I’ve written before about the importance of an intentional onboarding and orientation process for new church staff. In this article we share the three common elements that new employees want in an onboarding experience, according to research by the Gallup Organization.
The onboarding process is about fulfilling the promises you made during the recruitment process as well as preparing the new employee to be effective in their job duties. A well-conceived and executed onboarding process will leave the new hire feeling a sense of belonging, understanding expectations, and having a sense of what it takes to be successful in their new position.
Unfortunately, according to Gallup analytics, nearly one in five employees across all vocations either report that their most recent onboarding was poor — or that they received no onboarding at all. Gallup surveys also show that to get exceptional employee results, you need an exceptional onboarding process. Even with this evidence, onboarding is inconsistent or non-existent in most churches. And now there is the added challenge of onboarding remote workers and helping them integrate with the church staff team.
In their surveys Gallup asked employees to describe the most valuable aspect of their most recent onboarding experience. Employees shared a variety of answers, but three common themes emerged: people, learning and processes.
The Three Common Elements
1. The People Element: They want meaningful relationships. For the majority of employees, the most valuable aspect of their onboarding experience was the people element, such as meeting people, forming social connections with fellow employees and learning from their supervisor and colleagues. Regardless of their position on the org chart, new employees want relationships that make them feel supported, welcomed, understood, cared for, included and respected. They want candid feedback from their supervisors, to meet lots of people across departments, to be able to ask questions and to receive mentoring from fellow colleagues.
2. The Learning Element: They want to know where they can contribute. Gallup’s surveys show that many employees consider learning to be the most valuable aspect of their onboarding experience. Most especially they crave to learn how to excel in their new job. The learning they want goes beyond knowing about computer software and what the Personnel Manual says, the most fundamental learning they desire is understanding the organization’s mission, vision, and values. And, most importantly, new employees want to understand the nuances and norms of the work culture that includes “how we do things around here.” Gallup’s research shows that the immediate supervisor/manger is the most critical person to this type of learning. When the supervisor/manager takes an active role in onboarding, employees are 3.4 times as likely to feel like their onboarding process was successful.
3. The Processes Element: They want an onboarding process that’s intuitive and easy. Gallup’s analytics shows that for many employees, a valuable aspect of their onboarding experience was how it was organized and delivered. New employees want a well-defined and easily understood onboarding structure and provided at a pace of learning that allows them to comprehend and retain the information provided. For example, some employees want a highly structured and linear onboarding experience. For other employees, a flexible, and non-linear process is ideal. Understanding the preferences of the new employee allows supervisors/managers to tailor the onboarding program to meet the new employees’ needs and to understand the unique demands of their particular job. In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all.
In Gallup’s experience, there are several strategies that can help supervisors/managers create a holistic onboarding experience that includes the people, learning and process elements. In next week’s post we will take a look at these practical tips.
Posted on January 25, 2022