In a market in which skills are in short supply and where millennials now dominate the new generation of South Africa’s workforce, it is critical that businesses manage the training and onboarding functions effectively. Failure to address key requirements and neglect specific considerations could cost employers dearly, warn HR experts.
While training is focused on empowering the individual worker with the skills and capability to do successfully perform their jobs – and deliverables, onboarding is about how a new worker is introduced into a business and how they integrate into a staff compliment.
Ian McAlister, GM: HR and HCM solutions at services provider CRS Technologies, says companies often overlook the importance of onboarding – falling into the trap of rather centering their attention on training and recruitment.
In fact, what happens after a person is hired and actually begins their work is where the HR responsibility becomes even more relevant and important.
“There are a number of ‘dos and don’ts’ that businesses must be mindful of when it comes to onboarding. Aspects like mentorship, the value of existing employee input, planning and proactive communication are the hallmarks of effective onboarding,” says McAlister.
CRS Technologies advise decision makers to familiarise themselves with a list of what to consider and what to avoid when it comes to onboarding.
“Consider technical requirements for setting up workstations, including security, infrastructure … and introduce the company and all employees effectively, foster a clear and effective channel of communication and opportunity to interact,” McAlister adds.
It is infinitely important to familiarise new employees with the company and provide them with all the necessary information about policy, rules, culture and management.
HR specialists at CRS Technologies also stress the importance of feedback and of regular contact and checking with new employees. Delays in communication, unfulfilled tasks and missed deadlines could be misconstrued as apathy from either side.

The millennial factor
In as much as skills acquisition and retention sets competitors apart, the ability of businesses to attract the new age, ‘always-on’ and digital worker is widely considered a game-changer.
“Like it or not, Millennials are now starting to take up corporate positions. They come with their own quirks which means a slightly different approach is often required. Their onboarding process can yield fertile ground for instilling fresh passion in the business and can chart a long term career trajectory with the organisation,” says McAlister.
The best approach when it comes to dealing with and recruiting millennials is to consider mobility, work/life balance, mentorship not dictatorship management style, and emphasise career development.
Ultimately, the advice by CRS Technologies is for businesses to consider onboarding as a highly strategic process that should last at least a year to ensure high retention.
“Many companies approach onboarding as something that stops when all paperwork is signed and the employee’s first day is complete. We in HR think we’re done, but the reality is we’re just getting started,” McAlister says.