Think you know what new hire onboarding looks like? If you see visions of stuffy conference rooms and stacks of paperwork, it might be time for a little image overhaul.
Onboarding is more than just handing out building keys and filling out tax forms—it’s a process of helping new hires become masters, mentors, and advocates, meaning they feel completely competent in their own role, able to coach and support others, and excited about representing your company to the outside world.
There’s no question that this is a lot of work, which is why it helps to have a little backup. The responsibility of onboarding doesn’t have to rest on the shoulders of one person; it can be (and is better when) it’s shared among everyone at your organization.
This philosophy has guided the Greenhouse approach to onboarding. Cheryl Roubian, Director of Talent Management at Greenhouse, puts it this way: “We aim to have our existing staff feel ownership of the onboarding and ramp-up of every new hire. Having everyone involved in the process keeps onboarding front-of-mind in the org—it’s not just how fast we grow, but how fast we can get people to a place where they feel productive and successful.”
Looking for some specific tips on how can you involve the whole company in new hire onboarding? Read on for our 6 suggestions!
1. Get the people who know the content best to present your onboarding sessions
There are a lot of things to share with new hires. You want to introduce them to your product, your philosophy, how you sell, where the product’s going, and how you serve your customers (to name just a few). Why not invite the people who know the most about those things to teach your new hires about them?
Here at Greenhouse, we front-load our first week of onboarding with content to add company-level context for the roles each new hire will be diving into. Most sessions include a brief summary of the department’s structure and function and then focus on how that department/role impacts the larger organization.
For example, on Day 2, an account executive from the Sales team introduces the Sales org and then provides a product demo just as they would to a prospective customer. On Day 3, a member of the Customer Success team introduces the Account Manager role and then walks new hires through the customer onboarding process.
These sessions help new hires learn more about the company and meet people from other departments. Cheryl explains, “This gives new hires exposure to and context around what other people in the company are working on, prioritizing, and delivering.” It also fosters collaboration between teams: “It’s a lot easier to work with someone else when you understand their needs up front.”
Also, employees love getting the chance to meet new hires—it gives both new hires and existing employees a chance to connect, which can be difficult when your organization is growing at breakneck speeds.
It’s proven very valuable for us at Greenhouse—even though our company went from 45 to 190 employees in 2015, in a lot of ways we still feel like a small company in part because so many people contribute to our onboarding process and get a chance to meet each class of new hires.
2. Create an open-door policy company-wide
A big part of any role is relationship building. This is especially true in large teams and companies, but it’s essential anywhere. New hires might know what projects they’ll be working on, but figuring out how to build relationships with all the people involved in those projects can take some time to figure out.
Managers can give their new hire a leg up by suggesting some people for their new hire to connect with. If your culture supports it, you can also simply encourage new hires to seek these types of meetings out on their own.
3. Start a buddy system for new hires
In addition to getting acquainted with their team and their job, new hires are also learning to navigate a new environment. They need to learn where the bathrooms are, how to work the coffee machine, and a ton of other tiny little things that are specific to your office, company, and culture. One way to help your newest employees feel more comfortable is to create a buddy system that pairs each new hire with someone who has a little more tenure at the company.
At Greenhouse, we pair each new employee with someone in a different department and then create a little structure to kick things off. For example, the buddies each take their new hire on an office tour right after their first onboarding session and then the buddies and their respective new hires all go to lunch together on their first day. This helps make sure new hires have a friendly face around the office and a peer to reach out to for those day-to-day types of questions.
The buddies get something out of the system, too. In addition to getting to meet all the new hires, buddies have the opportunity to reflect on what makes Greenhouse a unique place to work. By sharing that information with new hires, they’re helping to define and guide the company culture, which is a pretty big deal here!
4. Don’t forget introductions!
As your company grows, it can become increasingly difficult for employees to keep track of every new hire who joins. It helps to create a system for introducing your new employees to everyone else.
There are severals ways that you can handle these types of introductions. Here at Greenhouse, we use the Greenhouse Onboarding platform for this. New hires fill out their profiles and have the option to share everything from where they grew up and went to school to two truths and a lie. At the beginning of each week, all employees get an email that introduces the new hires who are starting along with a preview of their Greenhouse Onboarding profiles. Our office managers on both coasts also include org stats in their weekly newsletters, making it easy for employees to send a quick note to the new hire, add them on Slack, connect with them on LinkedIn, or start a quick conversation with them when they see them around the office.
You can also do this type of introduction in person or via Google Hangout at a company all hands meeting, depending on how frequently you meet (and hire new employees).
Giving new hires a warm welcome to the company is an essential part of onboarding—remember that in many cases they’ll be leaving behind a comfortable situation at their previous job. Their initial excitement about joining your company can easily be dampened if they feel like no one notices or cares that they’ve joined.
5. Involve your CEO or executive team
Depending on the size of your company, employees may or may not have regular access to your CEO or executives. If your company is smaller, you can organize a one-on-one or small group lunch or coffee between the new hire(s) and the CEO. If this isn’t realistic because of time or location constraints, you can still organize some type of meeting that allows new employees to interact with the CEO or executive team. Some companies hold a town hall or special party with just the newest employees (e.g. anyone who’s been hired within the past 100 days).
Even if employees don’t have the chance to interact with the CEO or executives on a regular basis, they should have an opportunity to meet them, preferably during their first few weeks at your company. Here at Greenhouse, our President, Jon Stross, takes the lead on the opening onboarding session, which kicks off the entire onboarding program. We also make sure each class of new hires gets to sit down for breakfast with our CEO, Daniel Chait, in their first month or two. Having a CEO who takes time to meet with employees demonstrates that growth and the future of the company are priorities. It also gives new hires a chance to ask questions and share insights that employees with more tenure might not have.
6. Ask for feedback from new hires
In an effort to involve the whole company in onboarding, there’s one group that often gets overlooked: the new hires themselves! Sure, they’re always involved as participants, but that doesn’t have to be their only role.
In many cases, the onboarding process is a one-way flow of information from the company to the new employee, but it doesn’t have to be this limited. You can show your new hires that they’re already having an impact on your company by asking for their feedback on the onboarding process. What worked well? What could be better? What types of improvements or changes would they suggest?
You may wish to collect this feedback in a survey—many companies send these to new hires at the end of their first week and month. You could also invite new employees to share suggestions directly with the People Team or whoever is responsible for your onboarding program. We do both at Greenhouse. You can choose whatever method makes the most sense based on your company size and structure.
Asking your new hires for feedback also gives you the opportunity to identify flight risks and try to correct them. If you’ve been gathering feedback/data and observe that a significant percentage of new hires leave at a particular landmark (after 90 days, for example), you can use that data to help identify where things start to fall off and correct any problems. You might even be able to use your data to anticipate where problems might turn up so you can take preventative steps to avoid them.
There are numerous benefits to building an onboarding program that involves the entire company: It shows new hires how much you truly value their presence, gives them exposure to and communication channels with members of every department, allows them to have a voice in the direction of your company, and of course, it just makes the entire process a lot more fun.
Melissa Suzuno is Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse, where she gets to share her love of the written word and endorse the use of the Oxford comma on a daily basis.
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