Developing and Rolling Out an Onboarding Training Program For New Hires - A Case Study By Gina Abudi
(Ed. It's rare to find a little mini-field research in the field of training that actually does some terminal evaluation of success, so you may find this interesting if you are in Human Resources, or involved in the orienting of employees just hired. The article walks you through the context of how the company determined what kind of training it needed to bring new hires up to speed, and how they evaluated.)
Global Financial Services Company Overview
A global financial services company frequently hired individuals in a business analyst role directly out of college with their bachelor degrees in various management and liberal studies. On an annual basis the company hires approximately 100 - 150 new college graduates each year in a business analyst role worldwide. In many cases, these individuals have no prior experience working in an organization. Data collected from the business showed the human resources department that approximately 35% of the new hires each year did not stay with the company more than 2 - 3 years.
This meant that for every 100 - 150 new hires, the company lost 35 - 52.5 employees each year. A survey done of employees who had left the organization over the past 5 years showed the following reasons for leaving the organization within the first 3 years:
- Lack of support from immediate supervisor
- Stress associated with trying to learn the job in a short time frame
- Lack of understanding around job expectations
- Lack of understanding about the company structure
- No formal career path for them - felt "stuck" in their job
- Lack of communication among all business analysts - feeling alone
The HR department approached the executives of the global financial services company and discussed the results of their survey. HR proposed an onboarding training program for all newly hired college graduates that would help get the new hires up to speed quicker and provide them the support they needed within their new roles. HR also believed that they would be able to improve the retention rate by implementing an onboarding program. The executives approved their plan and provided them the resources they needed to develop an onboarding program in time for the next group of new hires who would start on July 1.
Development of the Onboarding ProgramPlanning the Program
The HR department gathered managers from throughout the company to discuss the need for an onboarding program. The following questions were asked of the managers and their responses (summarized) are shown.
Question: What are the responsibilities of newly hired Business Analysts:
- Gathering and analyzing data
- Report writing
- Support for project teams working on client status reports
Question: What challenges do the new hires face in their role as Business Analysts?
- Understanding of the company - how it works, different divisions, etc.
- Not business savvy
- Understanding what is expected of them
- Learning their way around the organization
Question: What are the attributes/skills of new hires that have been successful in the role?
- Able to influence others throughout the company
- Strong team leadership skills
- Creative problem solver
- Able to make decisions with minimal support - do not need to be micromanaged
- Strong communication skills
- Hard workers - willing to do what is needed to get the job done
- Motivated individuals
- Customer service focused
- Flexible - able to "go with the flow"
Question: Why have new hires failed - what were they lacking?
- Required too much "hand holding"
- Lack of effectiveness in dealing with others
- Lack of business maturity
- Didn't seem to "get it" - meaning they had to be told too many times how to do something
- Lack of ability to work effectively in a team - preferred working alone
- Poor time management skills
Question: What skills do Business Analysts need to be successful?
- Problem solving
- Business and report writing
- Team skills
- Strong customer focus
- Presentation skills
The HR department then gathered together 25 Business Analysts (hired within the past 1 - 2 years) from throughout the company to find out what they believed they needed in order to be success in their job. They learned the following:
- A better introduction to the workings of the company - including an organization chart so they understand the structure.
- The ability to job shadow another Business Analyst before jumping into the role
- A mentor
- More understanding from the individuals they work with and support around the fact that they are just out of college and still need to learn the ropes
- Less oversight and micro managing and more of a focus on giving them the tools and support they need to do their job
- The ability for all of the Business Analysts to share information with each other and stay in communication with each other - so they can help and support each other in the role
- A career path - the chance to grow with the company
Based on the information they gathered, the HR department determined that a 5 week training program combined with a formal mentoring program would provide the newly hired Business Analysts the skills and information needed to be effective in their role. Additionally, in order to ensure they had the opportunity to stay in touch with each other and could share information, they asked the IT department to develop a portal for the business analysts.
Additionally, they would work to develop a formal career path for individuals who started as Business Analysts at the company.
