The Importance of Onboarding

I think most of us can remember a job in our past that involved little to no training. I don’t think there is a worse feeling than trying to figure out your job responsibilities on your own – and how you fit into the bigger picture. I had a similar feeling with my first job out of college and needless to say – I didn’t stay long. A structured and organized onboarding impacts employee retention, which is why my program idea involves standardizing and improving my department’s onboarding process. Over the summer, my office experienced a 50% turnover rate and the leadership team spent a majority of our workdays interviewing, reference checking, and onboarding new team members. When we went to look at previous onboarding processes, we found that there hadn’t been a structured process in the past. In fact, the little training that was given to previous new employees was not entirely relevant or accurate. It was quickly apparent this summer that our office desperately needed a standard onboarding training program.

In last week’s class, we discussed the importance of developing a needs assessment. Cafferella explained that an educational need is the “focal point for identifying ideas for education and training programs” (Cafferella, 2002, pg. 114). Organizational needs drive the program planning. My program idea is in direct response to a need within our department. However, a successful needs assessment involves asking the right people the right questions. My group discussion was particularly helpful in identifying who and what I should be asking in order to identify gaps and what we’ve done well. After last week’s class, I developed a Google form with 7 questions that I plan to send to 7 new advisors who participated in our August advisor orientation. I want thoughtful, reflective responses from each advisor, so I decided against an initial in-person interview. My office is also putting together a Training and Development committee, so I would like to use the committee meetings as another opportunity for in-person data collection. The two part process I think will invite learners to assist in the planning process. Cafferella argues that asking learners who have been involved in previous programs to reflect on what they have learned ensures people support (Cafferella, 2002, pg. 86). I also think getting as many people around the table helps to ensure all aspects of our program are covered.

I can’t tell you how excited  I am to break down each component of program planning in this class with the extra bonus of applying it to my job. I feel fortunate to learn from other experienced trainers in the class and look forward to positive results.

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