It was almost the first day of school, and my son had no belt.
This may seem like an insignificant detail, but when your 7-year-old is about to start at a brand new school in a brand new city with brand new uniforms, a belt is incredibly important.
To be honest, it had completely slipped my mind. What I forgot to take into consideration was that this is his first day of school this year at this school, and that each first day is different and deserves the same amount of time and attention as all the other ones.
I made the same mistake many organizations make when it comes to preparing for a new employee’s “first day.” Onboarding is one of those processes that everyone owns, yet nobody owns, and as a result, it tends to fall between the cracks. It’s easy to take it for granted, too. After all, employees still get hired, paperwork is still completed, and employees start their jobs - and if there are some hiccups along the way, what’s the harm?
Turns out, good onboarding boosts longer-term employee retention, increases employee commitment, and reduces turnover in the first 45 days. Despite knowing all of this, many organizations neglect the onboarding process, focusing more on paperwork and processes than helping the employee find their place within their team. Most organizations only focus on the first week of work, even though it takes, on average, eight months for a new employee to reach full productivity.
Even then, many organizations struggle with getting the paperwork right - pre-boarding activities are becoming more and more popular (new employees have up to 54 activities to complete), yet due to system integration struggles, too many employees show up on Day One without even having an active system username and password.
We know it’s important, so why are so many of us doing it so poorly? Short answer - inattention and ownership.
Because there typically isn’t a single owner of the pre-boarding/onboarding process, you end up with a Frankenstein of a workflow - multiple systems, multiple stakeholders, and multiple pain points. Without overseeing the process from end-to-end, organizations lose sight of what it’s like to be onboarded, with different stakeholders focusing only on sections that matter to them. It’s easy to lose sight of the overall effect the process is having on new employees. Even at IA, despite our best intentions, we find ourselves relying on our new joiners’ experience and self-motivation to figure things out.
So moving forward, let’s all commit to being more intentional about that “first day” (and beyond) approach. Let’s remember that while most employees have had first days before, they haven’t had THIS first day. Think about the things that need to be done to help a new employee prepare for their new position, and to succeed once they’re there.
Thankfully, despite my own lack of planning, my son ended up with a belt and had a great first day of school. There’s hope for all of us.
With warm regards,
Founder/Managing Principal/Belt Procurer, IA