Behind the Scenes: Dow’s Onboarding Strategy
When we think of onboarding plans, we often envision a checklist of steps to support a new hire as he/she begins their new role. But we’re seeing more and more companies ditching their checklists and tweaking their onboarding strategies to focus more on making an employee feel truly integrated into their new workplace. It’s a mind shift that directly correlates to better retention.
Talent is Transforming recently spoke with Tammy Sherman, Dow’s North America Talent Acquisition Leader, for a podcast about the company’s StartGreat program and how it tracks success and uses data to keep its talent engaged and aligned with business goals.
New approaches to onboarding
Tammy says Dow, which delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers all over the world, has a long history of onboarding new hires quickly and successfully, but always looks for ways to improve and found one in the integration piece of their onboarding program(s).
“How do we get them up to speed very quickly so they not only feel like a valued member of the organization, but they also get support from the people around them and can produce more quickly,” Tammy told us.
The company’s StartGreat program was crafted as an answer to that question. It first eliminated the standard hiring and onboarding checklists and leveraged technology to automate emails to people involved in the recruiting and hiring process. So a hiring manager may get a note that says, “Now it’s time to review goals with your new employee and explain the process to them.”
Dow’s new hires also get paired with an integration coach, who guides them through the ins and outs of working at Dow. The integration coach is usually a colleague who has requested advanced training on how to help employees feel like they’re part of a team.
The StartGreat program also involved bringing together all the technologies within HR like payroll and benefits. That way the process of setting up how the new hire was going to be paid is now part of that onboarding process.
Is this working?
Tammy says Dow conducts routine surveys to get feedback from employees on how things are going. The first survey comes 30 days in, asking new hires to provide feedback on the onboarding process.
The 6-month survey is a little more critical with questions about whether that new employee feels integrated into the organization, has their new manager talked about their professional goals, and how often they’ve met with their integration coach.
Tammy says the most recent survey resulted in a 4.2 out of 5, which the team was pleased with but because she and her team always strive for ways to increase engagement, realizes there’s room to improve.
How data helps with the war for talent
Tammy says one of the challenges of using tools or solutions in talent acquisition is that they’re always changing. She leans on the company’s digital team for guidance and is also a fan of simple, free tools like state labor data.
“When comparing strategic staffing plans and looking at what the businesses need, [state data] should be a go-to,” she says.
Dow relies heavily on its own survey data, as well as “time to fill” and “time to onboard” metrics, to align its strategic HR programs with its business objectives. That data is collected monthly and shared with HR and hiring managers. The company also conducts surveys on how well its recruiting teams are doing in the eyes of hiring managers, asking questions like, “How well did the recruiter explain the hiring process to you?”
That kind of survey allows the company to continuously look for gaps in its hiring process. Tammy says the company is scoring a 4 out of 5 on a quarterly basis.
Three action items for HR leaders
“We had many people tell us the StartGreat program was just too complicated,” she says. Now, due to its success and ease of use, “We’re looking to implement it more widely.”
“It sounds simple, but we’re all humans, we all want personal relationships. This helps build that way before they even start,” she adds.