5 Onboarding Ideas To Inspire Your Team

by Daniel Hannig

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word ONBOARDING? Orientation, of course. Whether you’re a freshman in high school or college, the first day anywhere can be overwhelming and nerve-racking; yet, very exciting and productive. Getting your new hire acquainted with the company goals and values since day one will help ease the nervousness of getting started. Nothing says ‘Welcome to the team’ quite like successful onboarding.

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Turn those first day woes into memorable ones; after all, it only takes the blink of an eye to make a first impression (between 34 and 100 milliseconds to be more specific) We’ve selected a couple of prosperous onboarding ideas that could boost your old ones.Let’s get started!

1. Onboarding is not orientation


Orientation is an event, the “rite of passage” every incoming college freshman experiences. Think of it as trying a green smoothie. You’ll dislike it at first but the whole idea of being “healthy and detox” will make you fiercely love it, or at least tolerate it. And that is college, essentially.

Onboarding is a process which ensures new hires to feel welcomed and promptly acquainted with the company’s cultures and values from the get-go. The experience is a personal one, between the organization and new employee which could take weeks, even months.

The importance of onboarding is crucial. This idea of “get them in and get them working” does more damage than good. In a survey by OfficeTeam, an astonishing 54% of employees have experienced at least one mishap when starting a new job.

To help your new hires succeed before their first day:

  • Clarify dress code, office hours, and to bring all necessary paperwork to their first day.
  • Create a comfortable working station for the new hire.
  • Provide new hires with a welcome gift.

Often times, new hires have this Disney-esque image of their new job, but not everything is peaches and cream. The popular Web search engine, Google is not only known for its rigorous interview process, but also for their two-week to one-month long in-person onboarding process that explains the organizational structure and focuses on practical learning and cognitive apprenticeships. And believe it or not, this instructional approach seems to work! Google has their “Noogler” onboarding process down to a science. Their employee onboarding process for a new hire starts even before the employee is hired! Hiring managers receive an alert email the Sunday before the new hire starts to help reduce new hire time to productivity by a full month.  New hires or “Nooglers” (new + Google = noogler) are welcomed with big company packets, stickers, T-shirts which read “Class of ____“ with the year of joining, HR forms and a shiny new MacBook. What’s not to love?

As a result of Google’s dedicated onboarding process, their employee onboarding has improved by 25%.

2. Inspire your new hires

giphy.gif Share your knowledge and inspire new hires to share their past experiences and expectations from the job. Forbes suggests making onboarding as personal as possible. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the employee than it was possible during the interview process.

During their first week,

  • Give new hires a tour of the office and layout of the facility.
  • Assign a mentor to help with guidance and reverse mentorship.
  • Plan a small manager or supervisor meeting.
  • Fill in or finish any remaining paperwork.

Clutch advises that it can also be helpful to schedule coaching sessions between managers and new employees. These sessions will help the new employee to ramp up very quickly and grow the employee-manager relationship. By paying attention and dedication to new hires, you are creating the best recipe for success. The Washington-based largest online gaming platform, Valve, leaked their employee handbook, which is an awe-inspiring employee handbook that helps their people in a fun and quirky way.

To be fair, this handbook feels like a conversation over scones and tea. On page 45, Valve stated: “This handbook is about…how not to freak out now that you’re here.”

This approach has made new hires at Valve feel at ease when making the transition into the new job. 

3. Recognize accomplishments with perks

giphy.gif Recognition, no matter the size, goes a long way in letting an employee and new hire know that they are appreciated and valued. If you haven’t read our seven employee retention strategies yet, you need to check them out.

Let’s give employees the recognition they want and love to hear with small perks. Are they doing a good job or getting quickly acquainted with their new position? Are they successfully achieving the tasks they’re given? Even something as small as setting up their email signature or uploading a photo for their company badge will keep them busy and will feel like they are doing something productive. After a couple of weeks of onboarding, check in with your employee and reward any accomplishment or even the completion of their onboarding process.

California-based corporation Evernote, started giving its employees one of the best perks yet. The latest “innovation” coming from Silicon Valley: housekeeping.

All 250 employees get their homes cleaned twice a month F O R  F R E E.

The idea came from chief executive’s wife Phil Libin. Libin asked her how the company might improve the lives of its employees and their families. These kind of perks are definitely an upgrade from cafeteria meals or other services to make employees feel recognized, but any type of recognition, no matter how big or small will minimize distractions and sources of tension among employees.

“Happy workers make better products,” Libin said. “The output we care about has everything to do with your state of mind.”

4. Collect feedback post-onboarding


The first 90 days are crucial for a new hire. A research done by The Wynhurst Group showed that a 20% employee turnover happens in the first 45 days. By getting feedback from employees, you’ll be able to know how new hires are benefiting from their onboarding process. You could have a very engaging and interactive program, but if employees don’t think it’s useful, then you’re just wasting their time and your money. An onboarding survey is a great way to receive employee feedback during their onboarding process, and a fantastic way to help future candidates when going through the same process.

In your onboarding survey, ask the new hires how their onboarding process is going with these sample questions:

  • What has been the most beneficial part of the onboarding process?
  • Is there anything you would like to add/change to make the process a bit easier?
  • On a scale from 1 to 5, how welcomed did you feel on your first day?
  • Is the job what you expected it to be?
  • What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?

Nevada shoe-selling company Zappos, is known for its original strategy and determined execution when it comes to its employees, especially their new hires. For those of you not familiar with Zappos, the 1.2 billion dollar company gets its success from not only satisfying customers, but also for their way of new employee hiring, where employees are trained for a 4-week period and immerse themselves in the company’s culture, strategy and obsession with customers according to Bill Taylor from Harvard Business Review.

AND they are still getting paid their full salary during this period. After a week or so, Zappos introduces the new hires with what they call “The Offer”

“If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” (Yes, you are reading this right)

But, WHY? Because if you are willing to take up on the offer, it’s obvious you’re not really committed to the company and this is not what Zappos is looking for. The level of energy Zappos is known for makes them stand out from other companies. What’s interesting is how only ten percent of new call-center employees take the money and run.

Get acquainted and check in regularly to help them improve and empower them during the onboarding process. Many organizations miss out on the opportunity to receive valuable feedback during the first few weeks in the new job. Show off your company’s amazing culture by improving your onboarding program and implementing a simple 5-minute employee onboarding survey. In the end, it’s the emotional connection that seals the deal.

5. Be accessible to the new employees

giphy.gif Allow new hires to have a one-on-one meeting after their day is over to see what expectations they have and how the team will help them during the first couple of weeks. Be available to any questions or concerns they may have while on the job, have informal one-on-ones between HR and the employee to ensure your new hire is still on a good path and provide a small review regarding their progress. Offer transparency and most importantly, listen to them! The new employee will feel fully integrated into the company. Don’t forget to thank them for their good work and honesty. Try asking:

  • Should onboarding be longer? shorter? or was it just about right?
  • Do you feel you have the knowledge you have to succeed?
  • Is there anything you wish you had been told?

Employee onboarding is a great way to build presence and create outreach. There’s a lot to take into consideration when preparing employee onboarding, it’s crucial to let the new employees feel welcomed and most importantly: to let them experience your company’s culture and guide them every step of the way. A very well designed and thoughtful onboarding process can be a great experience for the new hire, mentor and overall company.

Do you have another practice your company has that we may have missed? Share your knowledge by leaving your comments below!


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