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Guest blog by Jessica Thiefels.

It could take a new hire eight months to become fully productive in their role, suggests Harvard Business Review, which can seem to be a long—not to mention, costly—amount of time. When you factor in the median cost-per-hire of $4,129, it’s easy to see that simply getting someone up and running is costly—not counting the time it took to interview and find the right person. This is where better onboarding comes into play.

Employees who are onboarded effectively tend to feel 18 percent more committed to the organization versus those who go through a sub-par onboarding experience, suggests data from BambooHR. What’s more, they feel 91 percent more connected to the work and 89 percent more integrated into the culture.

While there are many ways to improve a poor onboarding experience, one strategy to enhance is collaboration: including the entire team as part of the experience. The benefits of collaborative onboarding stretch across all tiers of the company, from the executive leadership to the new hire. Here are three reasons why this model should be part of your own approach to onboarding.

1. Collaborative Tools Allow for Expedited and Efficient Processes

From virtual communication to cloud-based project management, creating a more collaborative onboarding experience with digital tools streamlines and accelerates the learning curve. Not only does this make it more convenient for new hires to get answers fast, but making documents and resources available allows the new hire to get what he or she needs quickly and easily.

Elena Carstoiu, the COO and co-founder of Hubgets, explains: “I think the transfer of company knowledge is improved in a collaborative onboarding environment … New employees learn the ropes of their new job faster than ever because the technology provides them with instant access to work information while helping them bond with the team.”

The benefits, explain Carstoiu, extend to management as well: “This means a minimized induction effort and a faster, cost-effective onboarding process.”

2. Work Culture Becomes More Focused on Community

When your onboarding is collaborative, it exposes both the new and current employees to cross-departmental voices. This breaks down silos, emphasizes team connections, and fosters mentorship and camaraderie.

For example, the online retailer Zappos understands that, while technical aspects of onboarding matter, “the culture piece is even more important.” Their training is structured for new hires to build relational connections and identify with the organization’s core values. This immersion program unites the trainees with co-workers, despite their varied roles or functions.

Zappos explains, “It’s interesting to watch the class bond. In four short weeks, they go from complete strangers to friends. The bonds that form can last for years, even as folks move on to their respective departments.”

3. Connection Fuels Innovation in All Members of Your Team

Each team member is a source of fresh, creative ideas, and collaborative onboarding can teach new hires to unleash their own innovative ideas without fear. Daniel Bianchi, with Kipfolio, explains: “Innovation must be a shared responsibility. Everyone in the company should feel compelled to contribute. This guarantees that new ideas are continuously flowing into the process.”

Bringing this into the onboarding process also ensures that new hires know their ideas are welcomed, which increases the chances of uncovering opportunities. Bianchi continues, “More people involved means a more diverse set of perspectives to explore future opportunities. Also giving everybody a chance to provide ideas boosts team morale and creates shared ownership [which is] fundamental for when it’s time to implement those ideas.”

Create this innovative space for new employees from the get-go with a collaborative onboarding experience. Invite new hires into meetings right away and connect them with co-workers, allowing time for ideation from the start.

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