Onboarding Stories, Straight And Right
Updated: Aug 23
A good onboarding experience can be as subjective as enjoying an opera vs. suffering through it. Every employee has different expectations from their onboarding process, even though the basics often remain constant.
Putting just a little thought into it can make a world of difference to the culture you create for joinees at any level. Get at least the young recruit experience right!
That said, some onboarding stories come straight from hell. Being yelled at on the very first day is bad enough, but when someone does it without even realizing that you aren’t the person they were looking for, that’s just so much worse. You’d be surprised by how often this happens.
Many new hires are fresh out of college and struggle with paperwork and signing on the dotted line with little to no assistance. Some bosses also make the mistake of making the first day all about themselves, with no direction provided and no specifics mentioned about what the employee actually needs to do on a daily basis.
These are just some of the most common problems. Luckily for us, there are benchmarks to look up to, and while we may not have the tools or resources to be aspirational, we can always implement aspects that are relevant to us.
How is the industry doing onboarding?
Take Facebook, for example. They have a two-month onboarding process that involves new hires working with different teams each week to find the role that suits them best. They do not believe in waiting for the year to turn to understand where the employee is a good fit, and instead do it at the very beginning.
Twitter’s 75-step onboarding process is also famous because it deals with everything from the most pressing to the most mundane concerns in getting a new employee settled in. They have aptly called this program the Yes-To-Desk program, beginning when the new hire says yes and ending once they are fully settled in.
Not just tech companies, hospitality is not far behind either. Waldorf Astoria actually conducts a treasure hunt for new employees to get them engaged in learning about the company in a fun manner. Not everyone has the gorgeous hotels required to do it, but the idea itself can be adapted to smaller workspaces by making good use of the office furniture. Companies like L’Oreal and IBM believe in the power of time. Their onboarding experience is not limited to the first few weeks alone and instead extends up to two years, serving more often as a guide in stressful situations than as a primer alone.
Sometimes, simplicity is essential, and no one understands this better than Warby Parker. All new hires receive an electronic welcome kit that walks them through the company’s policy and culture and tells them what to expect on the first day, in the first week and through their first month at work. The evening before they’re due to report, the hire’s direct supervisor calls them to tell them where they need to show up.
Gamification is a great way to engage new hires because we all love to play, don’t we? Arrow Electronics has an onboarding module that is essentially a video game called A Culture Of Success. New hires can choose from a range of modules best suited to their function.
When it comes to onboarding, product companies do it best. Ferrero’s new employees get a whole box of goodies manufactured by the brand and even employees who don’t know that Kinder Joy is made by Ferrero find out, thanks to the kit. Likewise, PepsiCo’s kit comes with a whole lot of junk food, and a fitness band to highlight the element of care.
In conclusion, there is no such thing as a single great onboarding experience- different things work for different companies based on their industry of operation, and what they want to achieve through the process. Very often, onboarding is about empowering every new employee and helping them imbibe the values that are written down. Empowerment comes with trust, and when people feel like they’re a part of the tribe. Is your onboarding process achieving that objective?