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What Can Higher Ed Teach Us About Onboarding?

Kristen Buchanan

It’s no secret that my company Edify is all about onboarding, and our team was recently reminded of how much proper onboarding can lead to employee success.

This reminder didn’t come through the usual channel of working with companies, but through someone who works in Higher Education.

A dear friend of mine works in higher education, and each year she teaches a course specifically designed for new students of the university. Her 10-week course features everything from financial literacy to community contracts, as well as important topics like group dynamics and team-based learning.

She also shares resources available through the university, and tells students where and how to access those resources.

By taking this course students are taught how to plug in to the native ecosystem at the university, with the intent of familiarizing students with the resources at their disposal to help them perform better in school.

That sounds a lot like onboarding a new employee to me.

Now, not everyone has opportunities to learn about their university through a strategy like this. It’s not essential to succeeding in college, but it definitely helps set students up for success.

In fact, there is some strong data showing that in higher education, students that get this kind of support actually stay in the college (they are retained), and stay at the school longer (meaning there’s persistence) than other students.

These are familiar terms to the Edify team — we talk about retention and persistence in employees as important measures for onboarding success.

While we might not all have the time to invest in a 10 week course for new hires, there’s definitely a lesson to be learned here.

When we invest in onboarding and teach new hires how to plug in to their new environment — how to get the resources they need, how to work with people, who to find, who to talk to — those new employees become more successful, and therefore they stay longer and they are happier on our teams.

And we know all about how employee engagement and happiness actually impacts the bottom line.

The first 90 days are crucial to setting the tone for that employee’s entire experience on the team, and giving them a “crash course” on your company could be exactly what they need to hit the ground running and feel like they know how to use the resources at their disposal.

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