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Let me start by explaining what I believe OnBoarding means today. There are hundreds of books you can read on this topic, but I will attempt to give you my simple CliffNotes version. Once you hire someone, the typical scenario is to get them signed up, go through new employee orientation, show them where they will be working, and get them started or trained. Then, you hope things work out quickly.

OnBoarding takes that process to a whole new level with a planned focus on the employees’ time, every hour of every day, for at least the first 30 days, if not more. The primary focus changes from getting them started to getting them comfortable in every aspect, including the culture, people and so on. This is done most successfully when all parties and people who interact with the new employee are engaged, rather than just making a simple introduction of "here is the new guy/gal, meet Jim."

This seems to be where most OnBoarding efforts either fail or fall short. Making sure the new employee is comfortable in all aspects, and allowing the time to repeat certain aspects until they are comfortable.

The stats tell us that the average person only learns or takes away 10 percent the first time around. At the same time, many companies assume once around is good enough. Also, many have added technology in their OnBoarding process, like video. While this technology is new and cool, it doesn't necessarily cater to how the human mind retains information. At least not on its own.

On average, learners retain approximately:
  • 90 percent of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately
  • 75 percent of what they learn when they practice what they learned
  • 50 percent of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion
  • 30 percent of what they learn when they see a demonstration
  • 20 percent of what they learn from audio-visual
  • 10 percent of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading
  • 5 percent of what they learn when they’ve learned from lecture
As you know, there are endless ways to make your OnBoarding program a success from the start and improve it as things progress. Accomplishing the goal of making new people comfortable quicker is always the goal, and the ways to accomplish that are endless. At the same time, assuming that someone will learn and be comfortable right away is a costly mistake. The extra time it takes to ensure new employees are comfortable is far less costly than the time it takes to replace them.

Avoid this common mistake and you, your people and your business will reap the benefits sooner. 

Steven J. Krisfalusy is a serial entrepreneur who has decades of expertise in Business Growth, O.D. and People Development in a vast array of Industries, especially the small- to mid-range markets. Currently the Managing Partner / Sr. Consultant of the Beringer Group LLC. A People – Business – Technology Coaching -Consulting firm in the Midwest.
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