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Onboarding Is The Holy Grail Of Employee Retention, Engagement, And Productivity

Doug Coull

How does effective onboarding relate to retention, engagement, and customer satisfaction? Simply put, in every way.

Onboarding is a widely misunderstood practice. Some companies believe it’s a handshake on Day One, with a pile of papers for the new hire to complete. In actuality, great onboarding begins at the first touchpoint in the relationship. This means the first time the company representative engages with a job candidate, the onboarding begins. Further, should this touchpoint result in a hire, it should carry through to the first day of employment and all the way through the employee’s tenure.

Onboarding is not brain surgery

I read many horror stories about how job candidates and employees alike are treated like commodities rather than contributors. This mistreatment stems from the apathy and disregard many experience when starting a new job. Lack of communication and the feeling of being lost among a crowd of other disregarded co-workers are commonly heard remarks. Without a connection to help employees feel part of the organization, disengagement often results in a lack of productivity because employees don’t understand how their role contributes to the company’s mission, vision, and values.

According to researchers at the Abderdeen Group, 62 percent of companies that have a solidified onboarding program experience faster time-to-productivity, with 54 percent claiming to have better employee engagement.   These stats make it clear that it is counterproductive for companies to forego having an onboarding program. Yet many do not.

We don’t know where to start

For leaders to fully appreciate the value of an onboarding program, they first need to understand what they’re missing. An analysis of relevant employment data is a good start. Tracking the following metrics is advisable for businesses of all sizes:

  • time-to-hire
  • time-to-productivity
  • client retention
  • referrals
  • contributions to problem solving
  • synergy with co-workers
  • promotability, and
  • tenure

In today’s business world, there’s no excuse to not track this type of employee data. There is no shortage of systems that enable organizations to track and review the numbers at regular intervals, so there’s really no excuse not to do so. But here’s where the tough part comes into play. Once you have the data, how do you interpret it, and what should be done?

  • First, you need to decide what you want to accomplish. Decide on what success and failure will look like; this helps steer the understanding of the data and guide your action.
  • Second, organize and formalize when you’ll review and interpret the data. Incorporate user-friendly technology that allows easy input or seamless conveyance of the metrics. If you plan to use a manual input methodology, be warned, this may lend itself to human error or worse, lack of compliance to follow through on the input.
  • Third, be consistent. Set a schedule for when you’ll review the data and stick to it.
  • Fourth, have a plan of action on how to adjust for changes. The data may not present the results you wish to see. You’ll need to be prepared for this by having a plan-of-action to achieve what goals your organization wants. For example, initiating short, informal performance reviews more often during the first year to maintain open lines of communication can make a significant difference in retention and employee engagement. Conversely, the results may come in favorably, so be prepared to capitalize on that information and take it to the next level.
  • Fifth, be patient. It takes time to gather significant data and more time to look for noteworthy trends.

So what’s really in it for the company?

In a word, everything. Take customer service, for example. Companies with unproductive customer representatives inevitably lose market share due to decreased customer loyalty and/or a bad reputation. According to Gallup, when employees are engaged, they will be more productive and more likely to experience good relations with customers.

This behavior can be supported by getting off on the right foot with new employees. Set the stage for how their customer involvement is pivotal to the company. Ensure all employees understand the mission, vision, and values of the organization and are able to convey this sentiment to customers (by the way, customers should also be onboarded). The same factors are in play regardless of the industry or occupation. Keep the lines of communication open and keep “recruiting” your employees to show them how they are valued and always strive to align personal goals with the company’s. Adding these simple communications and tactics can make all the difference in both employee and customer retention and satisfaction.

Knowing that great onboarding leads to a more productive and engaged employee, which in turn creates happier and more productive workers, should be an established initiative for all companies. Unfortunately, there are still too many organizations that have not adopted this train of thought, even though the research and even common sense supports it.

It really comes down to this: Everyone wants to feel valued.

For more insight about onboarding, see Why Take Onboarding Digital? 3 Benefits You Need To Know About.

The post, Onboarding Is The Holy Grail Of Employee Retention, Engagement and Productivity, appeared first on TalentCulture.

Image credit: Gratisography

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How To Design Your Company’s Digital Transformation

Sam Yen

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review features a cover story on design thinking’s coming of age. We have been applying design thinking within SAP for the past 10 years, and I’ve witnessed the growth of this human-centered approach to innovation first hand.

Design thinking is, as the HBR piece points out, “the best tool we have for … developing a responsive, flexible organizational culture.”

