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Meaningful Employee Onboarding

It’s a Monday at 7:40am and I’m sitting in my hotel room waiting to start a new job when my phone rings.  It’s a new colleague asking me where I am and telling me the sales meeting I flew 2,500 files on a Sunday to attend started at 7:30am.  With a sick feeling in my stomach I quickly walk across the street and enter my new corporate HQ for the first time as an employee.  Unfortunately the feeling in my stomach is about to get worse.

Once inside I walk through an empty lobby, down an empty hallway flanked by empty cubes on one side and empty offices on the other.  It wasn’t until I got to the back that I see through a glass wall a group of people meeting.  Within the group I recognized a couple of people who interviewed me. Feeling relieved I’m in the right place I think they might wave me in.  Wrong.  After making eye contact and not receiving the “wave in” I walk in and take an empty seat.  I must be wearing my special invisible suit because no one even says good morning.  Sitting there, five minutes into my first morning I knew my time with this firm would be short and likely unpleasant.

I am sharing the experience above to further the ongoing conversation on the importance of onboarding for new employees.  Obviously my first impression of the firm described was not good.  In a paper titled “Onboarding New Employees; Maximizing Success” SHRM describes the “Four C’s” of employee onboarding as Compliance, Clarification, Culture, and Connection.  Clearly my experience exposed some onboarding gaps in Clarification, Culture and Connection.

Today I work for Caliper, a global management consulting firm.  In my client facing role I enjoy talking with clients about an onboarding enhancement called Meaningful Onboarding.   Meaningful Onboarding is achieved by gaining an understanding of an individual’s strengths, challenges, motivations and overall potential.  An instrument like the Caliper Profile is ideally suited for uncovering and sharing these elements with the individual and organization.  Profile results can be easily integrated into existing onboarding programs like IBM’s “Connection Coaches” or Zappos four-week new hire training program.

Meaningful onboarding helps the new employee further understand their potential in a new role fueling self-confidence.  The SHRM paper recognizes employee confidence is a critical influencer of employee motivation, success, organizational commitment and turnover.

Meaningful onboarding also helps the new employee understand their strengths and challenges related to building high quality relationships with leaders and peers within their new organization.  SHRM calls this social integration and acknowledges the important role it plays in employee performance and job satisfaction.

Avoiding the “invisible suit” outcome I described is easy to overcome with basic good manners.  That said, I highly recommend taking a moment to imagine how meaningful onboarding could enhance the comfort and confidence your current program provides to new hires.

Scott Brihn




Scott Brihn
Director, Account Management


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