Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… We’ve all heard the next line in this famous poem by Robert Frost, but what you may not realize is how it could potentially relate to your employee onboarding program. While there are many different paths you can take when developing an onboarding program, the path you choose will influence whether a new employee stays with the company or starts searching for a new job soon after they start. Recent research from the Gallup® organization tells us that only 12 percent of employees in the United States thought their company had a good onboarding program. Moreover, Gallup® also noted that the increase in remote work was leading to less than adequate onboarding experiences for employees. The time for a change in your onboarding process is now. Throughout the onboarding process, your credit union could reach dozens of “roads” that can be taken. And while every credit union’s onboarding program won’t be the same, there are several components that should be included in any dynamic and engaging onboarding program.
The first component to consider occurs before an employee even applies for a position: the first impression. When it comes to the first impression a potential employee has of your company, you only get one chance. Employers are not in the hiring “driver’s seat” right now. A quick Google search can bring up a variety of potential positions with varying pay levels, which is why your credit union’s website needs to be dynamic and clearly answer the question, “Why do I want to work here?” Make sure your job postings are easily found and your site is mobile friendly. Potential candidates should also be able to easily find your credit union’s values and mission statement, and pictures of existing employees, offices and member interactions help to paint a picture of an engaged workplace. Credit unions have a great “leg up” on other companies because of our people helping people philosophy! Use that advantage and make sure your website showcases your community involvement, your employee benefits and how your credit union is different from other financial institutions, especially for-profit institutions! First impressions continue even after a new employee accepts the position.
The time period between when a candidate accepts a position and actually starts day one is critical. It’s imperative to keep your potential employee engaged at this point in the process. You can do that by sending them welcome letters in the mail or having their supervisor send them a welcome email. You can also send a welcome kit that includes a personalized letter, credit union logo swag and other information that could help them prepare for their first day.
Speaking of their first day… this is the part in the process where it is time to roll out the red carpet. If the position is in-person, make sure their desk is set up with everything they need for their first day, be available to answer their questions and genuinely welcome them to the company. If the position is virtual, make sure they have the equipment and software they need, as well as any passwords or login information. Make time to connect with them virtually and introduce them to the team. For virtual positions, it’s hard to over communicate. Plan plenty of check-ins and know they all don’t have to be work related! The last thing you want is for your new employee to be sitting in front of their computer thinking “now what should I do?” Provide them with directions and a schedule for the day, and make sure their supervisor stays in communication with them. Making a good first impression is an important component in the onboarding process, but it is not the only component.
The second component is a formal training plan and a guide. It can be convenient to take the easy road here and “drop” the new employee off with someone else. However, taking the road less traveled may look a little more like expanding on their job description, explaining how their training will happen, giving them a designated person to go to for questions and providing them clear specific goals as a way for them to know if they are succeeding in their new position. It also includes important information such as the history of the Credit Union Movement, the philosophy and values of credit unions, products your credit union provides and security practices in place for your credit union.
A formal training plan, which should include on-the-job training, is an important piece to the onboarding puzzle. This will not only ensure your new employee learns all the tasks and concepts that are critical for success in the job, but also that training is consistent from one trainee to the next. On-the-job training should include training on the equipment and software they’ll be using, as well as on how to find files they may need in their day-to-day work. Explaining this training process to the new employee will help them prepare for how their next few weeks or months will go. During the training process, it is important to set goals for the new employee for their first 90 days because it will help them and their manager gauge the employee’s progress.
Even though on-the job training will be a big part of the training process at this time, communication is still vital between the new employee and their manager. Make sure the manager schedules regular check-ins with the new employee and begins them as soon as possible. In these check-ins, the manager should cover performance, vision and values, expectations and motivations as well as any topics that are important to the new employee. The manager and new employee should also have monthly one-on-one meetings scheduled. These regular, extended check-ins allow the manager to ensure the employee is set up for success and gives the manager the opportunity to build a strong relationship with the new employee.
At this point, you may be thinking this is where the onboarding process ends. After all, your new employee has been hired, made to feel welcomed, trained and with the company for about 90 days. But did you know that during their first six months, new employees are still deciding whether to stay and be a part of your company or search for other job opportunities? It’s true! New employees are still vulnerable to leaving at this point in the process, so if you really are looking to take the road less traveled, keeping reading!
The third component of a successful onboarding program is centered around goal setting and engagement. Now is the time when the rubber meets the road. The new employee understands their position and how they fit into it but keeping them engaged is vital. The key to continuously encourage engagement is to provide opportunities for the employee to add to their skills while also providing adequate feedback, which is why formal one-on-one meetings are critical at this point. During these meeting, the employee and their manager should discuss performance, needs, feedback and goals. This discussion should lead to goals that will help the new employee increase their skill level as well as opportunities to overcome any challenges so that they meet in an area where creativity and productivity thrive. Something to watch out for here is the manager’s engagement. Managers need encouragement too! Continued support for managers who choose the road less traveled is important because it is not the easy road or the short road! Make sure the manager has all they need to create a valuable and memorable experience for the new employee because it is a long road for both the new employee and manager to travel together.
The ending of Frost’s poem is almost as well known as the beginning. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference. While onboarding may not be as cut and dry as Frost’s two roads, it can be boiled down to two paths: spending the extra time and resources to create an engaging and well-developed onboarding program or saving time and resources by creating a shorter, more general onboarding program. Whichever your credit union chooses, may just make all the difference.
If you would like to learn more about onboarding and how to create a dynamic and engaging onboarding program, be sure to register for the upcoming Onboarding in a Box Webinar Series! In this three-part webinar series, I will provide you with essential information and resources for every stage of the onboarding process! Go to our Upcoming Webinars page to register today!
Jeanne Heath is the learning and engagement champion for Vizo Financial Corporate Credit Union. Ms. Heath has spent the bulk of her career conducting training within the financial services industry with a strong focus on technical and change management training during mergers and acquisitions. Jeanne has developed and implemented a dynamic onboarding program which immediately immersed new employees into the company culture of “positively impacting people’s lives” through an atmosphere of high performance, high accountability and high care. She is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and has earned her Credit Union Development Education (CUDE) designation.