Jeremy Lucabaugh Jeremy Lucabaugh, PhD

In a study of 373 employees from 10 organizations, Klien, Polin, and Sutton (2015) found that new-hires perceive required and formal onboarding practices as more helpful than optional and informal practices.


One of the questions we often struggle with is, "Should this be mandatory or optional?" We now have some evidence pertaining to employee onboarding. 

What does this mean for your onboarding program?


Make effective onboarding practices, regular, formal and mandatory experiences that all new-hires participate in.

These include:

  • Speaking directly to employees about their passions, ambitions and talents (PATs). In other words, simply ask "What are you really good at?" or "When do you feel like you're at your best?" and let the conversation blossom from there.
  • Having current employees interact with new-hires, sharing their own PATs,values, and stories of company/employee winning moments.
  • Discussions with new-hires (and current employees for that matter) about how they will grow with the company and grow their own skill-set over the next few years. Get them excited for their development and they'll work harder for you.
  • Provide challenging scenarios for new-hires to develop solutions for. Remember: Get employees to solve your organizational problems and give them a sense of purpose in the process. This can be done with new-hires as a group, one-on-one or along with current employees.
  • Add more here…or better yet, add them as a comment for others to see and discuss.
This goes for both skilled and unskilled labor, as well as professionals, managers, and executives. These elements impact where it counts. 

New employees have spoken. They find required and formal experiences more helpful. This matters.

What are your views on this?  What employee development do you make mandatory vs optional?

Klein, H. J., Polin, B., & Sutton, K. (2015). Specific onboarding practices for the socialization of new employees. International Journal of Selection & Assessment, 23(3), 263–283.

These are just a few of the many steps you can take in your quest for a better work environment, increased retention, and better productivity.  There is no single, secret solution, just action items we can perform to become better communicators, steadily changing the environments we live and work in. Sometimes we hit that mark that results in immediate impact.  These are the small wins that produce big momentum.


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