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Onboarding: The new battleground for talent

All those old rules you’ve got written down on a piece of paper somewhere on how to recruit talent? The chances are they’re not worth the paper they’re written on. It’s time to tear up the old rule book and start again with learning technologies at the heart of your talent recruitment. Article by Liam O’Meara, Sponge UK.
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All those old rules you’ve got written down on a piece of paper somewhere on how to recruit talent? The chances are they’re not worth the paper they’re written on. It’s time to tear up the old rule book and start again with learning technologies at the heart of your talent recruitment. Article by Liam O’Meara, Sponge UK.

In Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey of more than 10,000 HR and business leaders in 140 countries, 83 percent said careers and learning was either important or very important. The figure was 81 percent for talent acquisition and 79 percent for employee experience. This placed them second, third and fourth in their list of top 10 most important issues.

This is an acknowledgement that in an age where there’s not enough talent to go around, businesses will be competing like never before to attract the most suitable people. The old fashioned way of comparing CVs and conducting job interviews over several days won’t work. Deloitte have titled their report ‘Rewriting the Rules for the Digital Age’ – and they’re right.

Further evidence that talent acquisition is giving CEOs sleepless nights in 2017 comes in a survey by PwC. In their study, 77 percent of senior leaders cited the retention of talent and the availability of skills as a top concern in their organisation.  When you look at the following stats, you can see why: A third of new hires make up their mind on staying with a business in the first week. (TLNT). And yet, inefficiencies in the onboarding process are costing UK companies £200 million per year (Webonboarding). High stakes, poor results! No wonder so many companies looking to improve talent retention rates are rethinking their entire approach to onboarding.

Leading organisations have already done it. The Deloitte report highlights how these employers have recognised that learning technologies are the key to keeping up and are successfully using them to acquire talent. As part of their talent management strategies to retain people, these organisations have also introduced a ‘culture of development’ – an ‘always learning’ approach that allows employees to grow on their own terms.  Top organisations are therefore more able to ‘hook’ talent before they enter the business, keep them engaged in their initial honeymoon period, and retain them into their first year of working. According to Deloitte, leading organisations are now utilising learning technologies to extend onboarding over several months, not several days.

Why the employee’s perspective is important
Guess what? It’s not all about you! What about your new recruits? What do they expect from onboarding in the digital age? Will they even want to join or stay with your company if they have an unsatisfactory onboarding experience that doesn’t meet their expectations?

Research tells us that talented, driven employees expect onboarding to be delivered – in part at the very least – digitally, using devices and tools they’re used to. They expect it to be engaging. And they want to make an immediate impact in contributing within their new role. To do that, they need effective pre-boarding and access to online training. If they don’t feel they’re being productive and making progress straight away, they won’s stick around.

Global leaders putting the theory into practice
Some of the biggest global brands have seen a world of difference in the effectiveness of their onboarding since introducing learning technologies. Here are a few examples:

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) used a simulation game to bring the work processes to life for new recruits. It was delivered to staff at locations across the world, providing a learning experience that was just like real life. They also learned how decisions in one part of the business impacted on other parts, giving them the ‘bigger picture’ experience that the brightest talent see as essential to their careers. The learning also inspired them right from the off about working for an innovative company.

Toyota’s pan-European induction programme used interactive video to immerse new starters in the car giant’s ‘Customer First’ business ethos. The video took the learners on a virtual tour of the customer journey so they could understand the customer experience from start to finish.

Optical and hearing company Specsavers use motion graphics, games & gamification and responsive elearning in a Global Online Induction pre-boarding programme for 5,000 new starters across 30 countries each year. The company wanted a consistent digital learning programme that could be accessed before Day 1. At the same time, they were looking at ways to excite new joiners about its brand and values. These are real life success stories from some of the biggest, most successful brands on the planet.

The really inspiring thing about technology is that it’s not only driving improvements, it’s actually likely to create more, not fewer jobs. PwC’s 20th CEO Survey shows that nearly 70 percent of the most confident CEOs are planning to increase the headcount in their organisations. And, as CEO at Sponge UK, Louise Pasterfield, points out: “Technology is central to their vision. Not as a mechanism to replace human expertise but to complement it, unlock its potential and gain a competitive advantage. Of course, the jobs people do will change as technology develops, and in future it will become increasingly important to help people acquire the new skills they will need to succeed in a changing workplace. The best CEOs already understand this. They are using technology to attract, train and retain people, with 65 percent adding digital learning to their corporate training programmes in 2017. Innovation in digital learning is paying off in all kinds of ways that collectively contributes to the bottom line and improved profitability.”

So the message is clear: To be ahead of the game you’ve got to win the onboarding battle. And to do that, you’ll need a new set of rules on what works in talent acquisition and management in the digital age.

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