Strategic Onboarding – Part 4: Onboarding By Any Other Name


Welcome to the fourth post in this series on strategic onboarding where we tackle the third of six common onboarding questions. Question #3:  How do preboarding and crossboarding fit into the strategic onboarding process?

In her recent article “Onboarding: It’s a Personal Experience, Not a One-Time Event” for Workforce Solutions Review, Deb Maher, Senior Director of HRIS and Shared Services at DeVry Inc., examines how onboarding is more effective when treated as an experience.  This experience approach can be applied to the preboarding period, which she defines as “the moment of acceptance until the employee shows up for their first day.”

This is invaluable insight. Thinking of preboarding as an opportunity to create an overwhelmingly positive experience for the new hire in preparation for their first day and indeed the start of their career working for the company transforms how a company uses and values this time.

Companies begin to see the preboarding period as an opportune time to socialize an employee into their new work team and the organization by introducing them to company leaders, peers, managers and especially mentors.

Simply thinking of everything you wished you had known prior to your first day will give you numerous ways to create a meaningful, welcoming and engaging preboarding experience.

Conversely, failing to see preboarding as an opportunity to engage, prepare and welcome your new hire into your organization and you end up with what Michael Pietrack smartly calls “The Silent Period” in his blog post.

Now what about crossboarding? What even is crossboarding??

Crossboarding can be thought of as onboarding for an existing employee moving into a new role. In a recent webinar about the results of Aberdeen’s 2012 strategic onboarding research, Madeline Laurano, Aberdeen’s Research Director of Talent Acquisition Solutions called crossboarding a “pivotal juncture in an employee’s lifecycle”.

Setting up an existing employee to succeed is clearly of critical importance.  While they may be familiar with your company’s culture, they will benefit from socialization with their new work team, department, leaders and peers.  Mentorship and training/education plays a bigger role here by giving your employee the advice, knowledge and confidence they need to succeed.

Ms. Laurano also mentioned another application of onboarding – this time in the case of a merger of acquisition.  Called “massboarding”, this is another example of an opportunity to apply the onboarding experience approach to create a positive, engaging and welcoming experience focussed on socialization and preparation of employees to be successful in their new culture.

So let’s make one up – how about “transboarding”? This would be the application of the onboarding experience approach to an employee transferring to a new location, branch or even country. Heck, this approach could even add value by applying it employee offboarding!

In all these cases, whatever their name, onboarding is the practice of seeking ways to better support, engage, socialize and prepare employees to succeed at something new.  Onboarding is about employee success. Having automated HR tools and technology to manage onboarding processes is critical to the success of the employee and the company.

And as your employees succeed, so too will your company.

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