At the manager and organizational level, a lot of time and effort is spent to successfully onboard an employee and make sure they are set up for success. There is a lot of focus and effort on the employee onboarding process, but an often overlooked and vital step to employee retention is the inboarding process.
What is Inboarding?
That wasn’t a typo, we really meant inboarding. So, what is inboarding? Similar to onboarding, inboarding is the process of providing support and tools to encourage the growth, skill development, and advancement of your workforce that has been with the company. So, instead of focusing on bringing new hires up to speed, you are focusing on keeping current employees optimal and always improving.
Onboarding will always need to be a focus, but it is still important to give your more tenured employees professional and growth opportunities, skill-building training, and recognition. By creating a process in which the company provides their more established employees with more opportunities, you can improve retention, create better job knowledge for the employee, and improve productivity and efficiency.
Elements of Inboarding
Inboarding processes involve a few different factors, but some categories include:
- Continuous feedback
- Training and development
- Hiring and promoting internally
A part of the inboarding process can be as simple as communicating what is available for employees. When an employee is new to the organization, they are focused on learning about their job and about the organization. Once the employee has become established in their role and in the organization, it is vital to keep them motivated.
Continuous feedback and listening should be a big part of your inboarding process. You want to create opportunities for employees to be able to share their feedback and opinions about the organization, and then make improvements based on that feedback. The main thing you need to focus on here is making this a continuous effort and not just a one-and-done ask for feedback. Develop a thought-out strategy around this, and find ways to bake in natural feedback opportunities into one-on-ones and check-ins. One of the most effective approaches is consistent employee surveys that can be collected on a periodic basis and tracked for progress. Annual engagement surveys are commonly used and gather a wealth of information about what is helping or hindering employee engagement.
The ultimate goal of continuous feedback is to create a company culture where employees feel comfortable and empowered to share ideas, feedback, and constructive criticism knowing that it won’t fall on deaf ears.
Training and Development
As a manager, it’s important to check in with employees about their career goals and share what tools or programs are available to them at the organization. According to research from our 2023 Engagement Report, having growth and development opportunities is one of the top factors impacting employee engagement.
Oftentimes there are many great initiatives within the company, but they aren’t being taken advantage of because many just aren’t aware they exist or know how to access them. If your company offers online trainings, learning modules, or other resources, be sure to communicate them and encourage people to use them whenever possible.
If you don’t currently have any professional development or skill-building resources, consider making some available to employees. This can be as robust as having group-facilitated trainings on a regular basis, or as simple as sharing helpful online videos or guides on occasion. General skill building can be beneficial for all employees regardless of tenure, role, and area. By providing these types of resources, employees have a chance to learn or sharpen skills, improve productivity, and build confidence and efficiency in their roles.
Managers can include cross-training opportunities with other job roles or in other departments. An example of this type of training is if an employee has expressed an interest in management, they can be mentored by another manager or leader in the organization. Perhaps an employee is interested in moving to a different department. Allowing them to sit in on training offered in that area, or job shadow another employee gives them the opportunity to learn what they are interested in, and potentially giving them the opening to transfer roles into another area.
Hiring and Promoting Internally
Another way to boost engagement with inboarding is by looking internally when hiring. Oftentimes employees may be interested in applying for a role within the company but don’t always get the opportunity to apply. Prioritize your existing employees when a position opens and let them know that it is open before sharing it publicly. Also look at your existing talent and see if anyone could be promoted into a role before looking elsewhere. Many employees feel overlooked when they have been in their position for some time and instead of being promoted, an outside employee gets selected to manage them. It’s not always possible to promote internally, especially if you are growing quickly but always remember to think of your current employees first.
Recognition is an important part of the inboarding process and can be easily accomplished. Your more established employees are often the ones you have to worry about the least. They are the ones who understand what is expected of them and how to accomplish it. As a manager, you know how important it is to have a team you can trust to get their job done without involvement from you. This is something to recognize; they are helping make your job easier, they are helping the department accomplish its goals, and ultimately they are helping the organization. Recognition is a skill that needs to be practiced. A simple thank you goes a long way. Recognize an employee for a job well done or when you know an employee has worked an especially hard day. Recognition can always include formalized recognition programs where employees are nominated by management or peers. These types of programs can be motivating for employees to work towards. When thinking about recognition, put yourself in the position of the employee. How do you feel you are recognized for a job well done? If you feel good, you want to continue to do a good job and be recognized, and so do your employees.
Creating another process can be daunting. You already have a lot of work, and adding this to your workload seems scary. Think about the value of what an inboarding process brings the organization, and ultimately, your area. Motivating staff, recognizing staff, providing training and career opportunities – this all involves them in their work and in the organization. These things can be key to engaging and retaining your employees.
If you want to learn more about the role employee surveys play in continuous feedback and increasing your retention and engagement, explore our all-inclusive survey tool. We’ve helped countless companies transform to be a better place to work.