Onboarding

It’s official: After posting your company’s open roles, scouring hundreds of applications and conducting interviews, you’ve successfully landed a couple of great new hires.

After all that hard work (and many cups of coffee), you’re ready to welcome some talented new employees to your company.

First of all, nice job! After all, it’s not easy finding top talent in today’s market. Despite some stiff competition, you’ve been able to successfully recruit highly skilled individuals to your team.

However, you also know that your work isn’t finished when a new recruit signs the paperwork.

You want your new employees to stick around for years to come, so you’re determined to create a seamless induction plan.

To help you create a best-in-class employee induction programme that sets your employees up for success, we’ve asked leading HR experts to share their best tips. The good news? You can start implementing these tips as soon as this week!

 

Watts Next HR
Alisha Ross, Wattsnext

1. Keep up the momentum.

Welcoming a new employee to the team can be a busy time, so it’s easy to forget that it can take new employees an average of eight months to get fully up-to-speed.

When it comes to employee induction, preparation and consistency are vital.

Once you develop processes for your new hire, it’s important to stay consistent without losing momentum.

We spoke with Alisha Ross from Australia-based HR consultancy Wattsnext, who added: “A lot of companies overlook the importance of preparation when they’re about to welcome a new team member. Starting a new job can be an exciting but nervous time for your new recruit. There are so many things employers can do to make this experience more enjoyable for everyone involved. However, it’s not something you can throw together when they arrive on day one.”

“You can prepare and plan for your new employee’s commencement by creating a schedule that outlines what their first day and week will look like. This not only helps the new employee — it also shows management and colleagues where (and when) they need to be to create a seamless process.”

“Another important thing to remember is that while the first week is important, it’s just as important to have a plan for the next few weeks, and even months.”

“We need to remember that even the most experienced employees will need time to settle into their roles and understand the company processes. Ask yourself what you want them to focus on and achieve during this time. It’s important that you provide them with meaningful and purposeful work. You don’t want to lose momentum after the first couple of days, and remember that sometimes the small things are just as important as the big ones.”

“An effective and well-structured onboarding process should set an employee up for success in their new role and expedite their fit with the team and culture. On the contrary, a lack of focus on a warm welcome and clear expectations at the beginning of the employment relationship could end in a disappointing outcome for all involved,” Alisha added.

And it’s true: With 37% of company induction activities ending after just one month, organisations should strive to offer best-in-class induction that lasts well over 30 days.

 

Tom Haak
Tom Haak, HR Trend Institute

2. Ask for feedback on your employee induction process.

When it comes to creating a solid employee induction programme, feedback is critical. Check in with your new staff members once they’re settled in and ask for their feedback: What worked for them? What confused them?

Learning about their experiences in reference to how easy (or not) it was for them to get up and running will tell you a lot about how to improve your overall induction process.

By asking for feedback once they’re settled in, you may start to notice patterns and learn how to improve your processes. For example, you might discover that a number of employees were confused about your company hierarchy — after learning this, you might implement an organisational chart.

We spoke with Tom Haak, Director of the HR Trend Institute, who agreed to share his expertise: “Companies often forget to measure how happy employees are with the induction program.”

“They often focus too much on sending the information they want new employees to process, and not on what they can learn from new employees. Especially when employees are new, companies can benefit from their insights,” Tom commented.

Whether you’re a new company or a large enterprise, there is always something to learn. Leaders in the industry can stay competitive by taking the time to evaluate their processes and continually improve upon their practices.

 

Morgan Legge
Morgan Legge, Convert

3. Hiring remotely? Tailor your induction plan accordingly.

You may be wondering, “Can remote companies run successful employee induction campaigns?” The answer is absolutely!

We chatted with Morgan Legge, HR Champion at Convert, to learn more: “Our day 1 onboarding has several components. Prior to the start date, I have an actual phone call or video chat with the new hire to answer questions and give them an overview of what will happen on their first day to set some expectations. This helps them relax and they often end up asking lots of good questions.”

“At the end of the call, I ask them to record a casual intro video for the team. This helps the team learn more about who they are and where they are located (since we’re a distributed team).”

“I then share these intro videos in our company Slack channel. What they don’t know is that I’ve also asked the team to do the same. I send all of these individual welcome videos prior to the employee’s start date. This means that on day 1, they feel like they are meeting a familiar face!”

“This is vital because culture and communication are really important for any remote team. We believe that understanding a bit about each other (values, humour, location, and so on) helps build trust. With trust, you can do great things!”

“Something else we do on an employee’s first day is host a 30 minute meet-and-greet where the whole team can say “hi” in person (well, as close to “in-person” as it gets for us as a remote team!). It’s a nice way to get acquainted and put a face to a name.”

