What is Relational Onboarding?

Relational Onboarding is not your traditional onboarding of an employee. I was talking to a friend in DC the other day and she just started a new job. I asked her what they did to get her oriented to the organization. Now before I tell you what she told me I need to let you know what else this organization does. They are a Business Consulting firm who has a division that does Social Media Marketing and Strategies for businesses. They help organizations with Social Media. So why is this important? Well now let me tell you her answer to the question of how they oriented her to the organization. She said they gave her a bunch of manuals, some webisodes and had her look at their website. This is how they handled the onboarding. She was relieved when she finally got to start working on a project.

The reason I told you about them helping organizations with Social Media is that companies all over the world are starting to had Social Media services for their clients. But not everyone really understands what those services should entail. Any Social Media Strategy should include not only customers, business development and branding but also internal communications and onboarding. Organizations should look at Social Media as an integration of doing things differently through out the entire organization.

Gen Y or Gen WE as they prefer to be called, oh and by the way they hate being called the Millenials, are entering the workforce in large numbers this year. They come from a world that has labeled them “digital natives“. This group has very different priorities when looking for work and choosing an employer. They are very interested in developing relationships with the company they pick and the people who are in that company, including the Executive leadership. Why should you care? Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce and Gen WE is coming in at record numbers. They will take the place of all those key employees and they bring with them the skills needed to attract the new consumer or client.

Relational Onboarding may be defined as helping new hires to become connected with both the formal and informal networks within an organization for the purpose of relationship building, expertise location, knowledge sharing and cultural assimilation. Social networking technologies provide the platform around which such programs may be built, and social network analysis may help to identify the characteristics of well-networked top performers for the purpose of behavior modeling and informal  network integration enabled by the technology. Georgia Pacific is moving forward with great strides to create a 3D game environment to help their new hires learn the culture, the company information, and connect with key individuals to their success. Yes it is an actual game like you would play on Wii or Xbox.

Relational Onboarding does several things for an organization. It helps them to:

  • Shorten ramp up time
  • Reduce first year turnover
  • Raise offer acceptance
  • Increase long-term retention

A recent study of Select Mind/Intellisurvey revealed that, enterprise wide, focusing on connectivity and creating corporate networks can increase productivity by approximately 10% and retention by nearly 9%.

Organizations understand the value of onboarding and it’s effects on the bottom line but existing onboarding programs fail because they are informational or administrative.

The fix is that organizations need to change the way they think about onboarding and learn to see it as an invaluable opportunity to make lasting relationships with their employees by helping  their employees make meaningful relationships with each other.

By taking a relational approach to onboarding, companies can help their new employees to connect with their personal networks, learn the corporate culture, and gain knowledge important to their success.

The key to effective Relational Onboarding is to have everyone; executives and leadership invest in maintaining social relationships throughout the organization and create an environment with an expectation of collaboration.

This takes some time to map out those successful high performer networks but the organizations that take the time to put the process, tools and technology in place, to keep the new employees connected to real people, will reap the benefits.

Les Adkins, CEO Orange-SMS (Social Media Solutions)



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