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The Best Employee Onboarding Experiences Ever

Kate Williams

3 February 2021

7 min read

The first day at a new job happens to be one of the most memorable yet stressful ones in an employee’s career. They have gone through the job-hunting process, perfecting their resumes, attending a multitude of interviews and finally, they have landed a job at your company! It is quite natural that they would be feeling a little anxious on the day of joining and the new hires would be having a thousand questions running through their minds as they first walk into their new office. By meticulously planning their first day of work, Employers can give them the Best Employee Onboarding Experiences to help them reduce their first-day jitters and smoothly transition into their new working environment.

Set them up for success by creating the best onboarding experience that encompasses your company culture and values. Upgrade your employee onboarding experiences with these ideas.

1. Preboarding: Begin your Employee Onboarding Journey before Day One

Many Companies begin the Employee Onboarding program on the first day, but to offer the Best Employee Onboarding Experiences, you must understand that the onboarding process must start even before the first day- It begins when the candidate accepts your offer letter. Preboarding or Pre-onboarding ensures that the new hires are in constant touch with your company, reducing their anxiety on the first day of joining.

The key to creating the Best Employee Onboarding Experiences is in realizing that it is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. For Warby Parker- An online retail Company-the onboarding programs begin before day one. Their New hires are emailed a welcome pack with information on Company values, history, what they should expect on their first day, first week and the first month of work.

The wait between receiving an offer letter and the first day of joining is long. Keep the new hire engaged during that long gap and make them feel that they are already a part of your team:

  • Share the latest company news and updates.
  •  Regularly check in on them through emails.
  • Offer detailed information regarding the first day with a first-day Agenda listing out everything – who to meet, where to park, the dress code, whether lunch would be provided etc.
  • Share a company brand video, and the links to the company social media handle, to give them a sneak peek into your company culture and people.
  • Try to finish paperwork like the Employment contract and payroll forms before day one. By speeding up the paperwork, you can focus more on the employee engagement side of onboarding.

2. Employee Onboarding Journey: The First Day

Even if you are not a fresher, Walking into a new office may feel daunting on the first day. It may feel overwhelming for them, but you can offer the Best Employee Onboarding Experiences with a proper and well-defined onboarding strategy. The first day is all about the orientation and the agenda that was discussed during the Pre-boarding stage. Ensure that you do not bombard the new hire with too much information. It is essential to carry out the onboarding step by step by focussing on the welcoming experience and showing them around the office. 

a) Assign a Buddy or a Mentor for better employee onboarding experiences

Assign a Buddy pair or a Mentor- preferably a teammate or an experienced colleague who can show them the ropes. They would feel more comfortable asking mundane questions and doubts about the office to a colleague around their age. Take, for example, IBM’s Royal Blue Ambassador program, that ensures every new hire is paired up with an experienced mentor for 30 days to help them get acclimated with their new workplace. Buffer takes this a step ahead by assigning three buddies for the new hire-A culture Buddy, A leader Buddy and a Role buddy. Each of these three buddies has their unique role in creating the Best Employee Onboarding Experiences for the new hires at Buffer.

b) Introduce them to their peers, colleagues and senior management

With so many to-do’s and checklists that have to be crossed off in the onboarding process, sometimes you may forget the essential part- Introducing them to their peers and coworkers. This could be a very informal process and would take just a few minutes. But it would mean the world to them, to gain the reassurance that they have a healthy support system here at their workplace. Apart from their peers, ensure that they meet the senior management. Online Streaming giant Netflix gives utmost priority to this step in the onboarding process.Their new hires meet with the senior management within the first quarter itself and this helps them align with the company ethos early on in their employee journey

c) Personalize the onboarding- Create a great New Hire Experience

Personalization is increasingly being connected with Productivity. Personalizing the onboarding process is based on making the new hire feel special, and instilling the feeling that the entire organization is a close-knit family. While planning such an onboarding, try to understand their preferences, likes and interests. Incorporate activities around their interests. Try including personalized messaging, and incorporate personalized learning strategies.

Why not take a leaf out of Digital Ocean’s book? They go above and beyond in making sure that their onboarding is highly personalized with the Best employee onboarding experiences:

  • A handwritten welcome note and a bottle of champagne would be waiting for the new hire at their desk.
  • A huge balloon would be tied at their desk so that other employees could easily find them and interact with them on their first day at the office.

Their motto is to make the Day One exceptional, and other companies could follow suit with smaller acts of personalization to boost the new hire’s enthusiasm,

d) Reinvent with Gamification for the best onboarding experience

Many employees cite that orientation programs with a one-hour PowerPoint presentation on company history, values and mission are dull. It is certainly not what one would envision as Best Employee Onboarding Experiences. A perfect way to turn this situation around would be by transforming certain aspects of the orientation program into a game that could capture their attention. The tech firm Bazaarvoice organizes scavenger hunts that last almost a week. The purpose of these scavenger hunts is to familiarize the new hires with their culture and jargons.

