May 20th, 8:59 am
Introducing a new member to the organization is a delicate matter. It may take time and combined effort for a new hire to relate to the company’s culture. At times, the first few weeks or months of the new employee is crucial in determining their success in your organization.
When it comes to employee onboarding, there’s no such thing as going overboard. After all, you only get one chance in making a first and lasting impression.
This article contains the following tips to create the best employee onboarding experiences for your new cohorts:
Being a new person in the workplace can sometimes feel lonely. Statements like ‘Is this the right workplace for me?’ or ‘What projects will I be working on?’ arise. These are just a barrage of questions floating around in every new hire’s mind.
While the overwhelming feeling of navigating through a new workplace seems inevitable, it doesn’t always have to feel grim. A well-designed buddy system can bring in a friendly approach to a new hire’s introduction.
Here are a couple of ways you can make the buddy system work for you:
Choose the right buddy: Have a framework where a new hire and a current employee match. The buddy should also be someone competent and willing to be part of the program.
Set expectations: Proper expectation setting should be done before an employee takes his role as a new hire buddy. Have a structured checklist for your employee to act as a reference point in this new role.
Define a timeline: The goal of the buddy system is to help the new hire settle in your work environment. When the familiarity sinks in, your new hire can stand on his feet, and he might not need an onboarding buddy anymore. Consider your timelines and include this in your framework.
In a physical environment, a new hire is greeted with a new workstation. In a remote setup, however, the physical space remains the same. Consider putting in new material into your new hire’s home office or wherever his/her work station may be.
Your welcome kit should also scream what your brand is all about. For a fitness company, it can be a healthy snack box or fitness essentials. For a tech company, it can be headphones or gadgets.
Here are some suggestions we have in mind:
If your company shoulders the work equipment for your remote employees, consider having these shipped to the new hire’s address before his first day. This is only a superficial step though. The onboarding effort should not only be about the welcome gift. Make this a compliment to your extensive onboarding program.
When you think of team lunches and eat-outs in remote work, the idea seems to be out of the question. This shouldn’t be the case, however, since you can always put in your creativity to make it work. Lunches or dinners are good ways to bring in a new member because it takes out formal and sometimes awkward ways of introducing a new person.
You can send vouchers to your employees so they can order food on their own. Some companies set a budget per person and reimburse their food purchases after. Or you can eat each of your home-cooked meals together.
Fid out some cooking experiences for your team to get to know each other.
Here’s an icebreaker game that acts as an indirect way of getting to know each other. Each person tells three things about themselves, and the rest of the group guess which of the statements are true and which one is a lie. The group will be filled with surprises and laughs as they learn more about each other.
For more ideas on icebreaker games, check out this post on fun games to play on Zoom with coworkers.
A quick 10 to 15-minute video call is a great way for a new hire to socialize with the rest of the team. While you may prepare questions ahead of time, set a laid-back, casual atmosphere for your new hire and the rest of the team to feel relaxed and open to conversations. Choose your cup of coffee or tea to add to the session.
If you don’t have a buddy system in place yet, the Donut slack bot can be a good alternative not just for your new hire but for the entire team. It’s an app purely designed to give your employees avenues to catch up.
Donut randomly pairs each employee every three weeks. A chatbox opens for each pair, and the donut bot reminds the matched employees about their agreed meeting. Pairs can opt for a quick video call, virtual coffee, or any other activity that they deem best.
There is a long list of Slack apps that you can use for your next onboarding program. Check out our post on fun slack apps for remote teams.
Jumping from the first day to work might not be the most effective idea to make an initial impression on your new team member. Cut the new person some slack and introduce happy hour into the onboarding experience.
Gather your team for an after-work activity filled with virtual games and icebreakers. In the middle of activities, you can insert time to introduce your new team member. In this way, your engagement efforts are not only limited to your new hires but your current employees as well.
Remember being the new kid in the workplace being introduced to different people and getting their names all jumbled in your head? If you have a handful of new hires, you can get them together and play a name game. It’s quite fun and easy to do!
You can start first by letting the new hires introduce themselves with their real names. Afterwards, ask them to change the name on their screens to the funniest pseudonym they can think of. Call them out again one by one this time by their fake names and have the other team members say their real names. Whoever gets the real name of another team member, wins a prize.
It’s tempting to just shove waves and waves of lectures and PowerPoint slides to your new hire on their first few days. While it saves you time, you might just potentially bore your new employee with lots of information and eventually lose the chance to make a good impression.
You can insert fun ways on your employee orientation by doing a welcome scavenger hunt. This way, fun and learning are combined, and you will have your new hire feel excited.
Here are some tasks that you can include:
You can also put in questions about the company:
Check out some Scavenger Hunt activities.
If you’re looking for a less formal way of introducing a new cohort of employees, you might want to dip your toe into a trivia game. Who doesn’t like trivia anyway?
To get your pieces together, ask your new hires to fill out a survey containing lots of questions about them. Use their answers as the basis for your trivia questions. You can host this activity over Kahoot, a trivia platform designed where you can find trivia templates of different sorts. Their free version allows you to get your game going with 5-10 people for free.
How many times were we handed an employee handbook only to just flip through the pages of its lengthy content through and through? Investing in an interactive yet still informational handbook pays off as it will serve as your employee’s compass in the workplace.
Here are some alternatives to the traditional employee handbook prints:
Change Your Design: Leave the lengthy texts behind and consider redesigning your entire handbook to brief but concise statements. Pop in a few bold letters and bright colors here and there to catch the reader’s attention. Here’s how ZGM, a marketing agency in Alberta, Canada did it.
Insert Images and Wit: Visuals play a big role in catching people’s attention. It’s an untapped strategy in making employee handbooks. You can insert some funny cartoon drawings as covers for each chapter in the handbook or bring in some humor to your titles and headlines, like how Valve did it. Education First (EF) drew inspiration from drawings on children’s books as a uniform background for their handbook. Use your imagination and you’ll be surprised at the results.
Some companies call this the ‘First 100 Days’. Whatever title it takes, it all boils down to making a carefully thought plan to drive your new hire to success. Here are some suggested contents:
This is a good compliment to the buddy system, where a buddy can also act as an accountability partner.
We all know that an employee’s first day is not the real first day. Day zero starts the moment someone decided to join your organization. The desire of someone to succeed in your company takes its first step from the time they accepted your offer.
With this in mind, take the opportunity to build a connection early on. You can send them videos and learning materials to prepare them for their first day, first week, or even the first few months. It shows how excited you are to build a working relationship with them.
Here are some suggestions:
This is an activity designed to foster mindfulness. Although not technically an onboarding activity, you can use this as a way of showing your new hire how encouraging and supportive your work environment is.
To do this, define what each of the terms represents:
Give the group at least 30 minutes to think and jot down their ideas. Afterwards, each one shares their rose, thorn, and bud with the group.
This one is something you should not forget. It’s easy to make and will only take a few minutes of your time. Send the announcement via email or Slack. A welcome template with the new hire’s photo is a simple but sweet gesture. Be sure to include a line or two about the new kid on the block.
Above all the things discussed, it’s important to remember that your new employees are as valuable as your current ones. They have the massive potential to assume bigger roles and more significant responsibilities in the future.
In addition, engaging your employee should not only stop in the integration stage. Once fully on-boarded, continue to track progress and provide support as one takes on new challenges.
Since it’s being done remotely, the onboarding practices are more challenging. It requires creativity on the part of the organization and more ways of reaching out to the new person. In turn, a remote worker also makes more effort in understanding the organization’s work culture.
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