Morgan shared what day one looks like for employees at Convert:

  • Employees go through an introductory technical onboarding segment.
  • New hires learn about the company’s culture and philosophy.
  • Employees are given a digital onboarding checklist which they have 60 days to complete.
  • Introduction to an onboarding buddy (who will meet with them once a week for 6 weeks).
  • Set up a buddy call schedule with the rest of the team.
  • Participation in a company meet-and-greet.
  • Brief remote co-working with their direct team through video chat.
  • On day 1, a full work day is never required (they discovered this is too much for new hires – even with breaks).

 

Juhi King
Juhi King, HR Tech Girl

4. Define the role & make sure your whole team is aligned.

When welcoming any new hire, it’s important to define the role and communicate it to your entire team. During this time, you can set clear expectations for the role and explain the changes to your team.

Explaining everything upfront (and with transparency) can help you avoid confusion. After all, you don’t want to leave your new hire and existing staff scratching their heads!

Juhi King of HR Tech Girl weighed in: “In my experience implementing HR processes and systems, I commonly see that companies pay least attention to defining the roles and responsibilities of new starters and then communicating this within and outside of their teams. This leads to confusion as the new hire tries to understand their role, while the team is equally confused.”

“Job titles are often overlooked as well — poorly defined job titles can lead to misexpectations in salary, roles and responsibilities, and many other areas,” Juhi added.

With 60% of companies failing to set milestones for new hires, savvy HR departments can set themselves apart by creating milestones and checklists for new hires.

The more details and milestones you can provide to new employees, the better their understanding will be (which in turn can help prevent potentially avoidable employee turnover).

 

Ana from Shep
Ana deAlvare, Shep

5. Tell new hires what to expect in terms of communication.

People have many different ways of communicating, so it’s important to set expectations from the start by telling your new hire what they can expect from you in terms of training and expectations.

Ana deAlvare from Shep (a business travel policy tool) shared her lessons learned based on her experience onboarding new hires: “Our last hire provided some great feedback. We created an initial communication plan showing the new hire what emails to expect/look for and why. Essentially, it was an outline of how long they should keep an eye on their inbox during the onboarding process.”

“Especially for a hire that isn’t email-focused, it can be overwhelming to receive all of the tool invites without context as to why they need each tool and what they are expected to do to fully complete the registration process.”

“From an operations standpoint, it’s important to explain what tools are cross-departmental and how often they should be interfaced. IE: We expect you to check tool X daily, and don’t forget to look at tool Y for these reasons, and so on.”

“Aside from the job description itself, a new hire has to learn the rhythm of a company’s communication style and gain a feeling for how the team tracks progress. You want to give your new hire a sense of motivation and ownership in the company.”

…Now it’s your turn!

Does your company have a unique way of welcoming new employees?

We’d love to hear it — let us know what has been working for you in the comments below.

 

Onboarding

More than half of employees who voluntarily leave their jobs do so quickly — within the first year of employment, according to a study by Equifax. Clearly, retention is more important than ever.

And what else relates to retention that is often (sadly) overlooked?

The answer is employee onboarding.

And the best companies around know this and use it to their advantage.

Look, I don’t need to convince you that hiring takes a lot of time and energy — you already know this. Recruiting, employee onboarding, and then, of course, retention. Heck, recruiting on its own is no easy feat… especially when you’re looking for top talent for your company!

But we all know that the work doesn’t stop at recruiting. Once you find a great fit for your company, you’ve got to make sure that you onboard them efficiently.

After all, if you want your new hires to stick around, shouldn’t your employee’s first experience at your company to be a positive one.

If the answer is yes, here’s how you can give your new hires a meaningful first experience that will last:

1. Communicate before your employee’s first day

Take this all-too-common scenario: A candidate accepts a job offer, they’re assigned a start date, and then nothing.

Crickets.

There is no communication between the day they accept and their first day on the job.

In other words, they show up to work on their first day with no idea what to expect. Is that really the way you want your employees to feel their first day?

Of course not.

To avoid this type of confusion and make sure your employee starts their first day on a positive note, the key is to keep them informed before they even start.

After they accept the offer, let them know when they start and what they can expect during their first week.

Walk them through the process so that they’re prepared (and not up late stressing about what will happen their first day).

That way, your employee will come into the office refreshed, prepared, and ready to get to work.

2. Know that you shouldn’t stop checking in after the first week

It’s easy to think that if you supply new hires with the materials they need and check up on them at the end of their first week, the hard work is done.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

While checking in on your new hire during the first week is great, you’ve got to keep checking in with them regularly throughout their first year to really make a lasting impact.

For example, Google found that new hires were most successful when managers checked in with them at least once a month during the first six months of their job.

And past that, don’t forget the importance of 1-1 meetings — they’re an excellent way to retain the employees you spent so much time finding and hiring.