Onboarding a new hire should be seen as more than an administrative task. It should be a celebration because your family is getting bigger!

e) Showcase your Company Culture

81% of new hires feel a cultural misfit later on within a company. To ensure the Best Employee Onboarding Experiences, elucidate your company culture in the formal onboarding process. You can do this by:

  • Incorporating a short section on the company background and history.
  • Including the new hires in get-togethers or meetings so that they can understand the vibe early on. 
  • Also, the assigned buddy or mentor can answer the new hires queries on the company culture.

Zappos, an online clothing retailer, has taken their vision of providing Best Employee Onboarding Experiences very seriously. They organize a 5-week course centred on core company culture and values. At the end of these five weeks, if the new hires feel that their culture is not the right fit for them, Zappos offers them $4000 to quit. Their “pay to quit policy” has raised many eyebrows in the past. Their leaders reaffirm that it is a strategy to check if these new hires are committed to working and the extent of their loyalty.

3. After the first day of joining

Fast Forward Two months, six months or perhaps even a year. How is your new hire holding up? The Employee Onboarding Journey does not end after one or two months, once the new employee ceases being the new guy! It has to be an ongoing process that may last as long even one year. Each step of the Employee Onboarding Journey Map– from accepting the offer letter to the day of joining and subsequent blending in with the workplace – needs to be planned carefully. It is crucial to determine the outcome of onboarding and check in on your recruits regularly.

 Follow these steps to provide them with continued support leading to Best Employee Onboarding Experiences:

1. Optimize your onboarding process by collecting their Feedback 

90% of new hires decide whether they want to stay with you or not within the first six months of joining. Their first touchpoint with your company is at the onboarding stage. This has a huge role to play in setting the tone for the rest of the Employee Journey within the company. So it goes without saying how crucial it is to give them the  Best Employee Onboarding Experiences.

They say first impressions are the best impressions. The saying holds true for a company as well. What do the new hires feel about your company culture and the orientation? Did they face any hurdles along the way?

Getting Feedback from the new hires is the only way to keep perfecting your employee Onboarding process. Most of them would be uneasy in expressing their Feedback outright, and in such cases, it is best to distribute an anonymous survey. Try SurveySparrow’s Employee Onboarding surveys to measure how satisfied they are with the Employee Onboarding JourneyYou include an open-ended question, asking them how the onboarding process could have been improved. SurveySparrow’s surveys have relevant questions that will help you address their concerns in a timely manner.

2. Celebrate the new hire’s first Job Anniversary

Their First Job Anniversary is a special moment for both the company and the new hire. It commemorates one year since he/she has first stepped into the office. It is the best time to reflect on their achievements, small wins, and plan for their future. Keep track of their first year job anniversaries and send reminders to the entire team so that they can plan a celebration.

This is also an apt time to check how engaged they are within the workplace. Conducting regular employee engagement surveys are a great asset to understand what is going through their minds. This is especially true in the case of an employee who has completed a year at the company. Anonymous, open-ended Employee Engagement surveys from SurveySparrow can help you get better responses, more so since SurveySparrow’s surveys are conversational in nature.

3. Set Regular Expectations: Be clear and precise

To truly offer the Best Employee Onboarding Experiences be clear about what is expected of them throughout the entire onboarding process. Build objectives that are measurable and give them clarity on how much autonomy they have within the company. Which decisions can they make on their own and when is it that they should seek approval from a higher authority. Ensure that they understand the extent of their roles and responsibilities. The Best Employee Onboarding Experiences are facilitated by not just the HR personnel but also their reporting managers. Research suggests that employees with support and guidance from their managers become successful in the long run. When their managers are involved in the onboarding process, the new hires begin to feel valued and appreciated more. So managers need to roll up their sleeves and actively invest in their recruits to show them that they are important team members.

Wrapping it Up..

Recruiting is a costly and timely affair. Companies are now investing in better hiring and onboarding strategies to not lose their top talent to their competitors.

Organizations have realized that it is high time to step up their onboarding strategies to offer Best Employee Onboarding Experiences. With a well-defined strategy, the chances of an employee staying at your company well beyond the three-year mark increases by 58%. The traditional onboarding process of simply signing up a candidate, filling up tedious forms and endless hours of presentations has given way to an innovative and personalized experience that has reinvented the recruiting process. Organizations have started putting themselves in these new hires’ shoes, adopting a people-first approach to offer them the Best Employee Onboarding Experiences that they can cherish for a lifetime.

Kate Williams

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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