Employee onboarding is broken. Sort of.

Today’s announcement of an $8 million raise by Enboarder to focus on experience seems like a great opportunity to pause and ponder what we’re doing right, and what needs fixing in the world of employee onboarding.

Do We Have An Experience Problem, Or a Talent Management Problem?

User experience is an important part of employee experience, but when it comes meeting employee expectations, onboarding might be the best example we have of how they can sometimes get confused. An employee that gets all of their expectations met during onboarding does not necessarily get what they truly need to flourish in their role or their career.

Employee onboarding is an untapped point in time where we can establish an employee’s trajectory, set a baseline for their career and personal motivators, and start to sync those data points with the attributes of employees performing and thriving in similar roles. If we want to close the loop between performance and recruiting and start to truly make the tie to retention, then the onboarding phase is the time to establish those linkages. If not, then the best we can really hope for is that the employee finds their way to their desk, meet the team, get their computer, accesses the LMS, selects their benefits, and knows the way to the restroom.

Integrating onboarding into messaging interfaces like Slack or WhatsApp, or making it mobile first and supported by machine learning and a friendly chatbot isn’t the solution – it’s what you do when you’re there that will be.

I Once Thought Onboarding Was Broken at Its Core

Until very recently, I was so confident in my beliefs about employee onboarding being broken at its core, that when I designed the section of the 2019 Workplace Intelligence Report survey focused on the subject, I was wringing my hands with anticipation to share the data with the world. “Look how broken even the most basic onboarding processes are!” It was going to be great. Then we ran the survey to 4,013 employees (76% U.S., 24% U.K) with a generational mix that mirrors current census data, and industry and departmental breakdowns that reflect the workforce.

It turns out we’re pretty good at the core onboarding process.

Here’s some data that should make you feel good. The two charts on the first page below deliver two vantage points on the employee’s experience and perspective through onboarding. The first chart shows you how employees feel their current experience as an employee aligns with the expectations set  through the interview and hiring process. While results vary slightly by industry, overall an overwhelming 87% of employees feel that their expectations for their experience have been met or exceeded. These results can also be viewed by industry.

The second chart shows how employees feel, what most would call, the “basics of onboarding” aligned with employee expectations. Once again, a very high percentage of employees feel their expectations have been met. Eighty to 90 percent across all onboarding steps we looked at felt their expectations were met or exceeded. Page 2 compares US and UK results.

So, take a look at the data and celebrate that things are getting better. Then, get back to work and let’s really fix onboarding – let’s make it an experience both employers and employees can learn from, not just remember.

Click in an industry in the report below to highlight its results and compare to the overall. You can enlarge the charts by clicking on “focus mode.”