Evaluating Onboarding Processes by Elizabeth DiLuzio

Happy weekend! My name is Elizabeth DiLuzio, volunteer curator for AEA365. About a month ago, a friend and former colleague reached out with “some good news and some bad news”. The good news: she was recently promoted to Director of HR at her company. The bad news: she wanted some free consulting services. Her first project was to revamp their onboarding process for new hires and she was wondering what the best and most data-driven approach might be. It was music to my ears. How could I say no to a runway like that?

It took a few evenings of research and collaboration sessions for Julie and me to create her very own onboarding logic model. While I’m not at liberty to share it, here are some of the research highlights we uncovered that could help to direct your own work on the topic.

The IWG Framework

According to the IWG Framework, a framework designed for researching onboarding practices, onboarding tasks fall into one of three categories:

Inform (the sharing of information through one of three mediums:

  • Inform-Communication (one-way messages and two-way dialogues)
  • Inform-Resources (documents shared in a platform the staff member can access at any time)
  • Inform-Training (planned learning opportunities via videos, in-person sessions, shadowing, on-the-job training))

Welcome (providing opportunities to meet and socialize with co-workers, welcome kit, a welcome from senior leaders)

Guide (personalized activities to guide growth such as mentorship or assigned peer support) (1)

Onboarding Best Practices

A later work also co-authored by Howard J. Klein shares research findings about onboarding best practices. They share seven, summarized as follows:

1. Treat it like a process – onboarding should be planned over an extended period of time, typically a year, and should take into consideration the needs of the new hire and the organization at each milestone.

2. Use it to reinforce culture – for example, use the early days to communicate staff success stories and reinforce that they are now part of something bigger than themselves.

3. Make it a team effort – everyone has a role to play from senior leaders, human resources staff, managers, mentors, and colleagues.

4. Take advantage of technology – leverage available technology to accomplish more straightforward tasks such as tracking progress, social networking, paperwork completion, and asynchronous training delivery.

5. Give newcomers a sense of purpose – help them to feel like productive members of a team as quickly as possible.

6. Provide appropriate orientation training – customize the trainings to the new hire’s role, preferences, and learning styles.

7. Provide two-way feedback channels – provide opportunities to adjust behavior to meet the expectations of both the organization and the new hire. (2)

Rad Resource

Check out the Government of Saskatchewan’s Manager’s Guide to Orientation for New Employees for a concrete jumping off point for creating your own onboarding manual.

Anticipated Outcomes

There is no dearth of research around human resources practices, including onboarding. Most if not all the research I found, however, focused on for-profit businesses. While underlying principles may be the same (retain your employees and don’t go bankrupt), there is a whole host of value-laden and cultural considerations to onboarding in the world of government, education, non-profits, and other socially minded organizations. That said, some of the more common outcomes cited include profit growth, cost savings, and employee retention. (3)

Now it’s your turn

Have you evaluated onboarding processes before? Got any tips, tricks, or resources to share? Drop me a note in the comment section below or share with us in the Evaluators’ Slack Channel. I look forward to hearing from you!

(1) Klein, H. J., & Heuser, A. (2008). The learning of socialization content: A framework for researching orientating practices. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 27, 278±336.
(2) Klein, H. J., & Polin, B. (2012). Are organizations on board with best practices onboarding? In C. Wanberg (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Socialization. doi:10.1093/ oxfordhb/9780199763672.013.0014
(3) Bauer, T.N. (2013). Onboarding: The power of connection. SuccessFactors Inc. Retrieved on 20 August 2021 from https://aledelobelle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SuccessFactors-onboarding-power-of-connection.pdf.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

1 thought on “Evaluating Onboarding Processes by Elizabeth DiLuzio”

  1. Hello Elizabeth,

    My name is Robin, and I am currently enrolled in the Professional Master of Education (PME) Program at Queen’s University. I was introduced to the AEA365 website though a course I am taking this semester called Program Inquiry and Evaluation. Before starting this course, I had limited background knowledge in program evaluation. I am enjoying the learning journey, gaining valuable knowledge of key concepts, practical applications, and the dilemmas in evaluation use. I am incorporating this new knowledge in my professional context.

    Your article was of particular interest to me as the topic connects to my current role as an educational consultant in the field of adult education and vocational training. As an instructional coach and support to new teachers in health training programs, I am involved in all aspects of the onboarding process for new hires. In order to offer the highest quality support to new teachers; a small school-level task group has been formed to review our current onboarding procedures and make recommendations for future planning.

    As I was reading through your article, I felt relief that our local onboarding process follows some of the best practices you described. However, I also realize that there is work to be done. Your research summary and resources are enlightening and will be utilized in my school-level task group as they will inform and guide as we move forward uncovering the gaps with our current process. One gap in our current onboarding process relates to reinforcing culture, as you mention, “use it to reinforce culture – for example, use the early days to communicate staff success stories and reinforce that they are now part of something bigger than themselves”. I think one way of introducing and then reinforcing the idea of being “part of something bigger than themselves” is integrating new teachers using the organizational socialization model whereby organizational goals and values are clearly communicated and “uncertainty can be reduced by sharing stories and organizational history that communicate to the newcomer behaviors that are rewarded and valued by the organization, further integrating them into the organization” (Jimenez, 2020, p.16).

    Thank you for expanding my thinking of onboarding. You have provided a foundation for exploration, further inquiry, and research.

    Robin

    Reference:
    Jimenez, N. (2020). Utilizing onboarding practices to engage and retain employees in the K–12 setting. Vanderbilt University Institutional Repository.

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