After all, you don’t want to lose them after all the hard work you put in finding them in the first place!

3. Pair new hires with an onboarding buddy

While it may sound simple at first, this one works.

A great way to make sure new hires are comfortable is to pair them up with another team member.

And no, I don’t mean pair them up with their manager — of course, managers will play a big role during the onboarding process, but it’s important to pair them with a peer.

In fact, it’s best to pair them with a peer who has already worked at the company for a while.

When an existing employee shows a new hire the ropes, they’ll likely feel more comfortable and may even be willing to bring up questions they might normally hesitate to ask management.

A fair number of new hires might feel like they have an overwhelming amount of questions, which is why it’s good for them to feel like they can talk to more than just one person.

Plus, getting a tour from a peer will give new hires a different perspective.

4. Provide employees with a welcome kit

onboarding checklist

A new hire’s first week can be chaotic for both the employee and the manager. There’s a lot to remember. Things get lost.

One thing you want to be sure to have in place is an employee welcome kit.

For example, Warby Parker sends all new hires an electronic welcome packet so that employees can get familiar with the company’s history and values.

If you have general company onboarding documents stored in one place online, you can make sure nothing is forgotten or slips between the cracks during the employee’s first week.

So, what should you include in this welcome packet?

You can add things like your company handbook, policies, frequently asked questions, and any necessary documents and procedures the new hire might need.

Something else to note: When you talk about your company’s policies and values, try to reference specific examples. If you reference a story or real example, they’ll be more likely to relate and understand.

For example, if you have a policy in place that it’s OK to work flexible hours, point to a specific example like, “Some people come in at 7:00am and others at 10:00. It’s not the time they come in that’s important to us — it’s the work they produce that we really pay attention to.”

5. Define success when training new hires

When onboarding a new employee and training, don’t forget this one vital step: Let them know what success means in their role.

In other words, tell them how they can master their job and what they need to do.

You’d be surprised how many employees aren’t told how to succeed at their jobs and what it takes to get there.

Put together a roadmap to success and let your hires know how you define success.

The more KPIs you can provide, the more they can measure their own performance and produce the best work.

The result? New hires will know whether or not they’re making the right kind of impact, which is crucial.

6. Consider unique onboarding gifts

Who doesn’t like thoughtful gifts? (Emphasis on “thoughtful”).

Many companies give their new employees swag when they’ve hit major milestones like 10 years of work, but why not extend this to new hires as well?

Here’s the thing, though: Consider giving away something memorable and unique to your brand.

We’ve all been to conferences only to leave with tons of useless, generic swag. But there are always a few companies that stand out because they give away something that others don’t.

Take a similar approach as you onboard new hires: Rather than give all new hires a generic mug, what could you give them that symbolizes your company in a unique way and provides value?

You may be wondering what to provide. I don’t have the answer, because only you know what that will be. After all, you know your company best.

7. Let employees design their own workstations

It’s not just companies like Google that offer this perk. According to Remote.co, there are a variety of companies — like Plex — who also let their employees choose their equipment at work.

Everyone likes having choices, so why not give your employees the ability to choose their own work setup?

Not only is this a great perk, but it will also give your employees the freedom to work in a way that helps them truly excel.

If they work best with a standing desk, you can give them that tool they need to succeed. If another employee prefers a PC, they could make that choice.

8. Introduce new hires to everyone (even senior executives)

Nothing replaces a warm welcome from the team — including senior executives.

When a new employee is hired, it’s important that they feel connected to ALL aspects of the business.

If they have a basic understanding of how all the departments work together, they’ll feel closer to the organization.

Being welcomed by other staff (senior executives included) humanizes a company. It shows new hires that everyone is approachable.

For example, at Netflix, new employees are welcomed by an orientation with executive management. Within the first quarter, they meet with the CEO.

Never stop improving your onboarding process.

Remember that your onboarding plan can continue to grow and evolve over time.

You’ll get feedback from hires and will always be making small changes to your employee onboarding process.

The important thing to remember is to never stop learning.

Keep enhancing your onboarding process so that you can continue empowering your employees, equipping them with the tools they need to succeed.

Quick question: How does your company onboard employees? We’d love to hear from you.

employee onboarding template

Company CultureOnboarding

If you’re sitting there wondering what should be included in an employee handbook, you’ve come to the right place — we’ve scoured tons of employee handbooks for you to find the best examples out there to draw inspiration from.

In addition to covering laws and regulations (more on that here), the greatest employee handbooks out there all have one thing in common: They’re unique. They have an original voice and tone and are memorable. Some companies are now even creating both employee handbooks AND culture books, while others are choosing to combine both in one extensive book.

