Employer Branding

5 Greatest Onboarding Challenges And How To Overcome Them

There’s no denying that onboarding is a process which requires a lot of time and effort. The ideas I’m presenting here are just an introduction to the long list of onboarding challenges you will face in the process. Is it necessary to address them at all? The short answer is: yes. There’s no other way if onboarding in your company is to be effective and efficient. I know from experience that this will be beneficial to everyone involved: the employees, the managers, the HR department, and the management board. You can considerably facilitate and shorten the onboarding process if you approach the issue with reason and if you correctly predict your capabilities. How to achieve that? Your starting point will be the awareness of the process itself as well as of the challenges you will meet on your path.

1. For a Good Start

For many people who launch a new onboarding project, this is the first greatest challenge to face: how to start? Surprisingly enough, a good beginning does not mean planning the future: it means defining the present. A detailed outline of your present onboarding process will give you a better perspective and will make it easier for you to understand what you are going to deal with. It will also help you detect all the nuances that are not visible at first sight, indicate business owners, and force you to locate and select adequate content.

How to describe the existing onboarding process?

The best way to do this is to use the available simple tools you make use of on a daily basis. These can include Microsoft Word or Excel and any other programmes which support project management: PowerPoint, Canva, or Miro. Organise information dividing onboarding into particular components with specific deadlines, descriptions, topics, content, and persons responsible. Clients often complain about the time it takes to do that, but the effects will surprise you. Firstly, it frequently turns out that lots of content and materials are already available in the company; they just need some modifying. Secondly, this is a great way to convince the management board that such an investment is worthwhile.

Picture illustrating a worker onboarding process.

2. In the Sea of Content

Gathering all the details related to the actual state of onboarding in a company usually ends up with the HR department flooded with documents, presentations, charts, handwritten notes, videos, photos, and so on. Bad news is: all those resources have to be skimmed over and organised. But there is also good news. Normally, the more content you already have, the less you need to prepare for the new process. Don’t be afraid of information overload: simply adjust the content to its recipient. This way, you will improve the image of your company in the eyes of new employees. What does this mean in practice? For instance, if you present yourself as a modern company, show the structure of your organisation in the form of colourful infographics rather than a lengthy description.

Don’t be afraid to use diverse materials 

What matters apart from the amount of content is its diversity. While preparing materials for new employees, you can create a useful and visually attractive knowledge base, including e.g. articles, reports, photos, graphics (infographics, memes, gifs, comics), screenshots, mind maps, handwritten notes, FAQs, videos, screencasts, interactive content, podcasts, e-books, checklists, tests, quizzes, case studies, and any other types of documents.

See how HCM Deck helps in designing the employee onboarding programme.

3. The Approach to the Onboarding Process in an Organization

Who should be the most interested party when it comes to quick, efficient, and effective employee onboarding? Obviously, the managers. However, they are also the group that is the most difficult to invite to cooperation in implementing a modern onboarding process. There may be various reasons why this is the case: from the unwillingness to change to the lack of time. In fact, time is what you should accentuate in your talks with the business partners. Cost-effectiveness is the argument that appeals best to the board but time-effectiveness is the key factor for the managers. Don’t hesitate to emphasise it. If you remember to present agile onboarding as an investment, not as a cost, you will find it definitely easier to persuade the company into it.

Present the Key Performance Indicators

Onboarding digitalization and automation bring value to the whole organization. How to prove this? By measuring the KPIs. The basic indicator is connected with staff rotation and recruitment cost, but you can also measure the effectiveness of the employees before, during, and after the onboarding process. Even in the case of soft HR, numbers should not surprise or scare you, as they largely confirm your efficacy and performance.

Another picture illustrating a worker onboarding process.

4. The Choice of the Supplier

The choice of the supplier of onboarding services is not an easy task. As an expert in this field, I can safely say that no system is perfect, and yet some tools have a definitive competitive advantage, namely: their ability to be adapted to the needs of a particular organization. This should be always your point of reference. However hard to believe this may sound, many companies choose their suppliers headlong, without analysing their own needs instead of following market opinions. This is a fundamental mistake. Before you even start looking for a supplier, check what you already have and find out what you really need. And bear that in mind: it’s the tools that should be adapted to the needs of your organization, not the other way round.

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5. The Attitude to Change

Pay attention to customer care and service 

When selecting a supplier of the system to support the onboarding process in your organization, make sure you pay attention to customer care and service. Good opinions and a trustworthy image matter a lot; but individual competencies and the credibility of the professionals you are going to cooperate with for a couple of following months in the implementation process count as well. Check how the given service works and verify the level of customer care offered by the supplier.

One of the biggest challenges concerning onboarding implementation in any company is meeting the expectations of both managers and employees. To find out if these are actually met, you need to analyse their satisfaction at every stage of the process. However, that’s not enough. You have to assume that each element of the process is flexible and modifiable. This is the only attitude that guarantees success. You need more than a simple satisfaction survey – the conclusions and actions that follow it are equally important.

Run a pulse-check survey

A pulse-check survey is one of the easiest and most effective surveying methods. How does it work? You just ask a couple of simple questions to monitor the opinions and impressions of your employees here and now. They may refer to the company as a whole, but normally they are used to analyse a specific group of employees, a team, or a department. To run a pulse-check survey, you can use any accessible tool – and HR platform, a free online tool, or printed forms. One of the advantages of the survey is that it takes little time and doesn’t require any advanced analytical tools.

Onboarding is a process which requires the effort of a number of people and cross-functional collaboration. With appropriate support, feasible expectations, and positive attitude to change, you can implement it in a relatively easy, cheap, and effective manner.

If you’d like to talk about any particular challenge concerning the onboarding process in your company, feel free to contact us and arrange an individual consultation.

This article was written by Dariusz Rak who has over a decade of experience related to the implementation of tools supporting staff development in modern organizations, such as Santander Consumer Bank, Allianz, Leroy Merlin, or Nationale-Nederlanden.