Onboarding isn’t just about handing an employee a handbook and showing them where to sit. It’s an ongoing process that provides training and supports new hires as they grapple with the challenges of a new position.
But onboarding should also be engaging and social, areas in which many employers seem to struggle.
Don’t worry, though, because we got you covered. In this article, we present some practical tips and tricks that will make your onboarding process go without a hitch for the mutual benefit of new hires and the company.
Match the Onboarding to Your Workplace Model
As everywhere in life, there is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to the onboarding process.
Every company is different and has its own needs, procedures and preferences. So when it comes to finding the best onboarding solution for your workplace, it’s important to have your unique business model in mind.
For example, since the pandemic took hold, the hybrid workplace model that combines in-office and remote work proved to be very successful.
Employees welcomed it as a preferred way of working, and employers embraced the change because it’s been having a beneficial effect on worker productivity.
Even though it is beneficial for the employees and the employer alike, a hybrid model could be problematic for the new hires who are just starting to work for the company.
They may not get the chance to meet many of their colleagues in person, can feel disconnected from the organization, and find it hard to develop a sense of belonging to the company and its goals.
In that case, traditional onboarding can no longer serve its purpose, and you should tailor the training process to reflect thin new workplace model.
The answer could be a hybrid onboarding that combines virtual and onsite training. With this kind of onboarding, employees can quickly comprehend the dynamic of the office workplace and the communication process of remote work.
When they actually start working, they no longer feel disjointed and dislocated but rather an integral part of the workforce.
To give you a few tips on how you can easily switch to this kind of onboarding, let’s look at a real-life example from Microsoft.
While keeping their onboarding process mostly virtual and self-serving, they personalized their office training by encouraging one-on-ones between the manager and the new employees and assigning them an onboarding buddy.
Regular conversations with the manager and onboarding buddy assistance made new hires feel valued and engaged. Somebody personally looked after their progress, which contributed to their overall satisfaction.
As a result, new employees were more content with the onboarding training and reported feeling like a part of the team.
In fact, it turns out that new employees were 3.5 times more likely to report satisfaction if their managers played an active role in onboarding.
Having achieved these great results, Microsoft, unsurprisingly, decided to make hybrid onboarding their standard training practice.
The key takeaway here is that onboarding is far more effective and satisfying for employees when it reflects the nature of the workplace model adopted by the company.
So take some time to figure out how your own office functions from day to day and apply these characteristics to your onboarding process.
Allow Early Access to Your Knowledge Base
The success of new employees often depends on how well they are trained. But it’s not just about handing them everything on a plate. Employees should also do their part when it comes to advancing in an onboarding process.
It is advisable to encourage employees to do their research during training to grasp bits and pieces of the new job position more quickly.
One of the ways you can do that is by referring them to the company knowledge base that can help them understand the structure, culture, and regulations of the workplace because it contains some of the foundational documents of the company.
Access to the company knowledge base is usually given to new employees on their first day. However, today many businesses adopted the practice to give new employees access even before starting their new role.
This could prove to be beneficial for at least three good reasons:
- Employees can start learning about different policies, regulations, procedures, and departments–information that usually takes more time to comprehend
- They can sync with your mission, vision, and culture even before they start to work for your company
- They will avoid information overload that regularly happens during the first weeks of employment
With quality documentation software, like Archbee, your entire knowledge base is always a few clicks away from both new and experienced employees because all that’s needed to access it is an internet connection and the login information.
With Archbee, sharing your knowledge base has never been easier. After a new hire accepts your job offer, you can set up their account and just email them the login information with instructions on which documents you’d like them to examine as a part of their pre-boarding experience.
And here’s a pro-tip: you can include an onboarding checklist so that the new employee has a good idea of what to expect once they join you on their first day.
That way, you’re removing a lot of uncertainty from the process and enabling the new hire to prepare for a successful and engaging first day in their new role.
And with Archbee’s check box function, new hires can check off items from their list, giving them a good sense of progression.
For you as the employer, this kind of checklist can save a lot of time because you can create it once, save it in your company’s knowledge base, and have it ready every time you hire a new employee.
