The number of people who resigned from their current jobs to start new jobs in the United Kingdom reached a record 442,000 in the second quarter of this year. This employee exodus is part of the “Great Resignation” and represents the highest number of resignations in a single quarter in more than 20 years.

To slow the flood of people quitting, you need to allow them to grow within your organisation. One of the ways companies can do this is to offer more opportunities for upskilling and promotions from within.

When your company inboards current employees for new roles rather than hiring brand-new employees, it provides your employees with more opportunities for growth, which boosts job satisfaction and gives them more of an incentive to stick around.

What is inboarding?

Inboarding is the process of training and educating an established employee in the skills and processes they need to succeed within your organisation. Inboarding may include job training for a lateral move or a promotion.

Inboarding is particularly important when company culture is changing—either for an individual team member or the entire staff.

As an ongoing function of human resources (HR), inboarding is meant to improve employee engagement and employee retention. It also increases a team member’s “time-to-productivity”, or the amount of time a staff member needs to begin contributing to their new role within the company.

Your employees will likely need inboarding at some point along their career paths. Inboarding may be necessary when an employee:

  • Is promoted to a management position
  • Transitions from a non-leadership job to a leadership job
  • Makes a lateral move within a company
  • Returns from parental leave

But typically, inboarding includes one of three types of training executed by you, your team leads, and your company’s HR professionals:

  • Cross-training: Teaching employees a new skill set to fill in skills gaps
  • Upskilling: Teaching employees additional skills to use in their current positions and beyond
  • Retraining: Training employees for new subject matter, a new role, or new tools

Other inboarding components include employee orientation and communication, introductions to new training programmes, awareness of current training programmes, and more. 

Inboarding promotes equality among employees through opportunities for consistent growth. It also encourages all employees to take advantage of new opportunities and high achievers to challenge themselves further.

The difference between inboarding and the onboarding process

In some ways, employee onboarding and inboarding are the same overall process: providing employees with the support they need to succeed within their role at your company. The difference is when these types of trainings occur. 

Onboarding is a programme that helps new employees become familiar with your organisation and company. Effective onboarding includes induction to work, learning the responsibilities of their position, and performance expectations.

Inboarding is a continuing education programme designed for existing team members. Rather than focusing on new hires, inboarding deals with your current employees. If these employees change positions, get promoted, or relocate, inboarding aims to help familiarise them with the information and training they need to perform their jobs well.

If onboarding is like an inoculation, then inboarding is like booster shots.

Larry Cassidy, a senior HR consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, explains it with a timely analogy, “If onboarding is like an inoculation, then inboarding is like booster shots”. An onboarding programme sets your employees up for success from the start, and inboarding keeps them engaged and ready to tackle new challenges.

Looking for more resources on how to build an onboarding programme for your employees? Download our Onboarding Checklist.

Onboarding checklist

Is your onboarding plan on point?

4 benefits of inboarding

Even team members in senior positions will need inboarding—especially if their roles change. A seasoned employee can be knowledgeable about your company and products, but if they’re transferring departments—say from IT to sales—they’re going to need as much training and education as your employees in their first week or first year.

Similarly, an employee who’s been in their job for a while might also need inboarding—reskilling, in particular—to learn new software or any new job skills required to layer on their existing ones.

Inboarding is an important aspect of employee learning and development that reduces employee churn, allows for smoother transitions between roles, improves knowledge retention rates, and increases productivity.

1. Allows employees to transition smoothly

Inboarding makes it much easier for employees who are looking to change positions to transition smoothly whilst also improving satisfaction. Our learning in the flow of work study found that 39% were very satisfied and 55% were somewhat satisfied with the training they received when they transitioned into a new role. Clearly, a standardised inboarding process makes a difference.

But for an inboarding plan to work effectively, you will have to invest in it and work to create the necessary training materials for your team members. It’s important that you’re able to replicate these plans and adjust them as needed, so it’s wise to create a template to work from.

Effective inboarding plans should include:

  • Day one administrative tasks and necessary paperwork
  • Detailed job and work environment descriptions
  • Comprehensive lists of day-to-day tasks and workflows
  • Roadmaps and KPI metrics to advance within the company
  • Processes for filling open positions

Your plans need to be consistent so you’re able to adjust the job details and apply them to anyone entering a new position. Other processes that can help you execute a smooth transition:

  • Project work. Give inboarding employees an on-the-job project. If an inboarding employee needs more experience in a particular area in order to succeed, giving them a project can help them gain the necessary skills for the role.
  • Meeting of the managers. Connect the inboarding employee’s previous and new managers so the former manager is able to share insights about the employee. Create a standardised checklist of items that should be covered.
  • 90-day roadmap. Develop a roadmap for the employee’s first 90 days with specific inboarding priorities. 
  • Team profiles. Create short bios and headshots of team members to help inboarding employees get to know their new colleagues more quickly.
  • Mentors. Assign a mentor to help your inboarding employee gain departmental knowledge and insight and troubleshoot any issues the employee may have. 

Inboarding allows you to create a plan for promoting from within by including all the necessary training, education, and hands-on experience employees will need to succeed in—and smoothly transition into—a new position.

