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March 15, 2018

Back in 2014, in the Deloitte 2014 Human Capital Trends Study, Josh Bersin, from a leading industry research and advisory firm in enterprise learning and talent management, described the “overwhelmed employee” as one struggling with “information overload” as a result of being “always connected in a 24/7 work environment”. As we head into 2018, the overwhelmed employee is still struggling to keep up. In Bersin’s recent report, HR Technology Disruptions for 2018: Productivity, Design, and Intelligence Reign, he highlights that the overwhelmed employee is still a major business issue. It’s now impacting worker productivity, which is almost flat in the United States at 1.4 percent as of January 2017.

How can onboarding practices help reduce worker stress?

Onboarding is the ideal time to create a comfortable work environment for new employees. Organizations can try to keep the stress level to a minimum by adopting the following strategies.

  • Role-based competencies and learning: New hires can easily turn into overwhelmed employees. With too much new information to absorb during the first few weeks, information overload takes the form of not knowing what to focus on. Assigning competencies and learning according to an individual’s role provides a path for success. The new hires know what to focus on during their early days. Beyond annual compliance training that all employees are mandated to do, a list of role-based competencies – with associated online learning and assessments – helps structure the new hire’s first month at the company.
  • Roadmap for the future: One reason people quit their jobs is “they don’t see opportunities for promotion or growth”. So, it’s a good idea to give new hires visibility into new opportunities and the competencies and skills required for new roles. Internal job postings are a good start. Internal opportunities based on achieved competencies and skills are even better. This way, information overload can be replaced with targeted and relevant information for the new hire.
  • Automated asset assignment and delivery: Onboarding solutions should be used to automate asset allocation to the new hires based on specific roles, job grades, locations, and organizations. Based on their work location, new hires must receive the right assets – such as access to the building or even the company gym. Based on their role, new employees should be provided access to technology tools. For instance, sales personnel need access to a CRM such as Salesforce or LinkedIn’s sales prospecting solution. Likewise, marketing hires need accounts with SEO tools such as Google Analytics or e-mail marketing solutions such as Marketo.
  • Mentoring is good. Going beyond peer mentoring is even better: Assigning a peer for mentoring is a common and useful step in the onboarding process. A mentoring relationship can help a new hire focus and lower the chances of becoming overwhelmed. While most senior leaders stress the importance of onboarding – up to 96% see the value in having well-defined onboarding strategies – studies show that less than 20% are active participants in the onboarding process. Senior executives can give a focused view of an organization’s goals and help guide an overwhelmed new hire on how to make an impact. Intel, one of the world’s largest chipmakers, takes a unique approach. They match new hires with mentors based on skills that are in high demand. This helps pass information down from company experts to the new hire population.

Is Digital the way to effective onboarding?

The above strategies can be effectively implemented by automating HR onboarding processes and going digital. Modern cloud based talent management solutions offer role-based competency modules that map roles to competencies and learning activities considering the complexities and guesswork in choosing courses. Using intelligent engines and asset matrices, such solutions could automatically assign assets to the new hires based on the role, location, and access level.

Information overload and the world of hyper-connectivity are not likely to go away for global workers. Overwhelmed employees will only face more pressure from robots and automation of their jobs. However, onboarding provides a unique opportunity to align workers with job requirements and the organization’s mission towards better employee experience.

If you have any interesting onboarding strategy or experience to share, please do so in the comments section.

Eric Miller is a Senior Pre-Sales Solution Consultant in the CHROMA™ - Platform Solutions Unit at TCS. He has over 11 years of experience with Human Capital Management (HCM) software solutions with a focus on talent acquisition, recruiting, onboarding, learning, performance, career management, succession planning, and compensation. During this time he has worked with industry leaders including Oracle, SumTotal, and NetDimensions (acquired by Learning Technologies Group plc). He holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources® (SPHR®) certification and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest HR professional society. He holds a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).


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