Why Onboarding Programs Fail
A 2014 Bentley University study revealed that the majority of recent Millennial graduates gave themselves a C- when it came to their level of preparedness for the workforce. Many people from this huge generation, an estimated 75% of the global workforce by 2025, are arriving to your organization lacking skills, knowledge and cultural awareness they will need to be successful in the short and long term. When they arrive at our corporate doors, we must begin the process of onboarding and getting these new employees indoctrinated into our cultures. But are we doing it well? Are we reaching this generation who will be critical to our success?
Beyond the office tour, the overwhelming series of introductions, and the welcome lunch, here are a few suggestions on how to make your organization’s onboarding process more appealing and beneficial for your Millennial audience.
Bring them into the cultural fold
I am going to make a shocking suggestion: people learn people skills and expected behaviors best from other people. In this way, social learning relationships are key to the onboarding process, for Millennials and non-Millennials alike. Just like any other “outsider,” newly-hired Millennials are completely clueless when it comes to cultural expectations, so it is helpful to give them access to peers and colleagues whom they can ask questions and use as examples to model their own behavior and to fit the established cultural norms of the organization. These trusted advisors can help new hires understand everything from how to dress on casual Friday to how to best bring a new idea to senior leadership or navigate your organization’s internal politics. In my experience, Millennials have an almost exaggerated need for affiliation, most likely due to our inclusive nature and prolific participation in social communities. Add that to this generation’s lack of general corporate experience and cultural awareness, and the need for social learning opportunities from day one becomes clear.
Why not take advantage of an opportunity to get Millennials excited about your learning and development options and their new roles? Why let your onboarding program be remembered as those overwhelming few days marked by boredom, death by PowerPoint, or feelings of alienation? Do your organization and your Millennials a favor, and create an onboarding experience that fits how adults learn best and will help young (and maybe even not-so-young) new hires become productive members of your workforce more quickly!