This means businesses are doing more to learn about their customers by interacting directly with them. We’re seeing this change in our work on d.forum — a community of design thinking champions and “disruptors” from across industries.

Meanwhile, technology is making it possible to know exponentially more about a customer. Businesses can now make increasingly accurate predictions about customers’ needs well into the future. The businesses best able to access and pull insights from this growing volume of data will win. That requires a fundamental change for our own industry; it necessitates a digital transformation.

So, how do we design this digital transformation?

It starts with the customer and an application of design thinking throughout an organization – blending business, technology and human values to generate innovation. Business is already incorporating design thinking, as the HBR cover story shows. We in technology need to do the same.

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Design thinking plays an important role because it helps articulate what the end customer’s experience is going to be like. It helps focus all aspects of the business on understanding and articulating that future experience.

Once an organization is able to do that, the insights from that consumer experience need to be drawn down into the business, with the central question becoming: What does this future customer experience mean for us as an organization? What barriers do we need to remove? Do we need to organize ourselves differently? Does our process need to change – if it does, how? What kind of new technology do we need?

Then an organization must look carefully at roles within itself. What does this knowledge of the end customer’s future experience mean for an individual in human resources, for example, or finance? Those roles can then be viewed as end experiences unto themselves, with organizations applying design thinking to learn about the needs inherent to those roles. They can then change roles to better meet the end customer’s future needs. This end customer-centered approach is what drives change.

This also means design thinking is more important than ever for IT organizations.

We, in the IT industry, have been charged with being responsive to business, using technology to solve the problems business presents. Unfortunately, business sometimes views IT as the organization keeping the lights on. If we make the analogy of a store: business is responsible for the front office, focused on growing the business where consumers directly interact with products and marketing; while the perception is that IT focuses on the back office, keeping servers running and the distribution system humming. The key is to have business and IT align to meet the needs of the front office together.

Remember what I said about the growing availability of consumer data? The business best able to access and learn from that data will win. Those of us in IT organizations have the technology to make that win possible, but the way we are seen and our very nature needs to change if we want to remain relevant to business and participate in crafting the winning strategy.

We need to become more front office and less back office, proving to business that we are innovation partners in technology.

This means, in order to communicate with businesses today, we need to take a design thinking approach. We in IT need to show we have an understanding of the end consumer’s needs and experience, and we must align that knowledge and understanding with technological solutions. When this works — when the front office and back office come together in this way — it can lead to solutions that a company could otherwise never have realized.

There’s different qualities, of course, between front office and back office requirements. The back office is the foundation of a company and requires robustness, stability, and reliability. The front office, on the other hand, moves much more quickly. It is always changing with new product offerings and marketing campaigns. Technology must also show agility, flexibility, and speed. The business needs both functions to survive. This is a challenge for IT organizations, but it is not an impossible shift for us to make.

Here’s the breakdown of our challenge.

1. We need to better understand the real needs of the business.

This means learning more about the experience and needs of the end customer and then translating that information into technological solutions.

2. We need to be involved in more of the strategic discussions of the business.

Use the regular invitations to meetings with business as an opportunity to surface the deeper learning about the end consumer and the technology solutions that business may otherwise not know to ask for or how to implement.

The IT industry overall may not have a track record of operating in this way, but if we are not involved in the strategic direction of companies and shedding light on the future path, we risk not being considered innovation partners for the business.

We must collaborate with business, understand the strategic direction and highlight the technical challenges and opportunities. When we do, IT will become a hybrid organization – able to maintain the back office while capitalizing on the front office’s growing technical needs. We will highlight solutions that business could otherwise have missed, ushering in a digital transformation.

Digital transformation goes beyond just technology; it requires a mindset. See What It Really Means To Be A Digital Organization.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Top image via Shutterstock

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Sam Yen

About Sam Yen

Sam Yen is the Chief Design Officer for SAP and the Managing Director of SAP Labs Silicon Valley. He is focused on driving a renewed commitment to design and user experience at SAP. Under his leadership, SAP further strengthens its mission of listening to customers´ needs leading to tangible results, including SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas and SAP´s UX design services.

How Productive Could You Be With 45 Minutes More Per Day?

Michael Rander

Chances are that you are already feeling your fair share of organizational complexity when navigating your current company, but have you ever considered just how much time is spent across all companies on managing complexity? According to a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the global impact of complexity is mind-blowing – and not in a good way.

