Middle market companies have very few positions that can withstand a lull in productivity while a new employee learns specific duties, the firm's procedures and the company culture. Even more ominous is the possibility that a new employee washes out of the organization within 12 months because of failing to meet management's expectations, or because management didn't help the employee become sufficiently able or comfortable in the position. Such failures during the onboarding process are glaring in two ways: First, they are particularly costly to midsized firms, which have to spend to replace the jettisoned employee. Secondly, they are usually avoidable.

A Better Onboarding Process: Shorten the Learning Curve and Motivate New Hires Through Technology

To maximize the effectiveness of the onboarding process, many companies devote considerable human capital to training, mentoring, peer-to-peer relationship building, and managerial consultation and review. Technology, too, can help beyond its traditional role of streamlining the many administrative tasks that come with onboarding new personnel.

By leveraging technology more deeply, middle market firms can bring recent hires up to full productivity in less time and turn them into engaged, loyal employees. Here are a few ways to accomplish this:

  • Develop video content to build a wider perspective. Nadia Gruzd of health care recruitment firm All Med Search explains that, in the onboarding process, "when managers communicate the 'big picture,' new employees can understand how their own roles support the organization's goals." That communication, however, doesn't need to be in person to be effective. Ben Martinez, VP of human resources for HireVue, a video-based recruiting firm, notes how "video can expose employees to all aspects of your company. Create a new-hire playbook, and pack it full of videos from various leaders and experts who talk about your company, [its] products and [its] markets."
  • Strengthen social bonds early on with the help of video. All new employees at HireVue receive a welcome video message from the CEO, who then asks that they also create a welcome message for other employees to see. Once that's done, new hires can access the welcome videos of everyone else in the organization. This familiarizes employees with one another in a no-stress environment, exposes new hires to various functions within the company and creates a shared experience that promotes bonding across all departments.
  • Use video content to deliver effective training. At Skillsoft, an enterprise e-learning provider, new sales reps are brought up to proficiency through "blended learning," which is designed to accomplish knowledge transfer with a strong emphasis on skill development. The company explains how, for new hires, "a single formal event without proper support and follow-up activities endangers the transfer of knowledge and skills into their sales role." In light of this, the company films simulated scenarios that reinforce key concepts, values and behaviors to more quickly prepare new employees to act confidently and succeed. Along with these on-demand videos, Skillsoft also provides links to videos by various subject-matter experts outside the firm to help round out new hires' initial education.
  • Encourage employees to share experiences through various channels. Whether it's a virtual meeting tool, a company chat forum or simply a Twitter discussion grouped around a hashtagged phrase, a company's deployment of a tech-based communication channel helps new employees feel welcome and valued in a short amount of time, which is proven to reduce turnover rates.

Do midmarket companies have an advantage over enterprises when it comes to a smoother onboarding process? Let us know what you think by commenting below.

Rob Carey is an NCMM contributor and a features writer who has focused on the business-to-business niche since 1992. He spent his first 15 years at Nielsen Business Media, rising from editorial intern to editorial director. Since then, he has been the principal of New York–based Meetings & Hospitality Insight, working with large hospitality brands in addition to various media outlets.