Don’t underestimate the power of a good onboarding experience.
Effective onboarding programs transform a nervous newbie into a vital team member and brand ambassador who’s comfortable discussing various talking points about the company, product, and their role. Onboarding sets the stage for the entire employee experience.
“Onboarding is crucial, and I think it’s important to get the new hire ‘bought-in’ on our company vision from the start,” says Sam Popcke, senior talent success manager at WorkRamp. “We have new employees sitting with our CEO on their first day, hearing about the history of WorkRamp, and really understanding our vision and how we’re going to get there.”
In a post-pandemic world, digital onboarding is the norm. So, how do you virtually replicate an effective onboarding experience that can benefit the employee and company? It’s not complicated, but it’s essential to lay the groundwork to set everyone up for success.
Three Steps for an Effective Onboarding Experience1. Welcome the employee to the team. A warm, welcoming gesture goes a long way. It shows the new employee that you are excited to have them join the team as a valuable asset.
Creating a simple welcome packet sets the tone and helps calm first-day nerves. The welcome packet can include:
- A welcome email from the hiring manager and team members (Pro tip: This can begin when they sign the offer letter.)
- A welcome announcement on day one via Slack, Teams, or email
- Welcome swag. Sending a swag package before day one helps set the tone—and who doesn’t like a few new goodies?
Set up welcome meetings on day one. Creating a few one-on-one meetings with an onboarding buddy and key team members will help individuals by giving them a go-to person to talk through any first-day jitters and questions, letting them get to know people they will work with regularly. Casual conversations about hobbies, where they live, and favorite movies are a few ice breakers.
Encourage the CEO and other key members of leadership to host face-to-face welcome meetings. Having busy CEOs dedicate 20 minutes to greet new hires shows that leadership cares. It’s an opportunity for new employees to meet the leaders, ask questions, and learn company values and the company’s mission. At WorkRamp, we have new hires start on the first and third Monday to let everyone consistently meet executives right away.
Set up a casual coffee meet-up or lunch with the team during the first week to allow employees to get to know each other personally. This can be done remotely or in person. If remote, give the team a gift card or credit in an app, have everyone order some food, and set up a time for everyone to eat together, virtually.
2. Set expectations. When a new team member joins an organization, it’s essential to have their manager share clear expectations of what the first week, 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days will look like. Laying out what’s to be done each time frame allows the new hire to understand what they need to tackle and starts a conversation with their manager about goals.
3. Create a clear path of learning. After you give new employees that welcome packet, set up introductory meetings, clarify expectations, and set up a structured training guide.
As Jen Scopo, instructional design manager at WorkRamp, advises, “Onboarding begins when the employment offer is accepted and extends through the first six months. But on the first day, start with the core: welcome to the company culture training. And then run two paths side by side: product training and role-specific training as you move along in the onboarding process.”
During onboarding, be sure to cover topics such as:
- Company culture
- Best forms of communication
- Organization chart
- Company mission and values
- Organization goals and future
In addition, you’ll want to create a learning experience that includes HR training, product training, customer insight, and a career path. This type of training can begin later during the first week of onboarding or even the second week on the job.
A learning platform can manage your new hire onboarding experience. Instead of using a checklist of items to accomplish the first week and a document with answers to the above, create an interactive lesson on a learning platform that shares this information using features like flashcards, quizzes, and fill-in the blank questions to gamify the experience.
Gamify the onboarding experience using a mini scavenger hunt. “A scavenger hunt allows the employee to learn about their team members, and they’re starting to build those connections and conversations,” explains Scopo.
Here’s what a mini scavenger hunt might look like:
- Day One: Meet three people (in-person or virtually) and find out how long they’ve been with the company. Enter your answers in the onboarding tool.
- Day Two: Join three meetings and list who’s wearing company swag.
- Day Three: Watch three demo calls or explore the company’s website and identify three product features are customers loving.
- Day Four: Watch a few specific recordings of company meetings and identify which company values are mentioned or demonstrated.
Create a mini scavenger hunt that fits your organization. The point is to engage the employee so they learn and retain important information.
When Does Onboarding End?The onboarding experience shouldn’t end after week one; it should continue at least through the new hire’s 90-day mark. Of course, you can space lessons out, but the employee has a lot of information to digest, so always refer back to the basics of company culture, values, and mission, before moving on to the next part of their training.
Setting new employees up for success is the goal, and you can use a well-thought-out onboarding experience to get them there. When learning is front and center of your onboarding experience, it sets expectations and develops the employee. Essentially, it’s your engine for growth.