The Onboarding Program
The onboarding program would be 5 weeks in length and would take place on day one - before the new hire even started in his/her role as a Business Analyst. The program included:
- A "kick off" by a few of the executives to include an overview of the company: history, locations, strategic goals, organization chart
- Information by HR on benefits, vacation, holidays, etc.
- 1 - 2 day courses on:
- Problem solving and decision making
- Communication and presentation
- Negotiating and influencing others
- Team leadership
- Writing workshop
- Time management
As part of the program, each new hire took the MBTI (Myers-Briggs) to determine their personality type. This was a great tool to introduce them to each other and help them get to understand themselves and how they work with others.
The new hires worked in teams on a real-world project. In this way, they would be able to apply their skills as a Business Analyst in a safe environment. The hope was that this would make them more comfortable when they actually started their job.
Additionally, each participant developed an action plan on what they hoped to accomplish their first three months on the job.
Throughout the 5 weeks, new hires heard from many others in the company including other Business Analysts, the executives, management, and other employees. There were numerous presentations and panel discussions about working at the company. New hires had the opportunity to learn about the challenges others faced and how they addressed those challenges. Mentoring Program
Mentoring was a component of the onboarding program. After the first week each new hire was assigned a mentor - a Business Analyst who had been with the company for at least 3 years. The mentors took their mentees to lunch so that they could get to know each other. Throughout the balance of the onboarding program the mentors helped their mentees in a variety of ways, including:
- Answering questions/addressing concerns
- Assisting with their team project
- Checking in with them regularly to see how things are going
A portal was developed for use by the new hires and also by all Business Analysts company-wide. The portal included tools and templates, the ability to collaborate to solve problems and share information, best practices/processes, documentation and sample works, and a list of company-wide resources. The portal was a great way for the Business Analysts to keep in touch with the peers company-wide. Results of Pilot Program Surveys. Below are the initial pilot program survey results. These are high level summaries of the results only.
Level 1 - 2 survey completed by participants immediately after the program ended:
- 98% responded that they were "very satisfied" with the program
- 2% responded that they were "satisfied" with the program"
- 90% responded that the program was "very effective" at helping them to learn new skills and knowledge
- 10% responded that the program was "effective"
- 95% felt "very confident" in their ability to be effective on the job
- 5% felt "confident" in their ability to be effective on the job
- 100% "agreed" that on-the-job application of each objective in the courses was discussed during the training program
- 100% felt "great benefit" was added by the panel discussions and presentations by other company employees and executives
Level 3 survey completed by participants after 3 months on the job:
- Participants responded that 88% - 98% of their total work time required the skills and knowledge presented in the program
- 80% agreed that they made "significant progress" in their action plans
- 15% agreed that they made "good progress" in their action plans
- 5% agreed that they made "some progress" in their action plans
- 100% were "very satisfied" with the mentors and the mentoring program
- 100% were active participants in the portal - sharing information, best practices, keeping in touch with other Business Analysts, etc.
Survey completed by managers and mentors after the participants had been on the job for 3 months:
- 82% believed that the 5 week training program and mentoring program had a "significant influence" on the following measures: productivity, quality, efficiency, time, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction
- 18% believed that it had "some influence"
- Overall, respondents felt that the training program is an "excellent investment" in time, money and resources and is of "great value" to the organization
Summary and Next Steps
Based on the survey results and follow up in another 6 months, the executives determined that the onboarding program was a success overall and should be continued. Adjustments were made to the program as the company continued to grow and expand, including adding an additional course on understanding and working with cultural differences. The panel discussions and presentations would also include individuals from around the globe.
At 3 years, data was collected on the retention rate of the first group to go through the program. It showed that the retention increased from 65% to 82%. After 5 years, the retention increased for this group to 96%. Additionally, the HR department saw an increase in promotions after 5 years on the job as a Business Analyst to roles such as manager/supervisor and team lead.
T he company used components of the program for individuals who were promoted into new roles within the organization to get them up-to-speed as quickly as possible. All individuals who were promoted attended a 1 week training program and assignment of a mentor to help individuals be as effective and efficient in the shortest time possible.
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