Great Onboarding: Hacking Cognitive Science
Have you ever seen a stick and jumped a mile thinking it was a snake? Or watched a funny video of a cat reacting to a cucumber?
Ever wonder why that happened?
Our brains take in information via two neural pathways – one goes directly to the thalamus and the other passes through the limbic system. The first is ancient and keeps us out of trouble. It’s the shortcut from our senses to our brain that tells us whether to fight or flight. We see a bear and the first pathway says run! The other is reserved for deeper, more reflective thought. It lets us think about the bear and devise ways to protect ourselves from it in the future.
What does this have to do with onboarding? Everything!
When an employee joins a new company, they take in a ton of information, and all of it is filtered through these two neural pathways. These indelible first impressions linger with new hires and influence whether they will be long term, engaged employees or if they’ll quickly leave the company. These impressions can either erode confidence and happiness or strengthen an employee’s engagement with the company. If you get it wrong from the start, it’s very difficult to overcome.
A thoughtful, modern onboarding experience is the key to nailing your new employee’s first impression.
Here’s the easy way to impress new hires:
A well-structured, modern onboarding process is the key to managing a new employee’s first impression and not triggering an immediate flight reflex. Uncertainty about where to go, who to talk to, and what to do can easily be mitigated by establishing and sharing a plan with your new employee. You never want them to wonder about anything. This plan also demonstrates that you care about them joining your team and have actively considered how to best onboard them.
Busy staff means your onboarding process must be automated for HR, the hiring manager, and the employee. Create automated workflows, templates, and reminders to ensure every employee has the same, excellent onboarding experience.
The onboarding experience you provide your employees should be continuously evolving. Survey your staff and learned what’s working and what’s not – from the HR and employee perspective. Incorporate this feedback and keep making your onboarding experience better.