/ Employee onboarding

Simple steps to improve your new employee onboarding

We’ve been quiet on the blog the last couple of months because yep, you’ve got it, we’ve had three new starters in as many months! Turns out onboarding people well takes up a lot of time. Who knew.

In the spirit of that we thought now would be a good time to share what we think are some simple things you can do that will improve the employee experience for your new starter.

A much quoted study from Lazlo Bock at Google (in Work Rules) shows that just giving your new managers a checklist can reduce a new starter’s ramp time by 25%. With a little more prep you can have a big impact.

Talk to them throughout their notice period

Onboarding starts before your new hire does. Throughout the recruitment process you will have been focussed on keeping the hire updated, moving them through each stage of interview and making sure they accept your offer over someone else’s! It’s at this point, contract signed that companies can forget to carry this through to their first day.

This discrepancy can create doubts. What if working at this place isn’t what I thought it would be? Have they forgotten me? Was this the right move?

You can alleviate this by:

  • Introducing them to their manager as soon their offer is accepted. Set up a coffee or breakfast for a few week's time.

  • Invite them to any team or company events happening between their offer and when they start. That way they’ll know a bunch of people before their first day and feel like they’re already part of the team.

  • Post them any stash - t-shirts/hoodies/socks/books

  • Send them something by email weekly. Assuming a month notice period we use Personably to send out:

    1. Congrats on your offer + here’s what you can expect from us over the next month
    2. Email asking for payroll information and asking about equipment (colour of laptop/iphone or android), anything else?
    3. That month’s investor update email
    4. Any relevant articles the team are reading and discussing that week
    5. What to expect on your first day - rough agenda, office location, time to start (we always start people at 11am on the first day to give everyone else time to set up), dress code

Assign a buddy to take them for lunch on their first day

Assign someone to be their buddy! (that person doesn’t have to be the same team). Then introduce them via email before they start and then in person on their first day. The buddy can take the new person for lunch (on the company) on the first day (book it in everyone’s calendars in advance so it doesn’t get forgotten).

It gives the new person someone on their peer level to chat to in their first months that is not someone they report to. They can ask questions more freely. It also helps them feel welcomed into the company - people were expecting them to arrive and have planned something in advance. You should also schedule another coffee at the end of their first month and each month of the probation period.

Have a plan

When someone starts they don’t want to spend their first few days sitting quietly while their manager figures out what they should work on. Plan in advance the projects you’ll give them, the team members they need to meet and the things they need to learn to be able to take on those projects. Things change but having that basic roadmap will give you a guide to keep you and your new hire on track. For some inspiration go and find the last person who started in the team and learn what they wished they would have known.

Also ask the new person to come in an hour later than everyone else does on their first day. It means if people get delayed by trains, urgent meetings or childcare your new person isn’t waiting around at reception wondering if they’ve been forgotten (this seems to happen a lot).

Expose them to different roles, teams and your customers

This is so important in their first week to give them the context to do their job well (important enough I wrote a whole post about it). It builds empathy between teams, sets them up for working in a cross functional way and will make them better at their job (difficult to design a product if you’ve never sat with the sales/support team while they try to sell/unbreak it). We’ve seen companies keep this ongoing by setting up random coffee/lunch meets between different individuals each week.

At Personably we get our new starter to come to at least one sales or customer success in-person meeting in their first week and it’s come back as the most useful thing we do every time.

Ask for feedback early on

Tell a new starter upfront that you’re always looking to improve your processes and the way you do things (and give examples where you’ve implemented people’s suggestions before). By giving them permission to give feedback you’ll learn a lot more. Ask them at the end of each day what’s worked and what hasn’t.