What Is Inboarding? Everything You Need to Know

What Is Inboarding? Everything You Need to Know

In today’s competitive business landscape, organizations continually strive to attract and retain top talent. As a result, the focus on employee onboarding has intensified, emphasizing its critical role in shaping a new hire’s journey within the company. While traditional onboarding processes have long been recognized for their importance, a new approach has emerged to revolutionize the employee integration experience – inboarding. 

Inboarding goes beyond mere orientation and induction, aiming to foster meaningful connections, accelerate productivity, and drive long-term engagement. This article delves into the concept of inboarding, exploring its benefits, key elements, and strategies while shedding light on how organizations can harness its potential to create a dynamic and thriving workforce.

What Is Inboarding?

Inboarding is an important component of the learning and development strategy. It focuses on creating a positive and inclusive experience for new hires, allowing them to quickly integrate into the organization, understand its culture, values, and objectives, and build strong connections with colleagues and key stakeholders. Inboarding aims to accelerate the learning curve, enhance productivity, and foster long-term engagement by providing ongoing support, resources, and opportunities for growth throughout an employee’s onboarding journey. It recognizes that successful onboarding is not a one-time event but a continuous process that extends beyond the initial few weeks, ensuring a smooth transition and effective integration into the company’s ecosystem. 

Inboarding vs Onboarding

At face value, inboarding and onboarding share many similarities. By definition, both provide employees with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their new roles. Structurally, inboarding involves many of the same steps as onboarding, including the transfer of knowledge, shadowing, real-time training, and mentorship.

However, inboarding helps seasoned team members build on their knowledge and skills to prepare for the next steps within the organization. Because existing employees are already familiar with the company’s culture and general operations, inboarding can be focused on providing cross-training, upskilling, and program awareness.

Onboarding, on the other hand, is aimed at preparing new employees for their journey within an organization that is brand-new to them. 

FocusPrimarily orientation and administrative processesHolistic integration, cultural immersion, and development
DurationTypically limited to the initial few weeksExtended process that continues beyond the early stages
EngagementInitial introduction to the company and its policiesEmphasis on building connections and fostering engagement
IntegrationBasic introduction to the job role and responsibilitiesDeep understanding of company culture and values
Learning SupportLimited support and resources provided during onboardingOngoing learning and development opportunities
NetworkingLimited opportunities for networking and relationship-buildingEncourages building relationships across the organization
GoalFacilitate a smooth transition into the organizationCreate a sense of belonging and maximize long-term success

Use Cases for Inboarding

As employees grow within an organization, and as organizations themselves change, employers can support their team members through transitions with inboarding. Here are some of the most significant inboarding use cases for organizations. 

  • Transitioning to a new position or team: When employees shift into new roles or switch to a new department, inboarding helps them ease into the new working environment and ensure they have the skillset needed to excel in their new position. 
  • Receiving a promotion: Inboarding can support employees as they acclimate to their added responsibilities, especially if they are stepping into new managerial responsibilities or if they are expected to train their replacements. 
  • Change management: Organizational changes more often than not cause stress and turbulence for the workforce. Building inboarding into your change management process helps keep employees engaged through sometimes uncomfortable change and learn the skills needed to embrace the future. 
  • Moving to hybrid and remote work: When shifting operations to remote or hybrid working environments, inboarding provides employees with a strong foundation via remote training and continuous communication and support. Digital adoption platforms can be incredibly helpful in these cases as well.
  • Workplace culture changes: Changing culture presents employees with a shift in the foundation of their relationship with the company. This makes onboarding and acclimating to the new vision and core values vital for maintaining employee engagement and productivity.
  • New technology: Employees use a variety of software and other technologies to do their jobs. When new tech is rolled out and team members are expected to adapt immediately, inboarding can help them learn how to use the new tools and stay productive.

Pro Tip: Investing in digital technologies such as Whatfix digital adoption platform helps manage tech changes efficiently. DAPs support inboarding by providing in-app guidance on different enterprise applications through a variety of formats, such as step-by-step walk-throughs, balloon tips, videos, and written guides. It also tracks the progress of your change initiative and gathers feedback from your team. 

Create personalized learning & training flows for your enterprise apps with Whatfix

The Importance of Inboarding

Inboarding is an essential part of establishing continuous learning and employee development initiatives in the workplace. This process improves the quality of employee work, conserves continuity across departments, and reduces costs for the organization. 

1. Reduces turnover

Inboarding provides employees with the support and community they need to stay with an organization longer. In today’s economy, employees are likely to leave when they don’t feel their needs are being met, costing businesses in terms of money and productivity in the long run. Supporting employees through L&D programs, including inboarding makes them feel engaged and willing to stay and grow within the company. 

An effective learning and development program fosters an environment that makes employees feel connected to the organization’s mission, and valued, and leads them to continue pursuing their career goals within the company. Reduced employee turnover lower costs for an organization and preserves the continuity of information and workflows.

2. Smoother transitions

With a structured inboarding process, employees can smoothly transition into new roles and adapt to changes within the organization. Inboarding plan lays out clear job descriptions and expectations, including everyday duties, future goals, and straightforward transition processes. Such a plan ensures that employees don’t feel like they’ve been left to figure things out on their own. Instead, they feel confident and eager to forge ahead. 

