Yesterday, a buddy told me that onboarding is about joining a new family.
She mentioned this in a side conversation in a class I was facilitating. The group was in the midst of working their way through identifying a process to improve, and prepping to present their findings to the class.
I chose to have the group work on the onboarding process because every employee was new at one point. Every employee was a part of the onboarding process, whether it was one year ago, ten, or many more. It’s a process everyone can identify with, no matter their role in the organization.
To paraphrase, she said:
Orientation is great and all, but eight hours of information doesn’t help when you are trying to find your place in a new family. Think about it, we spend five days a week with our new coworkers, sometimes more than our OWN families, and there is almost nothing out there to help us adjust to it.
It was a moment that will stick with me.
In HR, we tend to talk a big game about how incredibly important onboarding is, and all the tasks, systems, hacks and checklists that will help our new employees get up and running.
And this is TRUE. Onboarding is VERY important!
But really, it comes down to helping people find their place in a family that already has it’s own norms. It’s about helping that new employee settle into their role, not just in the organization and all of its guidelines, but within a family with unwritten expectations and habits.
Maybe it’s time we simplify our thinking when it comes to onboarding. Perhaps, it’s as simple as taking our processes apart, and ensuring that people are still at the center of those processes.
Perhaps the answer to our onboarding woes is as simple, and essential, as family.
Image credit: By Carissa Rogers - http://www.flickr.com/photos/goodncrazy/6104867657, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29163443