The study revealed that 38% of respondents spent 16%-25% of their time just dealing with organizational complexity, and 17% spent a staggering 26%-50% of their time doing so. To put that into more concrete numbers, in the US alone, if executives could cut their time spent managing complexity in half, an estimated 8.6 million hours could be saved a week. That corresponds to 45 minutes per executive per day.

The potential productivity impact of every executive having 45 minutes more to work every single day is clearly significant, and considering that 55% say that their organization is either very or extremely complex, why are we then not making the reduction of complexity one or our top of mind issues?

The problem is that identifying the sources of complexity is complex in of itself. Key sources of complexity include organizational size, executive priorities, pace of innovation, decision-making processes, vastly increasing amounts of data to manage, organizational structures, and the pure culture of the company. As a consequence, answers are not universal by any means.

That being said, the negative productivity impact of complexity, regardless of the specific source, is felt similarly across a very large segment of the respondents, with 55% stating that complexity has taken a direct toll on profitability over the past three years.  This is such a serious problem that 8% of respondents actually slowed down their company growth in order to deal with complexity.

So, if complexity oftentimes impacts productivity and subsequently profitability, what are some of the more successful initiatives that companies are taking to combat these effects? Among the answers from the EIU survey, the following were highlighted among the most likely initiatives to reduce complexity and ultimately increase productivity:

  • Making it a company-wide goal to reduce complexity means that the executive level has to live and breathe simplification in order for the rest of the organization to get behind it. Changing behaviors across the organization requires strong leadership, commitment, and change management, and these initiatives ultimately lead to improved decision-making processes, which was reported by respondents as the top benefit of reducing complexity. From a leadership perspective this also requires setting appropriate metrics for measuring outcomes, and for metrics, productivity and efficiency were by far the most popular choices amongst respondents though strangely collaboration related metrics where not ranking high in spite of collaboration being a high level priority.
  • Promoting a culture of collaboration means enabling employees and management alike to collaborate not only within their teams but also across the organization, with partners, and with customers. Creating cross-functional roles to facilitate collaboration was cited by 56% as the most helpful strategy in achieving this goal.
  • More than half (54%) of respondents found the implementation of new technology and tools to be a successful step towards reducing complexity and improving productivity. Enabling collaboration, reducing information overload, building scenarios and prognoses, and enabling real-time decision-making are all key issues that technology can help to reduce complexity at all levels of the organization.

While these initiatives won’t help everyone, it is interesting to see that more than half of companies believe that if they could cut complexity in half they could be at least 11%-25% more productive. That nearly one in five respondents indicated that they could be 26%-50% more productive is a massive improvement.

The question then becomes whether we can make complexity and its impact on productivity not only more visible as a key issue for companies to address, but (even more importantly) also something that every company and every employee should be actively working to reduce. The potential productivity gains listed by respondents certainly provide food for thought, and few other corporate activities are likely to gain that level of ROI.

Just imagine having 45 minutes each and every day for actively pursuing new projects, getting innovative, collaborating, mentoring, learning, reducing stress, etc. What would you do? The vision is certainly compelling, and the question is are we as companies, leaders, and employees going to do something about it?

To read more about the EIU study, please see:

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @michaelrander

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About Michael Rander

Michael Rander is the Global Program Director for Future Of Work at SAP. He is an experienced project manager, strategic and competitive market researcher, operations manager as well as an avid photographer, athlete, traveler and entrepreneur.

How Much Will Digital Cannibalization Eat into Your Business?

Fawn Fitter

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers predicts that 40% of companies will crumble when they fail to complete a successful digital transformation.

These legacy companies may be trying to keep up with insurgent companies that are introducing disruptive technologies, but they’re being held back by the ease of doing business the way they always have – or by how vehemently their customers object to change.

Most organizations today know that they have to embrace innovation. The question is whether they can put a digital business model in place without damaging their existing business so badly that they don’t survive the transition. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss the fine line between disruption and destruction.

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qa_qIn 2011, when Netflix hiked prices and tried to split its streaming and DVD-bymail services, it lost 3.25% of its customer base and 75% of its market capitalization.²︐³ What can we learn from that?

Scott Anthony: That debacle shows that sometimes you can get ahead of your customers. The key is to manage things at the pace of the market, not at your internal speed. You need to know what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to tolerate. Sometimes companies forget what their customers want and care about, and they try to push things on them before they’re ready.

R. “Ray” Wang: You need to be able to split your traditional business and your growth business so that you can focus on big shifts instead of moving the needle 2%. Netflix was responding to its customers – by deciding not to define its brand too narrowly.

qa_qDoes disruption always involve cannibalizing your own business?