With this kind of checklist, you can automate the pre-onboarding procedure and ensure everything stays organized and communicated clearly to the new hire.
Now that we got the pre-onboarding covered let’s move to the next important part of the training process–welcoming the new member to the team.
Make a Special Announcement for Their Arrival
Your new employees will become a valuable part of your company one day. So instead of simply giving them a tour around the office, a better idea is to do something that will make them feel special and remember their first day for a lifetime.
Here’s a few tips on how you can make them feel super welcome and convinced they made a great choice when deciding to work for you.
Firstly, you can break the ice by announcing that you have a new member joining your workforce.
For the introduction, you can use email, Slack, or other preferred channels to send the message across the entire organization.
Making sure that everyone knows who the new employee is will avoid guessing the new face in the office and enable other colleagues to give the newbie a warm welcome in the lunchroom or the halls.
However, your email doesn’t have to be boring–you can safely use a touch of creativity to give your new hires special treatment on their first day.
For example, instead of the plain textual email, you can send a message with a picture, basic information, and interesting facts about the new hires’ life or interests, like their favorite movie or hobby.
Interesting facts will spark the interest of other colleagues and be a great conversation starter, which will enable new hires to feel more relaxed and accepted in their workplace debut.
Additionally, you can make it even more personal by encouraging the new hire to say a few words on Slack about themself that haven't been covered in the announcement.
That doesn’t mean that they have to recite their CV from start to finish, but rather share something fun or what they are passionate about with their peers.
To expand on that last point, nothing says welcome better than sharing with the rest of the world that you have a new talent on board. You can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn to deliver the good news.
For best results, try to keep it fun and short. Even a few nice words about how happy you are to have the new employee in your team will make them feel welcome.
After the announcement, it is advisable to introduce the new employee personally to everyone in the office face-to-face. You can do it yourself or entrust an onboarding buddy with that task.
By then, other team members will know a thing or two about the rookie, so everything will be relaxed and easy-going. Exactly how the first day should be.
Giving your recruit a special welcome in the form of a personally tailored announcement will provide them with a great first-day experience and set the stage for a good onboarding process.
Set Up a Meeting With the CEO
We showed you how you can start on the right foot in the previous section. This section will outline how you can further enrich the onboarding process by introducing the new employees to the people in charge.
Meeting the CEO during onboarding can be helpful to the new hires in more than one way.
The manager or an onboarding buddy can introduce them to their daily tasks and job responsibilities. Still, it is the senior management that’s best positioned to instruct them about the company’s mission and future aspirations.
Founders and other C-suite executives will convey expectations connected to the organization’s overall goal, giving a new employee a clear vision of where the company is headed and what will be their role in this journey.
Greenhouse gives us a good example of how you can include a meeting with the CEO in your onboarding process.
As they are a recruiting software company, they know firsthand how important it is for the new hire to meet the executives to boost their morale and make them feel like they are a part of the team.
Therefore, they established a procedure where their President Jon Stross first opens the onboarding session, and then within the first two months, each new class of the employees has breakfast with the CEO Daniel Chait.
This gives the new employees the chance to learn more about the company and its goals and ask questions. And by seeing that their role is taken seriously, they feel more involved and connected to the company from the get-go.
Because of the CEO’s often hectic schedule, it is unrealistic to expect them to meet every new employee in person, especially in larger companies.
For instance, you can’t imagine Tim Cook finding the time to meet and greet all the new hires in the Apple corporation.
He does, however, make a point of addressing Apple’s workforce in large events from time to time.
But even in a large company, if they can’t meet the man in charge, you can introduce new employees to high-ranking executives or the head of the departments.
Having breakfast or a coffee break with a senior figure at the company is more than enough to effectively get these important messages across.
After such a memorable experience, when friends and family ask them how their first day went, they can proudly say that they even met the CEO. What a great way to start a new job!
Have the Team Introduce Themselves
Imagine that you are a new employee. On the first day, you have already met team members and a CEO, signed many papers, had to remember your way through a labyrinth of hallways and cubicles, and suddenly you realize that you forgot everyone’s names and roles.
