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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2016

Millennials Are Changing Employee Onboarding

Mortgage companies must adapt training programs to the needs of a new generation

When it comes to work culture, millennials — individuals in their 20s and early 30s — march to their own generational beat. They are accustomed to being constantly connected and used to immediate feedback, a byproduct of growing up in the digital era.

They bring a quick and vibrant rhythm to their professional environment. They are digitally native, often preferring to communicate via hangouts, chats and instant messaging rather than via e-mail or phone conversations. The communication style used in text chats is a good example of the millennial pace: short, laconic and efficient — i.e., bite-sized.

Employee onboarding and training practices that have been in use for decades are now becoming obsolete as technology advances and the shift to a millennial workforce plays out. Existing practices may still be relevant for some employees. For a growing percentage of the millennial workforce, however, traditional, paper-driven onboarding practices and training have become far less relevant — and even a hindrance.

When considering the onboarding process for new employees, mortgage originators and their companies must look to the future and not the past. Today; most onboarding processes consist of new hires filling out forms and reading an employee handbook that someone wrote or photocopied years ago in some back office. Some companies may have taken the time to develop a corporate training video or  webinar that they require new employees to watch at some point during their first 90 days of employment, but few companies have put a lot of thought into what a new employee goes through on those first few days of employment.

People want to know what they are doing right and wrong, and it is much easier to notify and correct at the beginning rather than the end.

Without a well-planned onboarding process, employees are likely to be bored by their new jobs before they really start working, and that only fosters negative impressions and increased turnover. The onboarding process doesn’t have to be longer; it just needs to have some thought, relativity and immediacy put into it to make it effective. Training also should be delivered via technology that millennials know, understand and are comfortable using.

Be interesting, not boring

Keeping the on-boarding process interesting means you can still cover the necessities, but don’t start out with insurance enrollment or end with your company’s social media policy. Companies spend an incredible amount of time attracting the perfect employees, but spend little, if any, time helping them acclimate to the company and the culture.

People start at a company because of the position, pay and company focus, but they stay because of the culture. As part of the employee-training process, include videos from staff talking about the culture of the company and what they enjoy most about working there. Discuss company activities, fundraisers and community events. Many companies spend too much time attracting candidates and conducting the transaction of hiring them, and not enough time ensuring those new hires are successfully onboarded.

Put yourself in your new hires’ shoes and think about what they need to succeed in a new business and social environment. On the first day, make sure new hires know whom they report to and for what, and give them an understanding of what the company culture is all about and why they should want to be a part of it.

Go digital and interactive

At a Glance

From the October 2014 White House report, 15 Economic Facts About Millennials

“Millennials, the cohort of Americans born between 1980 and the mid-2000s, are the largest generation in the U.S., representing one-third of the total U.S. population in 2013. With the first cohort of millennials only in their early thirties, most members of this generation are at the beginning of their careers and so will be an important engine of the economy in the decades to come. The significance of millennials extends beyond their numbers. This is the first generation to have had access to the Internet during their formative years. Millennials also stand out because they are the most diverse and educated generation to date: 42 percent identify with a race or ethnicity other than non-Hispanic white, around twice the share of the baby-boomer generation when they were the same age. About 61 percent of adult millennials have attended college, whereas only 46 percent of the baby boomers did so.”


Millennials may not take kindly to reading sheaves of printed material as part of a new-job orientation. When millennials want to learn something new, they go online, searching YouTube or Google.

As part of the onboarding process, it’s important to have a plan that provides millennials with easy access to online resources and delivers content through easy-to-use formats and platforms. There are plenty of options out there to keep your training interesting. New hires of any generation will engage more deeply with an interactive approach.

Create an onboarding process that is hands-on, experiential and even virtual. Real-time learning — whether it’s face-to-face or online — appeals to millennials because they are community driven and yearn to be surrounded by people who can help them learn. Really, when you think about it; almost anyone learns better this way.

Be sure to create an onboarding team to help new hires settle in, and provide introductions and contact information. When creating this team, think of a new hire’s direct supervisor as a coach and mentor who is there to share his or her career experience and to be a cheerleader for the new employee. Peers with experience in the new hire’s field or job function, even if they have only been on the job a few months, also can be a huge help in the onboarding process. Finally, an online social forum that allows people to interact can be a very effective tool for coaching and mentoring.

Utilize appealing technology

Millennials tend to be proficient with and adapt easily to new technology, perhaps more than any other generation — given they grew up in the throes of the unfolding digital age. This is why training new employees on mobile devices can be extremely effective: It’s a logical application of technology that millennials know and understand.

When presented with this high-tech approach, millennials are far more apt to embrace the training, which they might have otherwise resisted, if not outright shunned, had it been delivered via more traditional methods. Millennials will engage sooner with tech-driven processes, therefore increasing the odds that they will stick with their new jobs and be more productive.

Millennials want to be part of the process, they want their voices heard, and they want to collaborate rather than blindly follow orders. Training new employees with this in mind creates engaged workers from the start. Mobile-based training solutions facilitate this process by allowing new hires to send messages directly from the mobile device at any time during the training process.

For example, say a new employee watches a training video and is befuddled by one aspect of it. That individual can send a message, via the mobile device, directly to the manager, supervisor or executive charged with answering such questions. A dialogue begins, and collaboration might even ensue. This is on-the-job learning, and it is a powerful approach to training new employees.

Useful feedback matters

Feedback should be made early, often and informally. Millennials, not unlike many people in general, can be hypersensitive to criticism, so keep the emphasis on what they can do to improve, not what they did wrong.

Feedback is critical for driving job satisfaction and success. Many managers are afraid to be transparent and share news, whether it is good or bad. If company leaders provide frank and constructive feedback, everyone below them in the company hierarchy will be inclined to follow their lead and do the same thing.

People want to know what they are doing right and wrong, and it is much easier to notify and correct at the beginning rather than the end. If feedback is a normal process and not an exception, it becomes just that — the norm.

From day one, millennial new hires will be thinking about what they can accomplish over their tenure with the company. So you need to sell them on the career opportunity, from the very beginning. Help them create a plan so that they know that they have a future to grow with the company and something to focus on moving forward.

• • •

Throughout their lives, millennials have been immersed in communication — whether in person, via text messaging or through social media. They also appreciate structure — having grown up in a world of managed play dates, school activities and education planning. They are used to having adult role models help them navigate the world. They want bosses who will be their coaches and mentors.

Millennials are committed to learning, want to learn quickly and tend to ask a lot of questions. This means they want to continue learning even after their initial training has ended. With proper onboarding that is reinforced by a clear structure, collaboration and current communications technology — all focused on integrating new hires into the company’s culture — companies can create work environments that are rich in on-going learning and coaching opportunities.


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