Onboarding: Even the President Does It

We are currently inundated with analyses and forecasts on how the new President-Elect could change benefits administration public policy and employment law. However, in the midst of these regulatory evaluations, we are overlooking a significant human resources transition taking place between Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

According to a recent article in the Hill (referencing a Wall Street Journal post), President Obama and President-Elect Trump will meet frequently during the next month to make a smooth transition between administrations. The 44th President will relay to the 45th President the ins-and-outs of the Oval Office, including White House staff selection procedures, diplomacy traditions, and general tips for a successful first 100 days in office. In other words, Obama will be onboarding Trump.

Photo from ABC News/Associated Press
Photo from ABC News/Associated Press

Sure, the onboarding of the next President of the United States is tremendously different than orienting a new manufacturing hire to his or her station on the assembly line. But the purpose is the same – a good onboarding process will ensure that the new hire effectively integrates into the organization’s work culture. This results in increased long-term performance and a lower chance for failure.

According to a 2010 report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), half of all hourly workers leave new jobs within the first four months, and half of senior-level new hires don’t make it more than 18 months. Most of these failures are due to a lack of sufficient onboarding programs. Most organizations have orientations and training manuals, but not all companies deeply consider how they are onboarding their new hires beyond a superficial, job-based welcome.

Think about what your organization calls its onboarding program. What methods do you use that go above and beyond a traditional orientation plan? Do you have a plan to support a new employee’s needs aside from simple task-focused materials? Are there procedures in place to evaluate how well your new hires are fitting into your company culture? What programs are in place to help catch failing employees as they head towards becoming another turnover statistic? Can you even identify those employees who are thinking about leaving? Is there a long-term support system in place to address employee needs?

You have spent enough time and money recruiting new employees. You can afford to spend a little more on onboarding programs and ensure that those resources don’t go to waste. Consider whether your organization truly integrates new employees into its work culture, and ask yourself what can be done to support new hires beyond simple orientation programs.

From the most powerful position in the land down to the most basic of jobs, effective onboarding can make anyone a more successful (and thereby valuable) asset to their organizations.

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