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Rapid Onboarding with Speed and Scale

Brad Chambers, Ph.D. and Kile Dyer, M.A.
August, 2020

Organizations often implement assessments to ensure they hire the right people. However, the effectiveness (i.e., identifying the right people) and speed of the hiring process are often juxtaposed. While both are extremely important, they are often mutually exclusive—meaning you cannot have both—and companies must choose between them. Even when an organization strikes the right balance on both, sometimes a role has to be backfilled again and again. So, what’s missing here?

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Why onboarding matters

Research by Brandon Hall Group (2015) indicates that strong onboarding processes can improve new hire retention by more than 80% and productivity by more than 70%. Therefore, it is critical that organizations get onboarding right—integrating new hires into the organization, teaching them about the organization's culture, strategy, products, services, clients, and procedures, as well as their individual role’s responsibilities.

Most organizations have a general sense of what new hires need to learn and do early in their tenure to ramp up quickly and effectively. However, not all employees have the same learning needs, and not all people learn in the same way. Thus, while onboarding objectives and key learnings may be definitive across the organization, each individual’s specific learning needs and the methodology used to deliver the learning will vary from one person to the next.

Great onboarding in practice

Consider the onboarding process for new managers at Great Gains, a fictitious multinational financial services organization. Managers need to learn how their team fits into the broader company—the touch points, interactions, interdependencies, etc.

Imagine two individuals who are new to the manager role at Great Gains. One is an introvert who needs to be intentional about social interactions, while the other is more extroverted and has no problems striking up conversations with people. The introvert will likely onboard best by experiencing a series of relationship mapping and networking activities, which encourages them to interact with others. By contrast, the extrovert will likely do better with a listening tour—meeting with stakeholders and listening to what they have to say without offering their own opinion.

While differentiated, both approaches have the end goal of teaching the new manager about the organization and how their new team fits in. Throughout this process, managers will also build their network, which enhances engagement and collaboration during the experience.

How assessments fit in the picture

Assessments also have a critical role to play in the onboarding experience. Hiring and onboarding best practices leverage assessments for any of the following three purposes:

  1. Assessments help identify which individuals are best suited for the job efficiently and free from unconscious bias.
  2. Assessments help identify development opportunities and learning needs. Both of these are accomplished by measuring candidates on attributes (e.g., knowledge, skills, abilities) that are important for job success, and identifying whether these attributes represent strengths or gaps for candidates.
  3. Assessments can help identify elements of candidates' personalities or learning styles that have an impact on onboarding activities. In fact, the best assessments will not only provide insights to onboarding needs and plans, but they will also start the onboarding process itself during the evaluation experience by providing exposure to the organization’s culture and strategy.

The most efficient hiring and onboarding process accomplishes all three of these goals with a single assessment. What does this look like in practice?

What great onboarding assessments look like

Imagine you are reviewing a candidate and receive two reports, both from the same assessment. One describes the candidate’s strengths and growth opportunities, which are contextualized to the role’s requirements. This would be primarily used for hiring decisions. The second report describes the candidate's learning opportunities in more detail and provides a recommended onboarding plan covering the first 30, 60, and 90 days on-the-job. This report would be used after the hiring decision has been made to help facilitate an efficient and effective onboarding process for both the new hire and hiring manager. Producing both of these reports from a single assessment streamlines the hiring and onboarding process into an efficient mechanism for evaluating potential new hires and identifying next steps once they get in the door.

Carefully designed, assessments can streamline your hiring process. One way to ensure your assessments are high-fidelity and deeply contextual is to partner with industrial-organizational psychologists who specialize in helping organizations gather information on people and make informed decisions based on data. These experts can help guide your hiring process and ensure you achieve your desired results.

Using assessments to create a positive candidate experience have important considerations from both legal and psychometric perspectives. However, developed and used properly, they provide a great experience for candidates while adding significant value to organizations by helping them hire and onboard people both quickly and effectively.

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