How IT onboarding can can be crucial to retaining key workers [Q&A]

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The use of IT systems is vital to the success of any business, but if employees aren't properly instructed in the use of these systems it can prevent them from performing well.

This applies particularly to certain groups like older workers, returning parents and contractors. So, what can businesses do to ensure they properly harness the skills, knowledge and expertise held by these groups?

We spoke to Scott Little, chief revenue officer, at WalkMe, to discuss the scale of the problem and how improved onboarding processes can help.

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BN: Why are some groups particularly disadvantaged by poor onboarding?

SL: Too often, businesses take a one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding, failing to tailor to employees' individual roles or needs. For example, employees returning to the workplace may not have a basic level of familiarity with new technology, which could make the volume of 'catching up' expected of them is insurmountable. At the other end of the scale, specialists or contractors could perceive that the onboarding process isn't specific enough for the tasks they'll be working on, putting them -- and the business -- at an immediate disadvantage. By personalizing onboarding, businesses can get the most out of people and make software easy for employees to start using immediately. If they can do this, organizations can unlock the skills of a significant pool of talent.

BN: What's wrong with traditional onboarding processes and tools?

SL: The traditional onboarding process doesn't give employees everything they need to use all the technologies at their disposal to their fullest, and so in turn prevents organizations from accelerating their digital transformation journeys and reducing costs. Typically, onboarding is a point in time rather than an ongoing process that will give employees guidance, advice and opportunities to ask questions as they work with and learn about the business.

One major issue is that many businesses do not have the right insight about what onboarding should address. For instance, onboarding should cover the variety of applications employees will use every day. But if enterprises don't understand who is using what applications, how they’re being used, and the pain points and potential issues that harm the user experience, they might be setting employees up to fail from the beginning. If businesses can incorporate this intelligence into the onboarding process, they can avoid employees running out of patience, and reduce additional costly investments in workplace software.

BN: How important is it to tailor the process to different parts of the workforce?

SL: No two people are the same -- meaning learning styles, as well as jobs, won't be the same either. Tailored onboarding is crucial to prevent people from feeling frustrated, for instance because they can't understand and use the technology they’re given -- or alternatively, feel they are being held back.

Employees who come up against obstacles, whether because they don't understand certain applications work or can’t use it to its full potential, will quickly become demotivated and distracted, unable to complete tasks because they haven’t been given the guidance they need. If a business takes time to tailor the onboarding process, employees are more likely to exit the process feeling capable and productive.

BN: What is 'digital adoption' and what are its benefits?

SL: 'Digital adoption' means taking steps to reach a point where people can use digital tools as they are intended, and to their fullest extent. This might mean guiding experienced employees on how to better utilize applications they're already familiar with, or helping employees embrace new technology so they’re entirely self-sufficient and competent. You cannot take a piecemeal approach to digital adoption: to avoid any blind spots, it has to encompass all of the applications that employees are using on a regular basis, so that pain points can be identified, and solved.

Digital adoption is a critical component of today's workforce. The right approach to digital adoption will increase end-user adoption rates, realize the full value of organizations' investments in technology, and ensure employees can use all of the technology at their disposal effectively, without feeling they're banging against a brick wall.

BN: How does this benefit the employees and the organization?

SL: Ultimately, digital adoption allows people to use enterprise software to its fullest potential. Identifying and eliminating pain points in applications can help employees overcome challenges, work more effectively, and reduce the likelihood of frustration.

At a higher level, the right approach to digital adoption means that digital transformation projects are more likely to succeed without needing extra time or investment -- making it easier, faster and more cost-effective to meet strategic goals.

For employees, the primary benefit is that they can use the tools in front of them and aren’t left to sink or swim on their own. Having a workplace that puts people first and understands that challenges need solutions can make a big difference to how enjoyable and rewarding they find their jobs.

Image credit: Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock

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