Four out of five companies can testify that onboarding new hires leads to such positives as higher job satisfaction, better job performance, greater commitment to the organization, and stress reduction. According to the author of a new book on business trends, many companies are now doing the same for existing employees, a process called "inboarding."
"Inboarding is really just an extension of the idea of onboarding. There is no reason to think that it is too late for the rest of the roster who arrived after onboarding began or have already gone through onboarding," says Dana Borowka, co-editor along with Ellen Borowka of the new anthology Cracking the Business Code.
According to Larry Cassidy, a contributor to the new book, the purpose of inboarding is to set existing, rather than new, employees up for greater success. You want the same payoffs: higher job satisfaction, better job performance, and greater commitment to the goals of the organization.
Cassidy is a senior consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and a chair with Vistage International for the past 27 years. He currently works with some 50 executives every month and has facilitated over 1,300 executive group meetings, and participated in 12,000 face-to-face discussions with chief executives about all aspects of their businesses.
"Employees are not set-it-and-forget-it machines," says Cassidy. "The need for input is ongoing. Many inboarding communications tools and channels can be used to continually get the information across. If onboarding is like an inoculation, then inboarding is like booster shots."
In today's world of lean companies and global competitiveness, every employee counts. Treat your employee base like adults who are as interested in the future and success of the company as you are. Here are six tactics from Cassidy that can make inboarding work.
- Try town hall meetings, roundtable discussions, and even monthly newsletters (just the facts, not the fluff). Set up idea exchange sessions comprised of representatives from various functional areas of the organization. Have them share why they think another area is important. Having that feedback from other people in the organization can really open their eyes to the fact that what they do really matters.
- Create inboarding programs for specially selected employees who possess high potential for growth. These are the people you know would like to be major players for you as you go down the road.
- Consider project work as another inboarding technique. You might say to one of these special employees, "You have a chance to be a manager, but right now we think you are short on finance. So I am going to give you a project that lets you get your nose into the numbers."
- Maybe the solution is as simple as cross training. The restaurant chain, P.F. Chang's, took two important actions during the recession. First, they got rid of everything on the expense side that did not enhance the customer's dining experience. Second, they did a great deal of cross training, which allowed them to reduce head count because kitchen staff could fill in for wait staff and vice versa.
- Inboarding should be done on a regular, continual basis. If you do it episodically, then the employees tend to look at it as something the leaders do when something is wrong or when you get a big order.
- Don't neglect the social side. Functions like the company picnic and the holiday party are important. So is the celebration for the big win. Regularly take a cross section of employees out for a lunch discussion. If you show genuine interest in your employees, they will know that you care.
"Overall, the inboarding payoff can be enormous," says Cassidy. "Never forget, it is the leader's job to create employee alignment with personal goals, management objectives, and company goals. Inboarding will give you better players and deeper bench strength. Technology is great, but technology doesn't give you the edge. Business is still about people."
For more ideas on running a successful business, check out Dana and Ellen Borowka's anthology Cracking the Business Code. The Borowka's firm, Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC (www.lighthouseconsulting.com), provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires and staff development, team building, interpersonal and communication training, career guidance and transition, workshops, and operation productivity improvement. Their first book is titled Cracking the Personality Code.