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Onboarding New Employees: Where Design, Thinking And Analytics Go Hand In Hand

By Mattijs Mol, Global Program Head Recruitment Systems & Analytics, and Suzanne Keulen, Global Manager Onboarding & Quality, ASML

Mattijs Mol, Global Program Head Recruitment Systems & Analytics, and Suzanne Keulen, Global Manager Onboarding & Quality, ASML

Remember the first day in your current company. Most likely, you were excited and curious about the challenges ahead, but in the meantime also a bit anxious: different culture, new colleagues, and ways of working.

As the average tenure of employees is decreasing and so the window of return of investment is getting smaller in that sense, companies start recognizing the untapped potential of effectively on-boarding new colleagues. To increase competitive advantage and impacting profitability, investing in getting new employees acquainted to the companies habits an employee-centered on-boarding is vital.

"Combining design-thinking methodologies and a data-driven approach applied in on-boarding will increase the effectiveness in terms of the on-boarding experience, project adoption, and business impact"

Design Thinking Applied to On-boarding

The success of on-boarding starts and ends with people, it has to be centered around their needs. On-boarding refers not only to gathering the necessary knowledge and skills to execute the job but more importantly includes the integration in the organization and its culture. There is no perfect recipe that defines the right on-boarding methodology as it entirely depends on the context a company operates. So the question is where and how to start. A great way to start is to start seeing the world through the eyes of a new employee. It is the principles of design thinking that can offer practical tools to help identifying the moments that matter during the on-boarding phase. It all starts with empathy, an in-depth understanding of what your new employees, the managers of new employees and other colleagues face during the first period in the organization. This not only supports in defining the right strategy, it also creates buy-in for the interventions you want to implement at a later stage. Second, co-creation leads to shared ownership and responsibility. The execution of on-boarding happens within the organization and is not the exclusive domain of HR. The earlier different disciplines and perspectives are included and connected, more robust the on-boarding strategy will become. Third, over analyzing and planning hinders a proper adoption of interventions. Learning by doing and continuous listening to how activities are perceived about value-add helps in quickly identifying the path to success. Finally, multiple actors play an important role during stages, think about the manager, peers, HR representatives, so a holistic approach to defining the right strategy again is required.

Backing up with Data

HR analytics—creating business impact via the usage of people data— gives the HR function opportunities and insights to identify the right drivers to introduce, change or stop processes or initiatives. T his approach can also be applied on on-boarding, as normally companies do not invest (only) in it for fun, charity reasons or because they like the concept of employee experience. New employees are hired to add value to the organization and an effective on-boarding process, as mentioned, will help to speed up this incubation process. But how can we measure the effectiveness of the on-boarding journey? To find an answer first a clear definition needs to be in place—what is on-boarding, when does it start and when does it stop— and second, what does effective or successful mean in this case? From an HR Analytics point of view, an effective on-boarding program then has three main parameters:

First of all, the reduction of new hire attrition should be one of the key outcomes. People who leave during the on-boarding period will not add value to the organization. Secondly, the time to become productive is another important driver. In other words, do the on-boarding activities add value and help new colleagues to get up to speed faster?

Last but not least, an ongoing feedback loop approach needs to be in place. It is important to keep listening to the voice of your customer—both the new colleague and the hiring manager—about how on-boarding activities are perceived. This can be reached via structurally sent surveys, or pulse checks, where they can address their feedback, ideas and recommendations, and suggestions for improvements. A structure like this will guarantee relevant input about the program is captured, and will further increase perception and buy-in.

When a Plan Comes Together

Combining design-thinking methodologies and a data-driven approach applied in on-boarding will increase the effectiveness in terms of the on-boarding experience, project adoption, and business impact. Strong collaboration and ongoing conversations with your stakeholders result in an on-boarding approach, which is supported by all, where data helps in identifying the right drivers and recommendations for optimizing the on-boarding program. With these insights in mind, your on-boarding plan comes together!

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