2. Improves knowledge retention through collaboration

During the inboarding process, employee collaboration with internal subject-matter experts (SMEs) can help L&D teams create engaging and memorable learning experiences while also preserving company knowledge and fostering a culture of continuous learning.

Collaborative learning decentralises the training and education process and creates a more democratic learning environment. Collaborative learning platforms allow anyone in your organisation to create educational content, so the responsibility isn’t completely on the L&D team.

Inboarding team members can familiarise themselves with the different types of training and courses your company offers—particularly courses that have been authored by internal SMEs. Once these employees have accumulated enough of their own subject knowledge, they’ll be more likely to contribute to the training materials themselves. Over time, you build a robust catalogue of learning resources that keeps all that hard-earned, valuable company knowledge in-house. 

3. Increases productivity

When staff members are trained properly and apply their skills effectively, your business can thrive—but most companies lose a significant chunk of their productivity to inefficient organisational processes, wasted time, and an anti-innovation mentality. However, upskilling, or inboarding, is responsible for a 6-12% increase in productivity.

Provide opportunities for your employees to learn, grow, and work their way up in your company, and they will repay you by doing their best (and most efficient) work. In an extensive study conducted by Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, researchers concluded that happy employees are 13% more productive.

It’s clear that if you invest in your employees, they will do the same for you and your company.

4. Reduces employee churn

A 2020 survey by UiPath revealed that 80% of global workers believe their productivity would improve if they learned new skills. When employees gain new skills, the employee experience improves. They become more productive and engaged in their work. And when they’re more productive and engaged, they’re less likely to quit.

Employees in that same study said they are worried about becoming obsolete. In fact, a third of office workers worldwide fear their current positions will advance further than their current skill level, and 83% say they would feel more secure if their organisation offered additional training to learn new skills.

Workers in the UK want reskilling: about 94% say they lack the full set of skills they will need to perform their jobs well in 2030. McKinsey research also shows that, in order to keep up with their positions, 25.5 million Brits should be upskilling, and 5 million should be retrained altogether.

Bottom line: Inboarding helps reduce employee turnover rates by investing in people you’re familiar with and who already have ample knowledge about your company and its products.

Tips for a strong inboarding process

When you’re preparing to inboard your team members, you should make sure they’re not caught off-guard by some of the changes they may experience. Here are a few things to look out for:

  • New or different relationships. If they’re inboarding into a leadership role, they may have to interact differently with people they know in a peer capacity.
  • New or different expectations. Transitioning to a new role often means increased pressure on employees.
  • New or different rules. An employee’s idea of “normal” may completely change if they move into a leadership role. For example, they may not be able to socialise with other employees as they did prior to inboarding.

Meeting with team members to communicate openly about their development, and creating an action plan with them, helps provide the structure they need to take on new responsibilities and roles within your organisation. And you can do that through inboarding.

Offer training to every employee

Your inboarding employee may know the company well, but they still need guidance about their new position within it. Schedule formal and informal evaluations with them to discuss their performance and the expectations of their new role.

Every good inboarding programme should include training pathways for all positions—not just those on a managerial track. These cross-department trainings can include certification programmes, shadowing mentors or members of a different team, and more. Exposure and immersion can help your employees discover additional talents that they can—and your company can—benefit from. 

Prioritise team unification

Camaraderie is important to any team but especially to those who are integrating new members into the group. The best (and fastest) inboarding programmes should incorporate opportunities for employees to create connections across teams and organisational levels.

When your team members participate in activities outside of work—meeting for after-hours drinks, co-workers’ birthdays, game nights, and the like—they can have longer, more meaningful conversations. These conversations can not only lead to deeper employee connections but also expose otherwise unexposed employees to opportunities that could utilise their talents.

A global research report from RingCentral reveals that employees who work at companies that promote a “connected culture” say they have better emotional well-being (55%) than employees of companies that don’t prioritise team connection (48%).

Inboarding is more important now than ever before

Of employees in the UK, 56% said they would leave a job if it didn’t offer training opportunities. 

When more than half of the country’s workforce is prepared to walk out of a job, it should send a strong message to all organisational leadership teams: Inboarding is important.

Inboarding should begin and end with you, as you will facilitate the process. As an L&D leader, you should lay out the plan and expectations and provide structure and encouragement for all participants.

  • Assure employees that you don’t expect immediate success. Just because your team members understand your workplace culture, company policies, and employee handbook doesn’t mean they’ll immediately understand their new position and all it entails. Make sure they know they’re not being penalised if they’re not a first-day success and that you’ve accounted for a learning curve.
  • Encourage one-on-ones. On their start date, have your inboarded staff member schedule one-on-one meetings with each person on their new team so they can get to know each other a bit, exchange insights and first impressions, and go over any questions or concerns on either side.
  • Make room for adjustments. Your inboarded employee may have to treat their fellow employees in a different way if they’ve moved into a leadership role. Make sure they’re giving their team members time and space to adjust during the transitional time.

In addition to inboarding, collaborative LMS platforms like 360Learning help L&D teams provide the structure and consistency needed for employee onboarding. They also help team members utilise cross-department SME experience for peer learning and internal upskilling. Ready to get started inboarding? Speak to one of our experts today.