By enacting a well-structured inboarding plan and easing employees through transitions with plenty of support, they become more comfortable and productive in new situations quickly.

3. Improves productivity

Implementing effective L&D initiatives, including inboarding programs, helps employees acclimate quickly to new responsibilities and internal change so they can hit the ground running. Inboarding also shows an organization’s commitment to investing in employees’ career development and overall well-being. This level of investment promotes employee experience, which in turn leads employees to become more productive and committed to doing high-quality work. 

4. Boosts employee engagement

Employees who receive the support they need to perform their duties tend to be more satisfied and engaged in their work. A strong inboarding program provides employees transitioning into new roles and working environments with clear expectations, proper training and feedback, and an incorporation of personal career goals to maintain an engaging and supportive environment. 

Key Components of an Inboarding Program

Inboarding programs can be as unique as the organizations that create them, but there are several key components that must be included when developing an inboarding plan.

1. Preperation

Prior to the inboarding process, managers responsible for inboarding must identify all the requirements that the team member is expected to learn through the transition. Whether this means learning new technology or adapting to change management, preparation is key. Ultimately, managers and employees must have a clear idea of what the employees’ new roles and responsibilities entail and a designated transition plan for inboarding.

2. Orientation

Even though internal hires are well-oriented to the larger organization and its goals, inboarding needs to include an orientation as a starting point. During employee orientation, employees must be provided with an overview of their new roles or organizational changes as well as any necessary information about their new working environment. For instance, if they are moving to a new department, orientation must include a rundown of that department’s purpose, organization, and goals. 

3. Training

After orientation, employees must also go through in-depth training relevant to the change at hand. This training can occur in whatever format fits best, whether that entails eLearning, on-the-job training, traditional classroom lessons, or any other employee training methods

4. Follow up and evaluation

Throughout and after training, employees and their managers must have opportunities to provide feedback on progress and assess further needs. Employees must be provided with ongoing support to help them fully settle into their new roles or organizational changes.

5. Communication

Providing lines for clear and efficient communication is critical to the success of inboarding programs. Employees must receive clear and consistent information about their expectations in addition to timely feedback from managers. They should also be encouraged to communicate with their managers about any obstacles they run into along the way. 

6. Alignment

Inboarding programs must be aligned with the organization’s larger values and goals, to help employees understand how they factor into the big picture. This incorporates more of a sense of purpose into team members’ day-to-day activities to further build on employee engagement. 

How to Develop an Inboarding Strategy for Your Workplace

Inboarding strategies may vary based on the needs of the organization or the transition they are intended to address, but there are several steps that must be included across the board.

1. Define the program’s aims and objectives

As with any large-scale project, developing an effective inboarding process requires forethought and preparation. It may go through several iterations before reaching peak effectiveness, improving employee productivity and retention for your organization. 

Assemble a team to develop this program by establishing clear paths for internal mobility across job families and levels. If possible, utilize digital training platforms and learning management systems to build out consistent, ready-to-use training materials.

2. Define standard definitions of different job levels

To support employees as they achieve their goals within an organization, it is necessary to establish straightforward definitions of different job levels within the organization and establish the competencies required to move between those levels. These definitions include the required knowledge, skills, and proficiencies required at each level. 

If the change that inboarding is addressing has more to do with the company’s culture or organizational structure, clear definitions of those changes and related employee expectations are also necessary.

3. Include knowledge transfer and training pathways

Once the definitions are set, set pathways for knowledge transfer and training that support employees as they move into their new job levels, duties, or roles. These pathways are curated to match the specific competencies outlined by those standardized definitions of different job levels, changes, and expectations. 

4. Practice employee recognition

When learning and development programs incorporate checkpoints, leaderboards, and other opportunities for employee recognition, employees are much more engaged throughout the process. This leads to improved learning outcomes and employee experience, contributing to the ultimate success of employees and improving the efficiency and quality of their work. 

5. Offer and welcome employee feedback

An environment that supports continual employee growth requires the collection and analysis of feedback from both the employees and their managers. Employees require specific and detailed feedback on their performance to continually improve. Build regular opportunities for feedback and recognition into the inboarding process, and be sure to include both constructive criticism and acknowledgment of their successes. 

Enable continuous employee learning, development, and support with Whatfix

Inboarding is a continuous process that facilitates employees’ growth within an organization. This process provides employees with support as they acquire the knowledge, skills, and training they need to take on new responsibilities and move through changes as they progress and grow with the business. 

Implementing a digital adoption platform such as Whatfix can help L&D teams build effective inboarding experiences by incorporating walkthroughs, task lists, and more directly into enterprise applications. This helps users effortlessly switch from one tool to another, adapt any application to its full potential, and receive the continuous support they need to accept organizational change. 

Schedule a free demo with us to learn more about Whatfix DAP!

What Is Whatfix?
Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that provides organizations with a no-code editor to create in-app guidance on any application that looks 100% native. With Whatfix, create interactive walkthroughs, product tours, task lists, smart tips, field validation, self-help wikis, hotspots, and more. Understand how users are engaging with your applications with advanced product analytics.
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