Career Insights with Brandy Harris

Leadership & Executive Communication , Recruitment & Reskilling Strategy , Training & Security Leadership

The Critical Role of Effective Onboarding

How Your Onboarding Process Can Help Improve Retention and Human Risk Mitigation
The Critical Role of Effective Onboarding

Effective onboarding goes beyond mere orientation; it is a comprehensive process that integrates new hires into the organizational culture, aligns them with company values and equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their roles effectively.

See Also: Cybersecurity workforce development: A Public/Private Partnership that enhances cybersecurity while giving hands-on SOC experience to students

Onboarding practices have shifted toward virtual onboarding and the integration of technology and automation. Trends reflect the changing nature of work and the importance of personalization and continuous learning in retaining talent.

Research shows that onboarding affects organizational culture and turnover rates, demonstrating that well-structured onboarding programs are crucial for building a positive organizational culture and enhancing employee retention. This is particularly relevant in the technology sector, where the rapid pace of change and the need for specialized skills make employee engagement and retention paramount.

How Onboarding Affects Engagement and Retention

Research provides empirical evidence of the positive impact onboarding has on employee engagement and retention in the IT sector. It indicates that employees who participate in extended onboarding programs exhibit higher levels of engagement and are more likely to remain with the company. This underscores the value of onboarding in not only mitigating human risks but also in building a loyal and committed workforce.

Key Onboarding Statistics

Here are some statistics collected by Techjury for organizations in 2023:

  • Fifty-eight percent of programs prioritize processes and paperwork with an average of 54 tasks to complete.
  • A negative onboarding experience doubles the likelihood of employees seeking new opportunities.
  • Standard onboarding boosts retention by 50% while superior onboarding leads to 69% of employees staying for three years.
  • Job satisfaction triples when onboarding focuses on career development.
  • Effective onboarding programs lead to higher productivity and a 54% increase in employee engagement.
  • Seventy-seven percent of new employees who achieve their first performance milestone received formal onboarding.
  • The cost of employee turnover ranges from 16% to 20% of the employee's salary to refill the vacancy.
  • Sixty percent of companies reportedly do not set any goals or milestones for new hires - a practice that is pivotal for guiding new employees through a structured progression path during their initial period in an organization.
  • Over one-third of companies lack any structured onboarding process at all, indicating a substantial gap in the adoption of comprehensive onboarding strategies. This suggests that despite the widely recognized importance of effective onboarding for employee retention, productivity, and satisfaction, a significant portion of the corporate world has yet to fully embrace or invest in robust programs.

The absence of a robust onboarding process in many companies can be attributed to a variety of factors that contribute to the oversight or undervaluation of comprehensive onboarding strategies, including:

  • Lack of awareness or understanding;
  • Resource constraints;
  • Organizational culture and resistance to change;
  • Rapid growth or high turnover rates;
  • Misalignment of priorities;
  • Lack of feedback or evaluation mechanisms;
  • Technological limitations.

But the benefits of investing in comprehensive onboarding programs, which include enhanced employee engagement and retention and reduced compliance risks, far outweigh these challenges.

Onboarding and Human Risk Management

Perhaps the biggest benefit is the opportunity to effectively incorporate onboarding as part of a comprehensive human risk management plan. HRM involves identifying and mitigating risks related to employee behavior that could affect an organization's cybersecurity posture. The benefits include:

  • Behavioral change: Targeted training is focused on changing behaviors by addressing the specific risk profiles and learning needs of employees.
  • Increased vigilance: By focusing on the areas of greatest risk, training during onboarding increases awareness and vigilance among employees about the cyberthreats most relevant to their own roles and behaviors.
  • Empowered employees: Onboarding gives the company the opportunity to empower employees by providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to recognize and respond to cyberthreats, fostering a proactive security culture./li>
  • Compliance and risk management: Targeted training also supports compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards, which helps manage legal and operational risks by ensuring that training is relevant and effective.
  • Reduction in incident rates: The ultimate goal of targeted training during the onboarding process is to reduce the rate of incidents caused by human error. By addressing the specific ways in which employees are most likely to contribute to security breaches, organizations can see a measurable decrease in cyber incidents, which in turn reduces the potential financial and reputational damage.

Targeted human risk management training during onboarding is a critical component of a comprehensive HRM strategy. It moves the needle on decreasing cyber incidents caused by human error, and it builds a more resilient and security-aware organizational culture.

Creating a Robust Onboarding Program

A robust employee onboarding program makes an organization successful by ensuring that new hires feel welcomed, valued and prepared to contribute to the company's goals from day one. Here's what should be included in a comprehensive onboarding program:

Pre-Boarding Activities

  • Welcome communication: Before the employee's first day, send out a welcome message or package, including details about the first day, what to expect, and any paperwork that can be completed in advance.
  • Access setup: Ensure that new hires have access to necessary systems, email accounts and equipment prior to or on their first day.

First Day Orientations

  • Formal introduction: Introduce the new employee to the team and key contacts and provide a tour of the office facilities when possible.
  • Company culture overview: Present the company's mission, values and culture to align the new employee with organizational expectations and ethos.
  • Administrative onboarding: Complete any outstanding paperwork and logistical setup, including workspaces, IT access and security clearances.

Comprehensive Training Program

  • Role-specific training related to cybersecurity: Provide detailed training sessions tailored to the new employee's job responsibilities, including tools, software and processes they'll be using.
  • Role-specific task training: Provide detailed training sessions covering the spectrum of job tasks the employee will be expected to perform.
  • Company policies and procedures: Review important policies, such as security, privacy, HR policies and compliance requirements.
  • Mentorship or buddy system: Assign a mentor or buddy to provide guidance, answer questions and help integrate the new hire into the team.
  • Access to knowledge bases: Direct employees to resources or knowledge bases where they can find information and answers independently.

Integration Into the Team

  • Team-building activities: Engage in activities designed to foster relationships with existing team members, encouraging collaboration and camaraderie.
  • Meetings with key stakeholders: Schedule meetings with key stakeholders to establish important working relationships and understand cross-departmental dependencies.
  • Social events: Encourage participation in companywide events, team lunches or other social gatherings to build personal connections within the team.

Continuous Learning and Development

  • Ongoing training opportunities: Provide access to resources for continuous professional development, including workshops, courses and seminars.
  • Career path discussions: Discuss career progression, goals and how they align with organizational objectives.

Regular Feedback and Evaluation

  • Initial check-ins: Schedule regular meetings within the first weeks and months to address questions, provide feedback and adjust the onboarding process as necessary.
  • Formal review milestones: Set up 30-, 60- and 90-day review sessions to evaluate the new employee's adaptation to the role, provide constructive feedback and discuss any adjustments or support needed.

Implementing a robust onboarding program such as this is an investment in the workforce that pays dividends in terms of employee satisfaction, retention and overall organizational performance. As the technology sector continues to evolve, the importance of effective onboarding in managing human risks and supporting long-term success cannot be overstated. Organizations that recognize and invest in the strategic value of onboarding will be better positioned to navigate the complexities of the modern business landscape and achieve their objectives in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced industry.



About the Author

Brandy Harris

Brandy Harris

Director, Learning And Organizational Development, CyberEd.io

Harris has more than 20 years of experience in education and is dedicated to evolving the cybersecurity workforce. She develops and evaluates cybersecurity programs. Harris promotes diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity by fostering collaboration between industry and academia, aiming to bridge the talent gap and drive positive change. She previously served as assistant dean and faculty member in the graduate cybersecurity program at Grand Canyon University.




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