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Every company has its own procedures and processes for new hires. From compensation and benefits forms, to training, to shadowing others – there are a lots of ways to bring new hires under the tent and make sure they become part of your organization and most importantly a contributor to the corporate strategy and culture.

While we agree there’s not necessarily one silver bullet that accomplishes all of this, at Root, we feel very strongly about one thing – onboarding, believe it or not, is an essential key to the success of your strategy.

It can be just plain scary be the newbie at any company. You’re not only walking into an established working environments and tightly knit social circles, but you literally have no idea what the corporate culture is really like and to make matters worse it can take a while to find the closest bathroom! Sure you can piece some of the puzzle together  from your interviews and other touch points in the hiring process, but until you are there, in person, it’s all pretty murky and even then…

There are two big components to the new hire dynamic. 1) The new employee is expected to come ready to bring the best of themselves to the job.  And must have willingness to absorb the strategic direction and the culture like a thirsty sponge, all while looking like they fit in.. 2) The company has a responsibility to provide the newbie with the information that helps them understand the company culture, the company strategy and how their job contributes to both.

Given all of that, you can imagine how fired up I was to read this recent article in Yahoo’s Finance Section, about a Microsoft Employee who quit after only four months of employment. The employee started his job, assuming he would be given information and materials to get him situated in his new role. Not a far-fetched assumption, right?

What he received, however, was “Some Microsoft SWAG, a few cheesy ice-breakers, a lengthy presentation about health insurance, a prerecorded message from Satya Nadella, some completely useless information about transportation, and then that was it.” Swag is nice, but a prepared employee it does not make. That’s not good for the employee or quite frankly for the company.

The lackluster orientation to Microsoft, coupled with a difficult boss, led the employee to jump ship before he even got a chance to become a fixture. Even more surprisingly, when he did quit, “it took two days for anybody to notice and the paperwork to get filed.”

This scenario isn’t just happening at the Microsoft’s of the world, this is a chronic issue across all size businesses, countries and industries. This case made headlines because the Microsoft name is a pretty big deal, but make no mistake about it, they are just one of a sea of companies out there with no official onboarding program or one that is ineffective.

Part of the problem may lie in the confusion between orientation and onboarding. In one of our recent white papers, Onboarding is Not Orientation, we highlighted this important distinction “While orientation encompasses signing up for benefits, understanding payroll, and getting a corporate identification badge, onboarding has a business impact and a results-oriented perspective. It includes everything a new hire needs to reach the minimum expected productivity level and become a valued contributor to the business.”

Employees are savvier than ever and don’t want those logoed koozies when they show up on their first day. They want and need to understand their role, how they fit into the big picture and most importantly, have a chance to give and receive feedback from day one. Communication is an essential part of the onboarding process. We need to use more common sense, any strong strategically sound onboarding process is built on communication. You are adopting a new family member and he or she needs communication to get settled, feel comfortable and truly become a part of the family. Great leaders know the strategic impact of onboarding vs. orientation and invest in it.

Onboarding isn’t just the topic de jour, it’s something we are personally vigilant about at Root, because we see the benefits of it regularly in our own company and with our clients (and the pitfalls from not doing it correctly).

Employee engagement scores, overall, have not risen in decades. Retention and the ability to harness discretionary effort is an ongoing challenge.  We believe you can stop investing in the All Company donut party to boost engagement and retention if you start investing in people and their contribution to the strategy and culture on day one.

Are you truly onboarding newbies or merely providing them with an orientation? Well? If you would like to talk more about onboarding, contact Root…we live for this stuff!

December 7, 2015


I want to hear how you can help my organization align on and activate our strategy. Call me, today.

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