“Bauer (2010) noted that effective onboarding has short-term and long-term benefits for both the new employee and the organization, explaining that employees effectively assimilated into an organization, have greater job satisfaction and organizational commitment, higher retention rates, lower time to productivity, and have greater success in achieving customer satisfaction with their work” (as cited in Caldwell & Peters, 2017, p. 29).
We have all shared the experience of starting a new position while juggling efforts to make a good impression, understand the position’s roles and responsibilities, become acquainted with the organizational culture and build relationships with new team members. Depending upon the structure of onboarding sessions, the size of the organization and the complexity of information, it can quickly become overwhelming trying to process all the information provided. Employee onboarding should therefore be treated not as a formality and one-time event but viewed as a journey that can make the difference in employee success.
In my current context, new employees meet with a minimum of 15 teams separately over a six-week time frame for multiple onboarding sessions. Handouts are provided in each meeting; however, there is no consolidated digital repository in which employees can access information. As a result, new employees are often overwhelmed by information provided and lack resources to support organizational understanding. My interest, therefore, lies in creating a digital learning resource to support new employee onboarding.
To better understand the needs of a new or returning employee partaking in the onboarding process, I have chosen a combination of direct observation and interviews. For the purposes of this blog, I will narrow in on interviews as the chosen empathic method. I value the opportunity to hear from users about their experiences and consider this an important step in the research process. IDEO (2015) emphasized that in human-centered design, the value lies in hearing directly from people you will be designing for what is important to them. I want to understand what the onboarding process is like through the eyes of new or returning employees to our unit.
As part of the interview process, I plan to use the Why-How Laddering technique which can reveal user needs and determine what is meaningful and actionable (Stanford University Institute of Design, 2016). I would like to try out this technique because asking ‘why’ can elicit intangible responses, whereas ‘how’ questions in combination with ‘why’ can lead to actionable items (Stanford University Institute of Design, 2016). My hope is that through these interviews, I will uncover any gaps that can be addressed with the creation of a digital learning resource, and provide for a more meaningful onboarding experience.
For the interviews, I will need paper and pen to record responses. I plan to interview one to two individuals; one employee who has recently been onboarded into the unit, and potentially another employee who has been assisting with onboarding efforts. I will also be drawing from my observations and experiences having recently gone through onboarding several months ago as a returning employee.
The unit I am part of is in a transitory stage as part of department-wide restructuring efforts. As a result, the onboarding has become even more disjointed, so in interviewing new/returning employees, their responses may be heavily influenced by this rather turbulent transition. Responses may therefore focus on issues that are beyond the scope of control in creating a digital learning resource for onboarding purposes. Additionally, time limitations are always a challenge, especially given the tight turnaround on gathering information in the next week which falls on the July 4th holiday (I am based out of the US). Although, I have already compiled notes from my own observations, these interviews will provide key data in reporting on needs.
I welcome any feedback and suggestions on how I might better support an empathic approach in understanding my end user, and/or overcoming challenges listed.
Caldwell, C., & Peters, R. (2017). New employee onboarding – psychological contracts and ethical perspectives. Journal of Management Development, 37(1), 27-39. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-10-2016-0202
IDEO. (2015). Design Kit – Methods. Retrieved from http://www.designkit.org/methods
Stanford University Institute of Design. (2016). Bootcamp Bootleg. Retrieved from http://dschool-old.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/METHODCARDS-v3-slim.pdf