KimLoan Tran, Ph.D., Vice President and Head of Talent Management at Allstate, recently joined Dr. Steve Safier and Laura Guerrieri’s Integrated Talent Management Strategies class to discuss leading practices in onboarding, such as orienting new employees to the company, culture, their own roles, and teammates. Integrated Talent Management Strategies is a core course in the M.S. in Human Capital Management program; students investigate and practice demonstrating how talent processes such as performance management, leadership development, total rewards, and talent acquisition can affect an organization’s overall capabilities.
Dr. Tran specializes in advancing organizations through the journey of complex change, learning, and talent management. Her expertise is in creating and executing large-scale business transformation initiatives—both across industries and at top consulting firms—and she is a frequently sought-after consultant, conference keynote speaker, panelist, and researcher.
In speaking about effective onboarding practices, Dr. Tran began by emphasizing the value of cultivating an “organizational ecosystem” where employees feel welcomed, connected, and excited to be part of the company, regardless of their location. The goal is to design an inclusive and immersive experience that enables role clarity and cultural integration—and, most important, a sense of belonging.
Dr. Tran shared Allstate’s onboarding philosophy, which leverages Stanford University’s Design School framework for belonging. Pillars of the philosophy include:
- Inviting new employees into the Allstate community even before they join the company by communicating a shared purpose, vision, and employee value proposition
- Welcoming employees to bring their full selves to work and quickly introducing them to key team members who can help them understand what success looks like in their role
- Getting to know and embracing new employees for their “unique superpowers” and matching them to onboarding buddies and mentors who can help them build connections
- Getting new employees to participate in and contribute to affinity groups—joining Employee Impact groups, for example—so they know their voices matter
- Growing their skills and potential by offering personalized learning and development training and career mobility
Dr. Tran and the students engaged in a personal and meaningful discussion of diversity, equity, and inclusion, exploring the meaning of and feeling behind “belonging” in an organization and the importance of not only hiring but also promoting diverse professionals throughout an organization. Dr. Tran also emphasized the criticality of using internal and external benchmarking data to demonstrate the business value of DE&I efforts. Regularly show how these efforts lead to better business outcomes, innovation, and financial performance, she advised.
Dr. Tran concluded the discussion with career advice: “We are living in a world with such an accelerated pace of change and with new information constantly coming at us. Our response should be a focus on ‘learning agility’ by engaging in a constant state of learning and critical thinking while being resourceful to find answers. Be ‘learn-it-alls,’ not ‘know-it-alls.’ Be humble and inquisitive. Consistent with the value we place on diversity, learn from everyone!”