Adapting Your Onboarding With Diversity

Adapting Your Onboarding With Diversity
Summary: The workday is busy enough as it is, and many people use standardization and routine as a way of making their seemingly endless to-do lists more manageable. While this is a great technique for many tasks, standardization in onboarding fails to make use of the inherent diversity each worker brings to the table.

Why You Should Adapt Your Onboarding With Diversity

It requires only moderate shifts in philosophy to start putting this diversity to good use. By respecting a wide variety of different learning styles, using cross-training to introduce each employee to the range of functions at your organization, and ensuring that workers have good relationships they can leverage in both work and play, you can build that dream team.

There Is No Such Thing as a “Bad” Learning Style

People have different learning styles, whether they stem from occupational, generational, or auditory versus visual differences. Although the history of the developed world has leaned heavily toward rote visual and auditory learning with emphases on regurgitation, the pedagogical world has increasingly realized the importance of playing to a wide variety of different learning styles.

A 2008 study at Northern Arizona University concluded that appealing to a wide range of learning modalities effectively nullified the artificial differences in the course grade that using only one learning style caused by privileging one learning style over another. The take-home? Using a variety of different teaching practices in training or when introducing employees to their tasks can help to ensure that they learn information quickly and retain it better.

Employee Cross-training Gives New Hires the “Big Picture”

Employee cross-training aids companies in responding to a wide range of problems. Consider, for instance, the case of absenteeism.

In addition to costing the U.S. economy $117 billion in wage replacement and $232 in medical and pharmacy bills in 2012, poor health also cost $227 billion in lost productivity. Much of this lost productivity cost is due to absenteeism or what’s known as “presenteeism,” where the employee is present in body but not necessarily able to perform the tasks for which he or she was hired. Cross-training can help, enabling companies to make use of “pinch hitters” rather than simply writing off that role for the days or weeks the employee is gone.

Not only does cross-training employees help to mitigate some of these staggering costs, it gives your workers a much more well-rounded idea of what actually goes on at your workplace. This benefits your organization in several ways, including:

  • Helping employees truly understand what they can promise clients or customers
  • Better respecting each other’s time
  • Working together more efficiently within and across teams
  • Enabling them to do smaller tasks themselves that formerly they might have had to ask someone from another department to do
  • Encouraging Good Relations among Employees Puts Diversity to Work

Onboarding should not just consist of training; it should include meeting the team and enjoying company outings even before they're hired, depending on the position. Why, you’re wondering? Isn’t this just a waste of company resources, especially if you don’t end up hiring that person?

Not at all.

Giving employees a sense of unity with their peers is critical to creating an engaging, productive and effective workplace. In fact, fostering that sense of unity by allowing all workers to take their breaks simultaneously can increase worker satisfaction by as much as 10 percent, and according to some case studies, can decrease a call center team’s average call handling time by 20 percent. This points to a widely known but little-heeded maxim: the team that plays together stays together.

But perhaps a more important takeaway here is that encouraging your employees to get to know one another will make the best possible use of their diversity in learning style, job function, preference and personal background. When employees know and respect one another, they are able to make much better use of what others bring to the table.

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Onboarding employees isn’t always the easiest process, but doing it right can pay massive dividends in terms of organizational performance, productivity and employee satisfaction. Next time you make a round of hires or bring on even one new employee, remember to pay homage to their individual learning styles, to cross-train for “big picture” benefits, and to encourage unity. Doing so will result in the happy, efficient workforce you’ve always dreamed of.