We consider the purpose of onboarding to be the following:
- To transfer skills, knowledge and expectations related to the role
- To lay the expectations of employee conduct and values, and therefore their future behaviour
- To integrate them within the team, leading to a more fruitful and fun work experience
- To onboard a human, not a job role
We have some basic principles we work with to make each onboarding experience a true success.
It starts before they start
When we think of onboarding, we usually think of someone’s first three months in the job, but the truth is that the onboarding experience starts before the employee does.
Once a contract is signed, this is when the onboarding starts in earnest. The Lead and HR will meet soon after, to structure the new employee's first day, weeks, and months into an onboarding plan.
The purpose of this plan is to give the new employee a guide on their start, their responsibilities, and naturally, what they can expect from the onboarding process itself. This document will also include a welcome FAQ, a table of their first week of meetings, who they will be meeting, and each meeting’s purpose.
Importantly, we then share this document with the new hire at least a week before they start, giving them plenty of time to think of any questions they may have, and to digest the information they’ve been given.
That’s not the only contact that the new hire will have before starting though. The Marketing team will be reaching out to our future colleagues, to prepare a welcome blog for their arrival and announce it to the world. The IT team will also write to the new hire, to ensure they have the correct access and tools from day one, and to arrange logins before their start, so we avoid the first-day frustration of IT issues.
We’ve found it can be really useful to involve multiple colleagues in the “pre-start” communication to the new hire, rather than just leaving it to HR or the Lead. It starts the integration and “getting to know you” process casually and organically. It can also help set the Amazee Labs standard of open and transparent communication early on, as there isn’t one gatekeeper controlling all information flow to the new hire.
HR leads all of our onboarding, and in order to keep the standards high, they track each onboarding via monday.com. For us, it’s important that each onboarding is tracked so that nothing is missed which may put a new hire at a disadvantage compared to their peers.
Any project management tool/HR System could work, but the key point is to have a shared, centralised point of information, tasks, and updates for the onboarding team to work from. This saves confusion and leads to a better onboarding experience for everyone.
It’s very important to get the “fun” parts of onboarding right, but it's no less important to be well structured and efficient. A nice hoody or T-shirt will do little to welcome the new hire, if they are surrounded by the chaos, frustration and lack of productivity of a poorly organised onboarding.
Create an inclusive process
Inclusivity is important to us. We don’t want to create a process that only works for one type of person, and to be honest we also can’t do this. As a remote-friendly company, we actively require processes that are largely digital, easy, and efficient for anyone we hire, no matter their circumstances.
Throughout the process, we try to do as much digitally as possible and to always have accessibility in mind. Not everyone can get to a scanner/printer to send back paperwork for example. If you’re onboarding a remote worker, or someone with disabilities, don’t assume they can get to a post office to pick up packages.
We get hardware such as their work laptop delivered along with their swag to their front door. All of our paperwork is digital and can be digitally signed, and any documents they need will be stored in shared folders on Google Workspace, making sure they can access anything they need from anywhere in the world.
Onboard the culture, as well as the role
Once the employee starts, our first priority is to get them integrated into the team and the company values. We try to keep our new colleagues away from real task-related work in their first week, and instead use it as an opportunity for them to have the space to meet new peers and learn about our culture, processes and systems. The first meeting they have will be with HR, introducing our company values, benefits, and culture, followed by a meeting with their new lead focusing on the new hire’s role within the wider company goals.
After this they will meet specialists from different areas, depending on their role, but generally speaking, we like them to meet everyone at the company in their first week (sometimes in 1-2-1, sometimes in group standup meetings). We don’t overload them with tasks or information in their first week, we just give them space to get to know the team, the company, and to get used to their new working environment, tools, and importantly, make sure that they understand their key place in the company and its future.
Check-ins and Introductions
During the onboarding process, the lead and new hire will have quick check-ins rather than long informative or direction-heavy meetings, designed to give the employee the freedom to soak up information at their own pace. HR will also have a meeting with the new hire after their first week, to obtain feedback on their onboarding experiences thus far and of those during the hiring process to make sure we are consistently refining our approach.
It’s also important to make the whole team aware of the new hire; nobody likes the awkwardness of “who’s the newbie?”– least of all the newbie. We tend to go all out, welcoming our new colleague on company-wide Slack messages, via social posts on Twitter and Linkedin, and internally in our monthly Group-wide meetings, which includes a welcome slide introducing them to everyone in the Amazee Group.
Much like The Simpsons, onboarding never truly ends. New colleagues, processes, tools etc will continue to be introduced throughout the employee’s career. However, a time will come when you have to let the new hire loose on the world if they are to feel fulfilled in their role.
The onboarding phase is the first and best opportunity a company has to introduce a new colleague to their culture and expectations. And when designing that onboarding process, it’s important to ask yourself two questions:
- Is this process as inclusive and easy for the employee as is feasible? and
- Are we setting the right tone and leading by example with regards to our behavioural and role expectations of the new employee?
TL:DR? Here you go then…
Here’s what we think you can do to create a great onboarding experience for new hires:
- Introduce them to the company values and culture, and set the right expectations immediately.
- Don’t leave it to the new employee to seek information or make introductions; be proactive in setting up meetings for them, and in making sure the whole team is aware of them, their role, and their purpose in the organisation from day one.
- Give the new hire time to settle in, don’t pressure them to perform in the first week.
- Encourage feedback at every turn and ensure inclusivity is part of the process throughout.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to a good onboarding. However, if you follow the principles of a consistent process, clear, transparent and frequent communication, easy accessibility, and prioritising integration over tasks then you should be on the right track!
If you’d like to find out more about how we work and our philosophy, or you’d be interested to join us, then check out our open positions!