It's an important word in the business world, however, it needs approached with caution. While some HR and business trends are necessary to creating motivated, successful, and even happy employees, many become major fails.
Tanya-Marie Nichols, senior manager and Americas HR business partner at Alexander Mann Solutions, a global outsourcing and consulting agency, experienced this firsthand while working at another company.
"They decided it would be trendy, and make them more likeable, if they added a Friday happy hour to the onboarding plan," Nichols explained. "They required the new hires to walk around the office every Friday afternoon to collect donations in order to purchase the alcohol and snacks."
After this attempt to help new hires become acquainted with their colleagues, the company began to notice new hires were leaving within 6 months of employment.
"We heard increased commentary from people about not wanting to be part of a 'party culture' during the exit interview process. The company was not at all that fun party place, so this was their attempt at being a bit more fun," Nichols added.
The company's plan to be new, fun, and trendy clearly backfired. Unfortunately, this is a common theme for organizations that are attempting to catch up to the latest onboarding trends.
Here are three more onboarding trends you need to take with a grain of salt:
Mentorship is one of the most commonly suggested onboarding tips out there. However, when David Waring, co-founder of Fit Small Business, an educational resource for small businesses, tried this at his company, it wasn't successful.
"The training that new employees received varied greatly depending on who they were partnered with, so we ended up with a very inconsistent and poorly-trained team," Waring explained. "At the same time, our sales suffered because our best staff was spending less time selling and more time training."
To recover, Waring and his team put an end to the mentorship program. In its place, they began a two-week onboarding training program that was led by someone with expertise in training -- not sales.
When considering mentorship as part of your onboarding program, first decide what your onboarding goals are and how they can be accomplished. Look to those who would lead the training and ask if they can afford to take the time to onboard or if the company would benefit more from hiring a specialist.
If you decide this is a trend you have to try, be sure to start on a smaller scale. Have just one or two employees attempt mentoring new hires during onboarding to test the waters. Set aside a specific time for them to meet with new employees each day, so they don't feel overwhelmed with extra work on top of their daily duties.
Optimism is key.
Positivity can go a long way. But this trend has gotten out of control in hiring and onboarding processes -- and companies are noticing.
"Optimists attribute positive outcomes to their internal characteristics and negative ones to an unlucky environment, which is the opposite of what you want when managing an operation," said Josh Meah, CEO and founder of Therapist.Marketing, a private practice marketing company for therapists.
"My previous COO was optimistic and highly qualified on all accounts, but that same optimism and lack of self-blame created significant performance issues repeatedly," he continued. "Errors were frequently viewed as isolated incidents, and should have been considered possible systemic concerns with broad consequences."
Too much optimism in the onboarding process can lead to major mistakes with multiple people, not just one. When everything is sugarcoated and isolated, new hires will not realize their mistakes, training will be even more difficult, and the rate of personal improvements will drop.
Balance is key in most business aspects, especially with optimism. Staying positive, but realistic will make new hires feel supported, while also keeping them in check with where they can improve and what errors are causing major issues. To do this, celebrate and recognize the good work they're doing and acknowledge their improvements.
Faster is better.
Onboarding is often approached at a quick pace. Everyone gets excited when a new hire starts, but most people look forward to the moment when they don't need as much guidance. However, rushing through the onboarding process leads to mistakes and can cause new hires to feel unprepared for their roles.
Onboarding should not only be slowed down, it should be continuous. Your team is constantly changing and growing, so it's important to go through the same steps and phases for those changes.
Use an onboarding platform like Worktap to encourage onboarding throughout an employee's entire career. As employees get promoted or the company's structure changes, they'll adapt to their developing surroundings at a comfortable pace. Continued onboarding also helps everyone stay connected and feel supported.