Are your new hires on the bus?
Updated: Jan 15
“You’re either on the bus or you’re off the bus”. This was the mantra of a previous boss of mine… She’d say it during weekly catch-ups, regular team meetings and was frequently heard finishing phone calls, uttering the same refrain. It wasn’t said with malice. There was no narrowing of the eyes, sneering of the upper lip or clawing of the fingers in the style of a cartoon villain. Yet, until I stopped her to ask what the phrase actually meant, I would subconsciously get into my Power Pose, feeling the need to defend an oncoming attack…
…and that’s why Onboarding is so important!
Until recently, the average Induction process involved a new starter completing an onslaught of elearning, before being buddied with the busiest member of the team. One unforgettable induction scared the bejesus out of me; having been shooed in to a small room just off reception to read the 182-page Security Manual, before being allowed access to the secured areas. Okay, I learnt how to respond in the event of a Tiger Kidnapping, but was I on the bus? Goodness no! I felt like that woman desperate to escape the speeding bus in that film from the 90s! Fortunately, we’ve come along way since then – as has Keanu Reeves…
These days we pay closer attention to how new employees are introduced to the organisation. Having dedicated time selecting a great candidate, it’s frustrating that labour turnover rates continue to rise, especially within the probationary period. The CIPD refers to research that demonstrates the mutual benefits of an effective Induction programme for both the employer and employee. Not only does it reduce absenteeism and turnover, it’s proven to increase engagement. “Assessing the training needs of new employees consumes time and money, but it sends the message that the organisation is committed to the development of its employees, to giving them the right tools to perform, and to putting them in a position where they can succeed” (Hacker, 2004).
According to the
,two-fifths of participating HR professionals had implemented specific retention initiatives, with 56% improving their induction process. Yet this wasn’t considered an effective solution to address their LTO issues (CIPD, 2017).
Let's take a closer look at that bus analogy... My boss explained that it refers to Group Consciousness… ”oh right, I see” was my reply. Of course, I didn’t see, so I went away and Googled it! During the summer of 1964, Ken Kesey - the famous counterculturist and writer of the novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” - bought an old school bus to transport his ‘Merry Band of Pranksters’ across the US, filming their counterculture activities. Each time he stopped to fuel up or find shelter, Kesey would brace himself for the inevitable; herding up latecomers who arrived after expected time of departure, then further delaying the journey in order to go in search of passengers that had somehow wandered off.
Group Consciousness held importance for Kesey et al: “The idea was to put individual differences aside and work as a group, an attuned group. Those who weren't attuned disrupted the trip, whether they knew it or not. These were the people who were usually "off the bus." The ones who were attuned to the group consciousness, those who understood the purpose of agreed plans, that willingly did their share of the work without being cajoled into compliance, these were the ones who were "on the bus." Thus, the literal meaning of "You are either on the bus or off the bus" is "You are either attuned to the group consciousness or you are not attuned to the group consciousness." (Pringle, 1997).
The purpose of reviewing the Onboarding process is to identify then rectify weak points occurring through all stages of the employee lifecycle, that have a detrimental impact on the employer brand. Unfortunately, as the CIPD survey demonstrated, if those tasked with improving employee inductions are not attuned to the risks affecting employer brand, it’s likely that their new initiatives continue to 'disrupt the journey' . A friend recently left a Project Engineering job within his first 4 days due to a disastrous Onboarding experience; two of which he wasn’t even registered as an employee on the people management system. Blame was passed from one department to another, but ultimately my friend felt that the company hadn’t valued his decision to join them, hence he chose to leave.
When the latest Onboarding initiative simply involves a new induction checklist, an increase in online courses or an enhanced end-of-probationary review, the odds of it helping retain those bus passengers are slim to none. How can leaders ensure that existing employees are attuned to the group consciousness in order to recruit and retain new talent? Why is it necessary to engage all areas of the organisation instead of off-loading it to HR? When should Onboarding begin? I look forward to reading your insights in the comments section below.
What is Imagimont?
I'm Jo, a Freelance Learning Experience Designer at Imagimont Ltd. With a creative flair and commitment to engagement, I manage development projects that align to the organisation’s culture, values and business strategy. Partnering with internal stakeholders and external providers, I deliver blended learning resources fully accessible using multimedia at the point of need. My commercial awareness, UK Regulatory Compliance expertise and 10 years’ experience as a People Development Specialist ensure that learning initiatives evolve as quickly as service expectations.
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