You are not alone–information overload is quite common when starting a new position.
To make processing information easier, many companies go to great lengths to find a way to introduce the team to the new hires that will not escape their memory.
As we live in a technologically advanced world where everything is interactive and visually pleasing, many companies decided to follow up on this trend by using videos, slide presentations, or other resources to make this task more appealing.
For example, if you by any chance happen to find a job at Annie’s, we are pretty sure you won’t forget the names and roles of the employees.
In this inspiring and funny video about the company’s mission, we get the chance to peek behind the scenes and see the real people (or Bunnies as they call themselves) responsible for the brand’s success.
The video is not only great for building the company’s reputation, but also for allowing the team to introduce themselves to the new employees.
They get to know who the “Head Bunny” is and other Bunnies responsible for the sales, sourcing, and community in a way that makes it easy to remember their names and roles.
This makes new employees feel like they are a part of the team from day one because they get the notion that they already know other team members.
Just by looking at the effect Annie’s video can have on building team spirit, we encourage you to follow their steps and create a video or slide presentation where you let your employees present themselves.
But if the company is too large to present the majority of the employees in one clip, you can use the video to deliver the culture and show what it will be like to work for the organization, just like the HubSpot did in the example below.
They use humor to introduce employees from different departments, as well as their culture and the benefits they offer.
The result is a hilarious video that pulls new employees in from start to finish and reinforces their desire to be a part of this quirky yet professional workforce.
Introducing the team to your new employees is by no means compulsory, but it is worth investing the time and energy.
The benefits when it comes to building a strong community and making new employees feel welcome and motivated to work can be substantial.
Get New Employees Involved As Soon As Possible
With the introduction out of the way, it is time to roll up the sleeves and get down to business.
The sooner you get the new employees to the trenches, the faster they will learn how their role fits in the company and connect the dots on how your organization functions.
Taking time for the proper onboarding training is important, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give newbies smaller tasks from the beginning.
For example, you can assign them simple assignments with, of course, adequate supervision from the mentor who will walk them through the process.
An excellent example of how you can get new employees to do the actual work from the start is Facebook’s Bootcamp for Engineers.
In the six-week training program, new engineers are immediately given access to Facebook code and assigned different tasks to perform, such as fixing bugs on the site or in the app. As their code will affect the Facebook users, they have a mentor who checks their work before it goes live.
What’s more, they get to contribute to multiple engineering teams and choose where they’d like to continue working after bootcamp is over.
Facebook Bootcamp is recognized as one of the best onboarding programs in the tech industry because the results are astonishing.
Bootcampers feel as though they are contributing from the first day. After the training, they can decide for themselves in which coding area they want to continue their career. Subsequently, that leads to greater satisfaction and motivation to do the work.
Although most companies don’t have the means or personnel to organize the bootcamp, it is advisable to get employees involved in actual projects from the beginning because this can be the best and quickest way for them to learn.
The same goes for senior hires. As they have more knowledge and experience, leaving them in training for too long or handing them low-lift assignments could be counterproductive. A better course of action is to throw them into the fire, so to speak, very early on and just provide support.
“My very first day on the job involved flying out to San Francisco to help pitch a big client, and it's been an exciting ride ever since. While there wasn't formal orientation or training when I joined, I spent the first few weeks getting to know everyone and joining any call or meeting I could to get up to speed.”
We can learn a lot from her story. Even if you can't assign senior hires more complicated tasks early on, you can involve them in ongoing projects or invite them to join meetings until they grasp how your business works.
Remember, if you pair your onboarding with actual assignments from the start, your new employees will become an integral part of your team sooner and quicker.
From everything that has been said in this article, it should be clear that onboarding is more than giving your new employee papers to sign and showing them where to sit.
Rather, onboarding is a complex procedure of welcoming new hires, training them to do their job, and aligning them with the company’s goals and values. That is why it is good to plan ahead and standardize it as much as possible.
With the practical tips we laid out in this article, you will undoubtedly nail your onboarding process and set new hires up for success very quickly.