And let’s not forget that while handbooks are an awesome way to welcome new employees, they can also be a great recruiting tool should you decide to make your handbook public to complement your company’s current employer branding efforts.

1. The Valve employee handbook

valve

Valve’s notorious employee handbook went viral and is commonly shared as an example of a strong handbook (and for good reason!).

I mean, how many company handbooks throughout history have gone viral? Not many.

The handbook itself is empathetic, informative, and friendly. Not only does it walk new employees through their first day, but it also goes into the company’s philosophy by providing real, useful examples. For example, in one section, they mention that the company has a flat structure and that each employee is in charge of choosing his or her own projects.

The book mentions that as an employee, you may be invited to work on many projects within the company — but that ultimately, it’s up to you, the employee, to decide which projects to work on (regardless of anything else).

By writing down and referencing real, specific examples, employees can more easily prepare for different situations before they happen. It makes employees more comfortable and at ease during the onboarding process, and it’s also a great way to stay consistent as your company grows.

 

2. Disqus Culture Book

disqus culture book

The Disqus Culture Book is another example of a handbook that is full of personality. Far from boring or typical, this book covers everything from life at Disqus to their favorite phrases (and everything in between).

The writing itself is conversational, making it super easy to read and relate to. In other words, it sounds like a real human talking — not a robot.

The Disqus onboarding process is interesting: They have their very own employee handbook with rules and regulations, but they also have a culture book. So, they have two official guides for new hires to stay organized and on the same page:

Disqus

Not only is their culture book beautifully designed, but it’s also full of casual memes and photos to lighten things up and showcase their work culture.

Don’t get me wrong: The book is professionally done — but Disqus realizes that you can still be a great company without sacrificing personality and individuality, and this book is a perfect example of this in practice.

The book also includes a timeline and history with company milestones, to show employees when the company was started and how it grew over time.

Not only is the Disqus culture book an excellent way to welcome new team members and show them what to expect, but it also offers a down-to-Earth look into what it’s like working at Disqus, which can be useful in attracting potential new recruits to the company. It’s a win-win.

If you’re looking to create a modern handbook in a similar style, I’d recommend checking out online handbook builders like AirMason.

 

3. HubSpot Culture Code

hubspot culture

Let’s not forget that you can get quite creative with presentation when it comes to showcasing your company mission and values, too. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, because standing out can really work in your favor.

For example, HubSpot published their Culture Code slide presentation on SlideShare as a way of demonstrating their mission and revealing who they are. Not only is this a creative way to talk about your company values, but it also happens to be perfectly in line with their inbound marketing product.

In other words, they practice what they preach — even down to their HR efforts.

The visuals are rich with photographs, illustrations, and beautiful design. The SlideShare presentation proved itself as a very effective way to get their message across and recruit new candidates and received many, many views.

Whether it’s a slideshow, movie, blog series, or eBook — there are so many ways to promote your company’s message.

 

4. Zappos Culture Book

Zappos Handbook

If you’re big on company culture, chances are you’ve heard about Zappos more than a few times.

Zappos has become a leader in company culture, from offering employees thousands of dollars to quit if they aren’t a good fit, all the way to their heavy focus on excellent customer support. So it really came as no surprise that in 2014, Zappos published their Culture Book online for all to see, and it generated quite a bit of buzz.

This book includes their values and mission, along with TONS of testimonials straight from — you guessed it — the employees themselves. The reviews from employees are inspiring to read and highlight what it’s really like working at Zappos.

Besides, who better to talk about what it’s like working for a company than its very own employees?

Think about it: When someone recommends that you try something they’ve been doing for years and love, aren’t you much more likely to consider it?

The same can be applied to recruiting talent to your company: The more stories and employee testimonials you have, the more potential candidates have to learn from.

5. The Netflix Culture Slides

Netflix created a guide to their freedom and responsibility culture guide, which was eventually posted to SlideShare in an easy-to-digest format.

Not only is it extensive as ever, covering company-wide values (like their no-brilliant-jerks policy), but it also talks about how they plan on scaling while keeping their original values.

The Netflix culture slides are straightforward, conversational, and informative, preparing employees for their journey ahead.

Creating Your Own Employee Handbook

Whether you want to talk about your company’s culture, company policies, or both — getting it down in writing is always a good idea.

You may be wondering, “When should I start doing this at my company?”

The truth is that it’s never too early to start writing down your values, and as your business grows, it’ll help you stay consistent and organized. Plus, everyone will be on the same page (and who wouldn’t want that?).

employee handbook example
Generate your own handbook with our partners AirMason

There are many ways to get started — you can craft your own from scratch, or you can use an online tool like AirMason (example above) to generate modern and beautiful handbooks (which you can host online or export as a PDF to print).

Do you have an example of a great employee handbook? We’d love to hear about it!