Inboarding, the forgotten brother of onboarding

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Many organizations have embraced the importance of onboarding. With a proper onboarding process, employees feel welcomed and supported in their new job. However, when employees change positions, get promoted or move to a different location, they usually don’t get the same type of support. Why is this? They’re still in a new environment, with new colleagues, and new challenges. This is where second onboarding, or inboarding, comes in to play. In today’s article, we’ll outline what inboarding is, why it’s necessary and how your organization can embrace it.

What is inboarding?

Inboarding is an ongoing process that helps established employees acquire the knowledge, skills, processes, and training they need to succeed within an organization. Its definition is similar to onboarding, except it focuses on established employees rather than new hires. Its main purpose is to increase time-to-productivity, improve engagement and increase retention.

Inboarding is especially important when your company culture is evolving, or when it differs depending on location, job profile, and team composition. Employees switching from IT to sales, for instance, may need to adjust to a big change in culture. Or think about employees moving from an office in the United States to an office in Japan. The culture shock will most likely not only be visible outside the office but also inside the workplace.

Inboarding also is important when a job requires new skills from an employee that he or she may not necessarily have yet. When an employee is promoted to his first management position, they will most likely need to learn about effectively delegating tasks. A proper inboarding program can help them get settled and improve their productivity.

An inboarding program that delivers in all the right ways will accomplish these goals:

  • Reduces time-to-productivity
  • Reduces turnover
  • Improves cohesion
  • Improves engagement
  • Reduces stress
  • Develops job knowledge

Why should we care about inboarding?

It has been a growing trend for years that employees do not stay at their organizations for long periods of time. Today, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times during his or her career. Especially in today’s booming economy, employees have multiple opportunities to switch to other jobs. After all, the grass is always greener on the other side.

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This growing trend is worrisome for organizations, as losing key employees can be extremely costly. The process of recruiting new talent is a significant expense for organizations. You have to find the talent, attract them and get them up to speed through training. Every time an employee leaves you have to start this process all over again. Not to mention the loss of productivity in losing a key member of a team, which can have a trickle-down effect on multiple affected teams. It’s no wonder employee retention is one of the key metrics for the success of organizations.

Onboarding has a big influence on retention. Up to 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days. 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company if they experienced a great onboarding.

Many managers assume that since a promoted employee already knows the organization, he or she doesn’t need as much guidance. They forget, however, that those first 45-90 days are just as critical for internal hires as they are for new employees. This is where a proper inboarding program can have a significant effect on your turnover rate.

Having a good inboarding process can thus save your company thousands, if not millions of dollars. This is achieved through a mix of reduced turnover, increased engagement, and productivity.

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The five steps involved to develop and promote inboarding

There are multiple ways to develop and promote inboarding within your organization. Below are the steps involved in making this organizational change:

  1. Remove organizational barriers:
    Rigid job role descriptions and isolated departments don’t exist at organizations that are good at inboarding. Projects should not be given to individual departments, but to interested employees. This allows for multiple opportunities of growth, the creation of new connections, and normalizes internal job switches.
  2. Improve team cohesion:
    Social connections are key to successful inboarding. Make sure you have plenty of ways to promote team cohesion. Think of activities like after-hours drinks, birthday celebrations, and others get-togethers. This is not only fun but has a practical use as well. Employees who are incorporated in team activities will inboard faster, are more loyal, and have increased engagement.
  3. Think ‘Inside First’:
    Often, managers immediately jump to a recruitment agency when they want to strengthen their team. Make sure that your managers think of the potential within their own organization first. You can do this through the development of an internal recruitment system that stimulates internal mobility, including career coaches. When internal movement becomes part of the company culture, inboarding will become more natural.
  4. Feedback and recognition
    Inboarding doesn’t end when a colleague attains a new position within the organization. Managers often think: “I was swamped, then I promoted “Ben”, and now I can turn my attention to other priorities.” Make sure you let managers know that, just because an employee isn’t new to an organization or team, they still require a lot of feedback for their new position. Put in regular formal and informal performance evaluations to give feedback and to let the employee know how he or she does in their new position.
  5. Training
    Internal hires usually have a set of skills that make them great for the new position that they’re in, but they often require training nonetheless. This is due to the fact that the position usually comes with new challenges, which the employee may or may not be prepared for. Give employees the training they need to excel in their new position and it will pay itself off – and don’t assume that because they know the company already, they also know the job.

Time to embrace inboarding

All businesses are different, but a good inboarding program can help most organizations with their productivity and retention rates. Hopefully, this article has given you a helpful overview of the characteristics of inboarding and the reasons why it shouldn’t be the forgotten little brother of onboarding.

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