Imagine two new employees. We’ll call them Stan and Bill. Stan and Bill are starting in jobs at two banks. The two banks are competitors and sit directly across the street from each other.

Stan and Bill are both part of a group of new hires who will be going through onboarding. They both make about the same amoung of money and will be handling the same types of customers.

Ironically enough, they both start the same day. On a sunny Monday morning Stan and Bill enter the bank for the new hire onboarding.

From that point forward, the similarities end.

When Stan reports to the new hire training room, his trainer starts by having the group fill out their paperwork. Stan spends the next five days learning the computer systems, reading about the history of the bank and getting briefed on rules and regulations.

Midweek, the area leader speaks to the group about the department’s goals and where they stand to date.

Stan also learns more about the expectations for his role and the guidelines for working with clients.

At the bank across the street, Bill has a different onboarding experience. When he joins his peers in the training room, the trainer starts by facilitating a discussion about the role that finances and money play in people’s lives.

Bill is asked to think about the positive and negative ways the bank can impact customers. When the CEO video conferences in, she tells the group a story about how the bank helped a specific client make better financial decisions.

She also shares her story about her parents’ financial challenges as a child.

Bill is starting to think, “Wow, banking is actually a big deal.”

The rest of the week, each time Bill is trained on a product or procedure, the trainer describes the impact each element has on clients. When Bill fills out his paperwork, he signs a pledge to serve and protect his client’s financial well-being.

Same industry, same salaries, same job, same market, but two different onboarding experiences. At the end of a week, who is going to be more emotionally engaged in their job?

Stan, who spent the week focused on paperwork and procedures? Or Bill, who has been asked to think deeply about the impact money has on people’s lives, and whose trainer connected everything to the impact it has on clients?

Organizations that infuse meaning and purpose into their onboarding seed a belief in their employees. They let people know, “our work here matters.” The above examples from financial services world could just as easily be health care, education or software.

So how do your people experience the first week of work? Are they filling out paperwork or finding their purpose?

Lisa McLeod is an author and business consultant.

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