What does your onboarding experience say about your company values and culture?

Your people have invested countless hours and brainpower defining and living out your company’s unique culture and values. But how is this reflected in your company’s onboarding experience?

If you’re an onboarding advocate looking to shift your company’s view from a short-term paperwork process to a strategic people program, take a step up. Look at how your existing program demonstrates (or doesn’t) what’s important to your company and your people. Yes, you must gather the required information. But how you gather that information matters. This is how your new hires are evaluating the ‘fit’. They’re reading in between the lines to see if this is a company, a manager, a team, and a cause with which they connect.

Here are a few examples of how the right new hire experience can represent far more than a step in a process or a box on a checklist:

We value you and your time. Time is a precious commodity and we’ve all grown accustomed to relying on digital channels for convenience. Give new hires a digital experience that guides them through their tasks and activities, making it easy to stay on track and feeling confident they’re ready for Day 1. Minimize the time required for the ‘not so fun’ paperwork aspects by pre-populating with recruiting data and using e-signatures. Use personalized communications to show your new employee they’re more than just an ID number. And give them the opportunity to own their own employee profile, allowing them to add information about their experience, capabilities, and what they’re passionate about.

We operate as a team. Joining a new and established team can be intimidating. Make your new hires feel welcome and included by incorporating a team aspect into your onboarding program. Assign a new hire buddy to help them get up to speed and introduce the ins and outs of their new role. Pre-schedule meetings, 1:1s, or a team lunch to take the onus off the new hire, including both your direct team as well as others they’ll be working with.

We are committed to your success. There’s a lot of unknowns and pressures coming into a new company and new role. Show new hires you’re thinking long-term to help them think long-term by making it clear how their success impacts the success of the team and company. Integrate goals and objectives on Day 1 to set clear expectations of how success is defined and rewarded. And ensure early-on contributions are recognized with programs such as spot awards.

We have fun! The amount of information to ingest when starting a new job can be overwhelming. Balance the info-overload with elements that show your company’s personality. Incorporate ‘work hard, play hard’ videos into the pre-day one and welcome experience – showing what makes your company tick, highlighting employee initiatives and events, capturing genuine sentiment from your people, etc. Include new hire connection events (virtually or in person) and social collaboration boards – with the goal of getting to know each other, not to talk about work. And send/give a swag box that includes more than a uniform, laptop, or branded coffee mug 🙂

We value continued learning and development. A large majority of today’s workforce are looking for more than just a job and a steady paycheck – we’re looking for continued growth and thinking of future opportunities. Once the required trainings are complete (which should extend beyond compliance to cover company/role specific trainings), give your new employees visibility into the options available for continued learnings. This should include opt-in courses based on interest versus mandate to support curious learners. Incorporate an introduction to your mentoring program and spotlight employees who have leveraged this relationship to show the tangible benefits, from a peer’s point of view.

We strive for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Many companies have incorporated their DE&I initiatives into their employer brand and recruiting efforts, but the onboarding experience needs to put these into action. Ensure people have the adequate tools and access to do their job well, based on their specific needs, working and learning styles, language preference, etc. Incorporate your Employee Resource Groups and make it easy to connect with these teams moving forward. Structure your team meetings to allow every voice to be heard, including fresh perspectives from your new hires. And be mindful that your onboarding program content and participants represent the many faces, mindsets, skillsets, and personalities of your organization.

We appreciate feedback and are open to changeAsking for someone’s feedback, in the workplace or our personal lives, shows that you value the person’s opinion. This idea of ‘my opinion matters and I have the potential to drive change’ is empowering. So, while a new hire survey following an onboarding program may seem tactical, this can be the first step in showing your commitment to delivering an employee experience that is helpful, intuitive, accessible, etc. And your willingness to listen and continually adapt.

Onboarding is so much more than paperwork and workflows. The technology to bring these strategic people programs and experiences to life is ready and available – but the shift in mindset must happen in parallel. I challenge talent acquisition teams to review your onboarding program experiences and see how they align (or don’t align) to your company’s values and culture. Use this experience mapping to push for better and show how experience wins when it comes to making the most of this critical transition point for your new employees.