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Helen Marshall


Head of Learning

Read more from Helen Marshall

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Your onboarding process might be failing your ED&I strategy – here’s why.

A robust learning and development programme is vital in improving staff retention.

ESG strategies have seen remarkable growth over the past decade. And while some attention has been paid to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion quotas were being met as part of these corporate strategies, ED&I is now widely accepted as a strategic necessity that goes far beyond simply ticking boxes.

In fact, ED&I has become key to the very fabric of the onboarding process. The importance placed on ED&I at this early stage is twofold. Firstly, it provides existing staff and hiring managers with the tools to welcome new starters of all backgrounds in the most inclusive and supportive way possible. Secondly, it ensures new employees are immersed within the company’s values from the very start of their journey.

ED&I has become key to the very fabric of the onboarding process.

Let’s expand on this. Hiring managers would be better equipped to remove any unconscious bias from their recruitment process. They can do this by ensuring that the language in job adverts and applications is more accessible to a wider range of candidates, who represent varied skillsets and neurological profiles.

The benefit of this approach is that adjustments can be made at the interview stage, and additional support can be provided to ensure candidates are able to put forward their best self and that no good talent is missed.

Furthermore, companies are increasingly assigning newcomers with a ‘buddy’ to support them during their induction period. If these buddies undergo proper coaching, they can provide a more inclusive, welcoming experience when onboarding new people.

For the second point, a robust L&D programme is vital in creating a sense of belonging with new employees during those crucial first days and weeks. One of the most straightforward ways of getting a new employee to feel ‘stuck in’ is maintaining communication from the point of job offer, as well as training and orientation programmes.

This approach – when enacted from the moment a job offer has been made through to their first day at work – has been shown to drastically improve staff retention.

A robust L&D programme has been shown to drastically improve staff retention.

Admin tasks like getting new staff set up on employee platforms or providing equipment should happen without delay. Many of us have been in a situation where on day one your login details don’t even work and you spend hours on the phone to IT or a global service desk to get it sorted. Not a great first impression.

New starters want (and need) immediate access to company policies, internal communication avenues, and training. They’ll also have sight of events they will be invited to, all while learning about the implementation of the company culture, values and ED&I approaches.

The key ingredient here is inclusion – when individuals feel appreciated and welcomed, their investment in the company increases. This sense of belonging is particularly beneficial to employees returning into the workforce after a career hiatus, or for those joining from a different industry, region or country.

Remember, a company platform may be the closest thing to being part of a community for remote-based employees as they settle into a new life.

Forward-thinking organisations are incorporating engaging, bite-sized learning content into their strategies, covering topics like identifying micro-aggression in the workplace.

They’ve understood the importance of acknowledging and communicating on these important and sometimes delicate issues, as well as embracing the profound impact that this has on employee wellbeing and inclusion.

Inclusion is key – when individuals feel appreciated and welcomed, their investment in the company increases.

Fighting discrimination at work can even go so far as to include subjects like breaking the bias around menopause and making the workplace a more welcoming place for people experiencing symptoms.

For employee satisfaction to remain high from day one, having a space to form more remedial bonds with colleagues will certainly help foster a sense of belonging and psychological safety.

Employees who are able to put their ED&I training into practice,  will likely feel more confident in using the most appropriate and inclusive language during these conversations – helping to make discussions that are as constructive and respectful of others as possible.

Learning needs to be a continuous undertaking – not just something to get out of the way before the ‘real’ job begins.

While training during the onboarding process is key, businesses and L&D teams must remember that learning needs to be a continuous undertaking – not just something to get out of the way before the ‘real’ job begins.

For example, issues like LGBTQ+ inclusion and racial equality matter all year around, not just during Pride and Black History Month. Open and educational conversations around discrimination should be taking place regularly.

These small initiatives should help create long-term, structural changes helping to prevent problematic behaviour and foster shared ED&I values within the internal company culture. A multi-pronged approach to ED&I is needed to yield the best results but, providing continuous training can have a real positive impact both on existing staff and on newcomers during their onboarding period.

Author Profile Picture
Helen Marshall

Head of Learning

Read more from Helen Marshall

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