On-boarding: The new frontier

Meeting with my front office manager wasn’t the typical check-in, touch-base, “How’s it going?” type of meeting. She is the brightest and newest addition to a fine management team that has been together for more than two years. She is doing an excellent job, but it quickly became clear there were questions she had that should have been covered during the “on-boarding process.” 

Now, I have to admit the term “on-boarding process” makes me a little uneasy these days. The luxury of extensive on-boarding of the past lurks in my rearview mirror. When I started in this industry, on-boarding was two weeks of classes, training and shadowing. Then you could actually begin working with guests.

With the elimination of middle layers of management in our industry, some of which were in human resources, the face of on-boarding has changed. In a report by the Society of Human Resource Management, just over half of companies report the on-boarding process is less than eight days in duration. In some cases, hotel demands and lack of staff can put employees on the floor in less than three days. Elimination of “trainers” in many operations leaves the training during the on-boarding process to fellow staff or junior managers. Orientations can take less than a few hours in many cases and end with a meet-and-greet with the general manager. 

Top HR professionals tell me there are no shortcuts in the on-boarding process. So, where do today’s hotel professionals — some of the greatest innovators of any industry — turn?

How do we, in light of tighter schedules and financial resources, ensure we are on-boarding our teams in the most effective and efficient manner? Is it complicated by a new generation that places emphasis on their emotional needs in their new environment over, in some cases, the job opportunity itself?

Going to the source of all sources — the Internet — there are many options available for today’s employers. An entire industry of ”on-boarding companies,” software, checklists, do-it-yourself online kits and numerous resources present themselves as today’s answer to integrate, motivate and engage your latest new hires.

Regardless of your path, the most important element in the new-hire process is time. Time not invested in the new hire and on-boarding process ends up in time spent in turnover of staff.

Is it time to re-think your on-boarding process?

How has on-boarding changed in your organization over the years?

What tips do you have for effective on-boarding of today’s employees?

I look forward to hearing about your solutions and successes.