Wang: You can’t design new experiences in existing systems. But you have to make sure you manage the revenue stream on the way down in the old business model while managing the growth of the new one.

Merijn Helle: Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are putting a lot of capital into digital initiatives that aren’t paying enough back yet in the form of online sales, and they’re cannibalizing their profits so they can deliver a single authentic experience. Customers don’t see channels, they see brands; and they want to interact with brands seamlessly in real time, regardless of channel or format.

Lars Bastian: In manufacturing, new technologies aren’t about disrupting your business model as much as they are about expanding it. Think about predictive maintenance, the ability to warn customers when the product they’ve purchased will need service. You’re not going to lose customers by introducing new processes. You have to add these digitized services to remain competitive.

qa_qIs cannibalizing your own business better or worse than losing market share to a more innovative competitor?

Michael Liebhold: You have to create that digital business and mandate it to grow. If you cannibalize the existing business, that’s just the price you have to pay.

Wang: Companies that cannibalize their own businesses are the ones that survive. If you don’t do it, someone else will. What we’re really talking about is “Why do you exist? Why does anyone want to buy from you?”

Anthony: I’m not sure that’s the right question. The fundamental question is what you’re using disruption to do. How do you use it to strengthen what you’re doing today, and what new things does it enable? I think you can get so consumed with all the changes that reconfigure what you’re doing today that you do only that. And if you do only that, your business becomes smaller, less significant, and less interesting.

qa_qSo how should companies think about smart disruption?

Anthony: Leaders have to reconfigure today and imagine tomorrow at the same time. It’s not either/or. Every disruptive threat has an equal, if not greater, opportunity. When disruption strikes, it’s a mistake only to feel the threat to your legacy business. It’s an opportunity to expand into a different marke.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_4Liebhold: It starts at the top. You can’t ask a CEO for an eight-figure budget to upgrade a cloud analytics system if the C-suite doesn’t understand the power of integrating data from across all the legacy systems. So the first task is to educate the senior team so it can approve the budgets.

Scott Underwood: Some of the most interesting questions are internal organizational questions, keeping people from feeling that their livelihoods are in danger or introducing ways to keep them engaged.

Leon Segal: Absolutely. If you want to enter a new market or introduce a new product, there’s a whole chain of stakeholders – including your own employees and the distribution chain. Their experiences are also new. Once you start looking for things that affect their experience, you can’t help doing it. You walk around the office and say, “That doesn’t look right, they don’t look happy. Maybe we should change that around.”

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. 

To learn more about how to disrupt your business without destroying it, read the in-depth report Digital Disruption: When to Cook the Golden Goose.

Download the PDF (1.2MB)

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How To Answer The Question: “What Is Our Digital Strategy?”

Dany Ortchanian

Anxious boards around the world are asking their CEOs: “What exactly is our digital strategy?”

That has very quickly become the most relevant—and the most loaded—question you’ll hear in pretty much any board meeting. A minority are answering it well, but most are struggling.

All companies feel mounting pressure for a change of business model to keep the business from becoming redundant in the digital economy and to continue growth. They are trying to understand how to change that model in reaction to shifting macroeconomic trends, and unlock opportunities to increase profits, grow the customer base, and become more productive.

The question that perhaps is not being asked as often in boardrooms is: “Will this ever slow down?” In truth, no one knows, but the likelihood is that this constant change and forced business reinvention will continue on a path of relentless acceleration.

Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn last week is a perfect example of the dizzying pace at which businesses are expected to make enormous decisions that will determine their future. Microsoft spent $26BN, a 50% premium, on a company some would argue is on the ropes after a weak Q1.

Microsoft is simply reacting to the pace of change by acting fast, thinking big, and trying to get ahead of the game. It might be comforting, or possibly anxiety-inducing, for boardrooms to know that even a cutting-edge company like Microsoft must to make huge decisions on-the-fly and constantly evolve its business model to keep growing.

The investment is certainly not guaranteed to pay off, but that’s the reality we face in today’s digital world, in which every industry feels the disruption.

Check out these InfoDocs about digital disruption in Canada (in English and French). They spell out, step-by-step, how any business can start tackling its digital strategy.

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Dany Ortchanian

About Dany Ortchanian

Dany Ortchanian is vice president, Eastern Region for SAP Canada. He provides executive support and guidance to enterprises across all industries in eastern Canada, devising strategies that help them get the best out of SAP solutions to achieve business success.

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