Unfortunately, most organizations have no idea of when and how to effectively engage with them. Too many onboarding programs are paper-based, classroom-driven and scheduled to begin after the new hire walks through the door.
That last one really hurts you.
You need to engage your new hires IMMEDIATELY, the day they accept your job offer, and continue engaging with them in ways that keep their enthusiasm high through their entire onboarding process.
Fill The ‘Lull’ With a Pre-Onboarding Program
The typical lull between offer acceptance and the new hire’s first day on the job is an enthusiasm killer. The application, interview and offer processes have your new hires fired up. You sold them on your company, they accepted and then, for them…silence. You’re busy. You’re doing other work, but your new hire is left hanging.
Remember, this is the texting-at-the-dinner-table generation. They “need” to stay in touch with their circle all the time. And, by hiring them, you’ve become a REALLY IMPORTANT member of that circle.
When they don’t hear from you or know what’s going on, they start to wonder. How serious are you about this relationship, anyway? Doubts creep in. They start thinking All this talk about teamwork and comraderie…was it real? Maybe I should keep interviewing and see if something better turns up.
One possible solution is to send them forms to fill out or literature to read before their first day on the job, but, quite frankly, this well-intentioned approach actually works against you. Filling out paper forms and forcing them to read form letters and outdated company literature screams “old fashioned,” “impersonal” and that worst of all Gen Y reviews: “lame.”
Digital Does It
Brochures and manuals won’t cut it with this crowd. Digital content — podcasts, videos, elearning, games, texts, blogs and online discussion forums — is the way to go, and can be a lot more cost effective. Here are a few ideas:
- Send your new hires a text every day with a “we can’t wait to get you onboard” message.
- Create a series of short, informal videos about your organization and send a link to one every day.
- Develop a newbies blog or online discussion forum with information that will let them know what to expect when they arrive.
- Create an online scavenger hunt that encourages them to research facts about the organization.
- Send them an email letting them know what to expect on their first day of work.
The key is to have a variety of content that your new hires can explore at their own pace in their own order and review as many times as they want. Millennials have grown up relying on technology to learn and live. In school and life, they watch videos, listen to interviews, read books, text questions to their friends, and play games to learn. Your onboarding process should follow this same pattern. Otherwise, you look out of date and ineffective.
Your “pre-onboarding” program doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Just touch base with your new hires quickly, regularly and informally, so it feels authentic and personal. Better yet, solicit ideas from millennials you’ve already brought onboard.
Lean Knowledge Transfer Tip – Quick, Rapid Prototyping
Before you rush out and spend a lot of money and resources to develop an entire portal or video game for pre-onboarding your millennials, make sure it’s something they’ll really use. In Lean Knowledge Transfer, we recommend quick, rapid prototyping. Start small, quick and inexpensive, get feedback from your newbies AND, don’t just ask them, TEST IT. Newbies may say they want something, but in reality may not really use it enough to justify a large expenditure of resources.
(Onboard Yourself is based on Maverick Lean Knowledge Transfer techniques. Learn more at www.maverickinstitute.com.)