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Experience Design: Best Practices for Employee Onboarding
HR Guest Contributor
February 14, 2017

What’s our #1 wish for employees? For them to be fully involved and enthusiastic about their work —  you know, those go-getters who help further your organization's objectives, output, and reputation.

As you’ve probably read, only 32% of U.S. employees are engaged at work — meaning optimum performance and profitability of the other 68% is escaping most businesses. For the majority of U.S. companies that are missing out on the benefits of a fully-engaged workforce, your first place to start is simple - the moment they walk through your doors on their first day.  Otherwise known as Employee Onboarding — and the first stage of the active employee lifecycle.

It all starts with crafting a strategic employee onboarding program — one that goes beyond just accommodating new hires with benefits, paperwork, and workstation set-up. To effectively accelerate new hires to full productivity, you’ll also need to focus on employee engagement and experience when designing your employee onboarding program. 

Check out these quick best practices for an engaging employee onboarding experience, beginning with their first day:

1) Plan for an Engaging First Day

The first day sets the stage. When welcoming new hires to your team, work environment, and immersing them in your company culture, there are strategic ways to set them up for early and ongoing success.

1. Offer a welcome gift to show you’re happy they’ve joined the team. Instead of the stale welcome balloon or coffee mug, get creative with first day gifts.

2. Plan a first day lunch, so that new hires feel less like interviewees and more like team members.

3. Ensure their desks are fully set up and ready to go, with a bit of customization.

2) Build Relationships with Social Onboarding

Social onboarding goes beyond first day introductions. For an engaging experience, the entire organization must play their role to help new hires build relationships that will contribute to their employee engagement.

1. Implement a Buddy Program to pair new hires with a volunteer who’s passionate about welcoming new team members. The core purpose of a Buddy Program is engagement, assimilation, and friendship. Buddies should share useful information to help with a new hire’s cultural acclimation, such as:

See more best practices for Buddy Programs online here

2. Encourage team building during Employee Onboarding to promote collaboration and productivity.  For example:

3. Keep employee profiles in a central onboarding portal, where your staff can familiarize themselves with new hires and the new hires will have a directory of reference for those they’re meeting along the way.

Some things to include in an employee profile:

3) Communicate your Mission, Vision, and Values

Total employee engagement is a product of alignment with your company’s mission, vision, and values. Before you can work towards alignment, you first need to paint a picture that shows new hires what these elements look like. Begin communicating your mission, vision, and values as soon as a new hire joins the team.

1. Teach them about your company’s history. Not by throwing dates and numbers at them, but by making it personal through storytelling — the goal is to make employees feel like a part of something bigger.

2. Familiarize them with your product. Whether that’s navigating around your business’ online platform, wearing your brand’s clothing, or drinking your most popular brew — your new hires can’t become engaged employees before getting to know your product first-hand. For example:

3. Identify and communicate your core values, then empower new hires to act on them.  

4) Leverage Technology to Optimize Engagement

With today’s available resources, it’s important to recognize and leverage technology that can optimize employee engagement. Here are a few ways to introduce technology into the Employee Onboarding process:

By building an engaging onboarding experience, you’re setting up new hires to move forward as fully engaged employees — increasing retention, enhancing company culture, and advancing your overall business outcomes.

Author Bio:

Jeni Fahy is a Content Specialist at Sapling, a culture-first organization helping People Ops leaders deliver employee onboarding programs with consistency, visibility, and analytics. If you’re interested in enhancing your employee experience with strategic employee onboarding, schedule a demo with the Sapling team.

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