Reimagine Onboarding: Creating an impactful 90-day experience through gamification
In a fast-changing business environment with a diverse workforce, employee engagement and retention are some of the top concerns of any organization. In addition, the advent of a hybrid and digital-focused workplace has increased the challenges of engaging employees effectively. Today, employers are increasingly looking to engage employees even before they join the organization and create a consistently smooth experience for employees throughout their lifecycles.
One crucial aspect of this has been redesigning the onboarding process through new-age tools and digital interventions. In addition, the gamification of the onboarding process expedites the integration and assimilation of employees and makes them productive. In this blog based on an exclusive webcast hosted in partnership with Imarticus Learning, we have Pramey Jain, Co-Founder and CEO at Tartan, Manavi Pathak, Head - Learning and Organizational Development at Samsung R&D Institute India, and Sandeep Rambhatla, Head Enterprise Learning Solutions at Imarticus Learning, discuss the meaning and significance of a gamified onboarding experience.
Top trends reshaping the employee workplace and onboarding experience
The more significant changes that have taken place in the workplace over the past two to three years have significantly impacted the employee experience. Pramey explains that the increase in the hybrid working model, changes in employee behaviour and expectations, focus on building a digital-first culture, and data security concerns have influenced the evolution of the modern onboarding process. Right from the moment a candidate is selected, there is an expectation to provide a smooth and frictionless experience that creates a positive impression. How an individual feels during the onboarding process correlates with how long they intend to work at an organization. This requires an overhaul of traditional policies, processes, and systems.
Manavi adds that the conventional approach to onboarding new employees is too unidirectional and passive for a digital native workforce. This can hurt the employee experience, and the demand to redesign the onboarding process predates the pandemic. Integrating innovative ways to increase motivation and engagement can reinforce a positive culture and mindset for new employees.
Key expectations employees to consider
Pramey says that all people today expect targeted, crisp and relevant communication. This means doing away with redundant emails, notifications, and documents. Each employee's experience should help them learn and contribute to the development of the entire community at the workplace. It is essential to back gamification with the right set of tools, content, and incentives to ensure that the flow of information remains consistent. Manavi further explains that from a design perspective, seamless integration of digital tools, bite-sized delivery, and flexibility can help prevent cognitive overload during the initial few days for new employees. The messaging and assessment also need to be designed by these new systems that are like a debrief rather than a test. Ensuring that employees see a visible form of progress and ownership of their learning journeys can be much more satisfying and rewarding.
How gamification of the onboarding process help solves talent challenges
Sandeep explains that a variety of gamification tools are available across the spectrum. On the one hand, we have low-cost games and activities introducing the way of working and culture. Conversely, we have more sophisticated digital interventions with a well-designed learning path for more specific goals. The critical thing to remember is that engagement starts before the employee's first day, and this preboarding time is when companies can use several gamification interventions. So, instead of limiting the onboarding process to sharing the company's value, culture, and history, we can include more functionalist and process-based onboarding suited for individualized roles and personalities. This can also ensure that the employer also learns about the new employee.
It can be helpful to expand the ambit of the onboarding process and divide it into distinct stages:
- Preboarding: Between 1 to 60 days: This is when organizations can provide an early glimpse of the organizational culture and introduce managers, team managers and colleagues.
- Date of joining: Between 1 to 2 days: At this stage, employees can learn about the company values, products, policies, policies and responsibilities
- Integration: Between 30 to 120 days: Here, employees learn more about the company and are enabled to solve different business challenges.
Gamified interventions created for different stages can create personalized learning paths with higher ownership and accountability. For example, if new employees get access to game rooms based on departments and roles, they can complete their product, process, HR, and compliance training much more smoothly. Similarly, gamification can transport new and remote employees into a virtual office environment and give them an experience of a typical workday. These experiences can be easily customized per the unique requirements of different companies and industries and enable them to meet with leaders and talk to managers to reduce the anxiety of joining a new workplace.
The gamification of the onboarding process can help solve three crucial issues with the workforce today:
- Attrition: Employees that feel welcome, engaged and aligned with the company's values tend to stay longer with the organization, and the first few days are crucial in forming this impression.
- Productivity: With preboarding interventions, employees join the company better equipped to become productive.
- Learning: Learning in a risk-free environment without the fear of failure can make them more comfortable and transform passive knowledge transfers into active interventions that require discovery, play, and exploration.
Leveraging a gamified onboarding process
Sandeep says that it is important not to focus on the hype surrounding gamification and fixate on purely poorly-implemented or stellar gamified onboarding processes. Gamified onboarding and learning go beyond points, badges, and leaderboards to implement evidence-based learning, stealth assessment, and non-obtrusive interventions.
The first step companies can take is to break down each skill and competency into an achievable task-based framework. This requires identifying specific practices of different roles, professionals, and individuals. The goal of effective onboarding also includes managers and organizations learning new employees better and enabling them to succeed.
Next, its implementation will involve the co-creation of unique content by different experts. This will first require companies to understand the problem or skill they are trying to assess, embed them in a game format and make inferences about its utility. The bottom line is not to mistake gamification as a means to compress or expedite the onboarding process but to make it more accessible, playful, and engaging.