in new technologies such as an onboarding mobile app. But such a move is worth the investment as human resource development processes continue to evolve overtime.  

Going Beyond Paper and Process 

According to Sapling, 58 % of organizations say their onboarding program is focused on processes and paperwork. While this may look normal, it’s considered one of the biggest challenges in onboarding.  

Onboarding should bring the best out of your new employees’ enthusiasm and passion. If you want to take advantage of this new energy, you have to innovate and make your process more “personal.”  

As what Carol Stokes said in her bookElephants Before Unicorns, “an impersonal grindingly slow onboarding process is an unnecessary elephant keeping your unicorns (aka star employees) from reaching their full potential.” 

To go beyond the traditional processes and paperwork, begin incorporating the following: 

The Buddy Program 

A buddy program is not that complicated; it’s fairly easy to implement. But a buddy cannot be oversimplified as a go-to person. An onboarding buddy helps a new recruit navigate through the intricacies of his or her new working environment. An onboarding buddy is someone who provides context for the new employee. Think of a buddy as a living employee handbook.

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

87 % of organizations say that buddy programs boost new hire proficiency.

 After piloting a buddy program involving 600 employees across the organization, Microsoft found that onboarding buddies help their hires in three ways:

  • Providing context
  • Boosting productivity
  • Improving employee satisfaction

Gamification 

Who says onboarding can’t be fun?  

An addition to modern onboarding elements is gamification. Gamification in onboarding is a strategy that uses game-based components such as competition, kudos, and scores to boost employee engagement.  

As modern tools such as Learning Management systems become more available, gamification is becoming a trending topic in eLearning and a popular choice in workplaces. Why? It’s because gamification encourages active participation, which in return increases productivity rate. In fact, it is said that 90 % of employees are more productive when they use gamification. 

Gamified onboarding can be as straightforward as turning a customer service training into role playing scenarios. Remember also that gamification doesn’t always require the use of modern technology. It only needs a touch of creativity and resourcefulness.  

Important considerations when implementing gamification in your onboarding program:

  • Identify first the goals you want to achieve through gamification.
  • Always consider these three elements: beginner level, reward system, and leaderboard.
  • Clarify the purpose of gamification to your onboarding participants.
  • Tailor your gaming elements to specific employee needs and workflow
  • Find a way where employees can share their feedback and make suggestions for improvement. 

Social Learning  

Some say that people learn best when they observe and imitate others through social interaction. As regards onboarding, social interaction is pivotal in providing new employees the right footing.  

Strong social connections make people happier and physically healthier, which can translate into work performance. Employers who support social connections in the workplace and help employees form strong relationships with one another help build a successful workforce.

Alan Kohll, Founder and president of TotalWellness 

Promoting social learning does not only foster a healthy working environment, but it also facilitates informal learning among new employees. Simply allowing new employees to share insights or ask questions through forums or friendly discussions, gives them the confidence to integrate themselves into the company. 

Optimize Your Onboarding with Cursum’s Solution 

Before the first quarter of 2021 ends, it’s good to figure out if your onboarding is on trend. If not, it would be your company’s best interest to revisit your existing onboarding program and identify which of its elements need some makeover. In this light, applying the concepts discussed earlier will set your onboarding program apart from others.  

We at Cursum can provide you the perfect platform or solution to optimize your onboarding process. Try our platform that uses all the modern elements that will help you get the best out of your employees’ onboarding experience. Consider this as your first step towards investing in a more innovative human resource development program.  

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