January 21, 2020
Finding the right employees isn’t always easy, especially for growing businesses that don’t have the brand recognition, budget, or overall reach of larger enterprises. In 2017, half of respondents to Wasp Barcode’s Status of Small Business Report cited hiring new workers as their biggest challenge, making it the most-reported difficulty overall among firms with 499 workers or fewer. Hiring worries even topped challenges like handling healthcare plans and growing company revenue.
The challenge is not limited to recruiting talented individuals, but also retaining them. This is where on-boarding processes and employee ramping are pivotal. According to Gallup, 12% of U.S. employees strongly agree that their employers on-board efficiently. That’s bad news for retention, productivity, and the overall survival of many businesses. However, it’s also a problem solvable with effective communication training.
What communication training means in the context of on-boarding
Pick almost any job posting from the past 20 years and it’s virtually certain to include some combination of “communication skills,” “effective communicator,” and “written and oral communications” in its list of desired qualifications. These attributes are placeholders in many instances, but they do reveal something important: the centrality of effective communications practices to business and collaboration.
Whether connecting via phone, email, or video conference, employees need to be able to write and speak clearly so that the interaction or meeting stays on track. Still, it can take some time for new employees to get into the right rhythm of how everyone at the organization interacts with one another (e.g., which channel they prefer, what hours they’re normally online, etc.). This task can be further complicated if a business is heavily reliant on mobile and remote workers- an increasingly popular arrangement for reducing overhead and giving employees more flexibility.
When interacting with someone they’ve never met in person, communication skills such as knowing how to speak well in front of a video conference audience or craft a succinct email are paramount. Employers can help new hires acclimate themselves to these workflows and others through communication trainings during onboardings, conducted via the same tools the company uses for everyday collaboration.
Bringing new hires up to speed with video and team collaboration tools
Picture a typical onboarding process and all of the complications that come with it, including filling out numerous forms and learning about company policies.
The complexity of the process can be disorienting for new employees, not to mention costly for businesses that may have to dedicate numerous hours and tie up valuable resources or conference room space in the process.
There’s a better approach, though. For example, using a video conferencing platform lets businesses conduct training in a face-to-face setting from anywhere, so new employees can onboard and ramp up even if they’re remote. Recording these sessions for on-demand viewing can also be a great way to create an always-accessible library of training, making it easier and more cost-effective to onboard employees over time.
Improving the on-boarding process pays clear dividends in the form of higher employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. And leveraging the same communication and collaboration tools the business relies on can make the process more effective while also preparing the employee for the working habits and culture of their new company.
Cory Treffiletti is a successful marketer, author, entrepreneur and student of popular culture with a deep background in digital dating back to 1994. Cory is currently Global Head of Marketing for Cisco's Webex.com and previously was Chief Marketing Officer for Voicea (acquired by Cisco in 2019). Cory was also CMO for BlueKai, the leading cloud-based, marketing data management platform acquired by Oracle in 2014, where he became CMO of the Oracle Data Cloud. Before going in-house as a B2B marketer, Cory pioneered the digital agency world by launching strategy firm Catalyst SF and as an executive in industry-leading agencies such as i-Traffic, Freestyle Interactive, and Carat (Aegis). Cory’s strategies have been documented in his weekly column on digital marketing since 2000 for MediaPost's OnlineSPIN/Media Insider column as well as his book Internet Ad Pioneers (available on Amazon.com). Cory has served on a number of industry boards and networking organizations and continues to advise companies with a unique B2B offering and a specific set of challenges to overcome.