Onboarding Best Practices

Onboarding Best Practices

We are back with our Experts on Employee Experience Webinar Series. It is a monthly webinar series where Jade Choy, Epoch’s CEO, has conversations with leaders and innovators in the Employee Experience and engagement space. Today’s topic is Onboarding Best Practices. 

In case you missed it, here are some key learnings and takeaways from our webinar featuring Marques Morgan, People Program Manager, Onboarding at DoorDash, Sofia Han, HR Operations Associate at Nerd Wallet, and Holly Hatlo, Senior HR Business Partner at Hatch.

View the full recording here. Scroll on for notes!

Meet the speakers 🎤

Marques was interested in human behavior, which led him to enroll in San Francisco State University, where he would receive his bachelor's degree in Psychology. Twilio then gave him the opportunity to work on the Employee Experience team where he would find his passion for EX. Marques is now the People Program Manager, Onboarding at DoorDash.

Holly has 10+ years of experience as an exuberant & effective leader in People Operations for high-growth tech startups. Holly is an enthusiastic facilitator who loves to create spaces for meaningful learning, leadership development, belonging, community, feedback, mutual understanding, and profound growth. Holly is the Senior HR Business Partner at Hatch.

Sofia is passionate about providing an exceptional employee experience and streamlining people operations. When she is not working, she enjoys cooking new recipes, traveling around the world, and dancing to her favorite songs! Sofia is the HR Operations Associate at NerdWallet. 

Workplace at DoorDash, Nerd Wallet, and Hatch

When discussing onboarding, it’s essential to understand the context and structure that companies use to welcome their new hires. Marques shared that Doordash is a blend of virtual and in-person work, accommodating a diverse workforce of around 12,000 employees. At Doordash, the onboarding process is a collective effort, involving the Employee Experience team and the new hire’s manager. The company focuses on a 90-day onboarding experience, split between company-wide introductions to culture and benefits and team-specific onboarding.

Sophia from NerdWallet shares a different perspective, describing NerdWallet as a remote-first company with about 730 employees. Their onboarding process begins with an orientation in the first two days, ensuring new hires receive essential information, such as benefits and workspace set-up. The onboarding extends throughout the first week, with regular check-ins at 30, 60, and 90-day milestones. Multiple departments, including HR, IT, and L&D, collaborate to ensure a smooth onboarding experience, emphasizing the importance of team involvement in the process. 

Holly from Hatch, shared that their onboarding process is entirely remote, given their fully remote workforce. They focus on pre-onboarding communication to set clear expectations and excitement for the new hires. The onboarding experience includes a “drip campaign” orientation, introducing company values, mission, and vision gradually. Peer support and mentorship play a crucial role in helping new hires acclimate to their roles, with HR business partners checking in to ensure they have the necessary resources and support. 

Importance of peer support in onboarding

Marques further elaborates on the importance of peer support and mentorship in the onboarding process. He introduces the “10 Friends Initiatives” where new hires receive a welcome letter from their manager and ten selected colleagues, fostering a sense of community and excitement. This initiative extends beyond the initial introduction with new hires engaging in one-on-one and virtual meetings to build rapport with their colleagues. Additionally, a new hire connections program connects employees who started within a similar timeframe, offering a support system and creating a sense of belonging from day one.

Holly also emphasizes the importance of having an onboarding buddy or “10 friends” to help new hires acclimate to their roles. Having a dedicated person to guide them through processes, share resources, and bridge social connections significantly contributes to making new hires feel supported and valued.

Overall, pairing new hires with onboarding buddies fosters empathy and connection, especially in a remote work environment, This allows new hires to gain insights into the company culture and adjust to the remote work landscape more seamlessly. Similarly, opening company sessions to all employees encourages participation and enables veterans to learn from new hires’ questions and perspectives. 

Leveraging technology for onboarding success

In today’s digital age, technology is pivotal in enhancing the onboarding experience. Sofia shares how their company utilizes the Donut integration on Slack to facilitate connections between new hires and their onboarding buddies. This tool keeps everyone updated and ensures that new hires meet with their assigned buddies. A #welcome Slack channel is created to introduce new hires to the entire organization, fostering a sense of community from Day 1. Scheduled notifications and reminders on Slack are sent out to inform new hires about upcoming tasks, training sessions, and important deadlines. 

At DoorDash, a detailed 90-day onboarding journey is facilitated through Slack. This approach allows for scheduled updates and reminders about important tasks such as training and benefit enrollment. By breaking down the orientation and onboarding into manageable, scheduled pieces, new hires can absorb information without feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, integrating tools like Loom for video recordings adds a personal touch to the onboarding process, especially in a remote setting.

Creative Onboarding Activities 

Creating a sense of cohesion in remote or hybrid work environments can be challenging. Marques shares some creative onboarding activities he has implemented, such as the “WeDash” program at DoorDash, where new hires step into the shoes of a Dasher, picking up and delivering DoorDash orders to customers. This allows every team member at DoorDash to understand the customer experience better while fostering a strong company culture. 

Building personal connections and leadership involvement 

Personal connections and leadership involvement are essential for a successful onboarding experience. To have a successful onboarding experience, leaders should actively participate in onboarding sessions, demonstrating transparency and passion for the company. A valuable initiative is one-on-one face time with executives, allowing new hires to understand the company’s vision, mission, and values directly from the leader.

Collecting feedback for continuous improvement

Feedback plays a crucial role in refining the onboarding process. Holly emphasizes the importance of collecting feedback from new hires to understand what aspects of the onboarding process are working well and what areas need improvement. This data-driven approach ensures that the onboarding process remains effective and aligned with the needs and expectations of new hires. Tailoring survey questions to focus on different aspects of the onboarding experience,  such as day-one experiences, pre-boarding, and orientation, helps gather comprehensive feedback. Multiple-choice questions, free-text responses, and rating scales can be utilized to gauge new hires’ feelings and thoughts about their onboarding journey. 

Kahoot serves as a game-changing tool for gathering feedback and assessing new hires’ knowledge retention. It allows for interactive surveys that not only collect data but also engage participants through quizzes and games, gamifying the onboarding experience. This approach facilitates storytelling with data, making it easier to communicate findings and identify areas for improvement.

Continuous onboarding throughout the employee lifecycle

Onboarding shouldn’t be limited to new hires’ first week or month. Continuous learning and development should be integrated throughout the employee’s journey at the company. Regular check-ins, training sessions, and access to essential information ensure that employees remain engaged and informed as they progress in their roles. 

Onboarding content should be dynamic and adaptable to changing circumstances, group sizes, and business needs. Regularly refreshing the content and making it accessible through platforms like Notion ensures that the information remains relevant and useful for new hires. 

Tailoring the onboarding process to fit your team’s unique needs and culture is essential. Identify what resonates most with your team and incorporate those elements into your onboarding strategy. This ensures that new hires not only understand the company’s products or services but also feel connected to its vision and mission from day one. 

Interactive and asynchronous learning platforms

Creating a mixed environment of live and asynchronous learning opportunities can significantly enhance the onboarding experience. Platforms like Candor, which help new hires build profiles and share personal insights, encourage meaningful connections among team members. These interactions are beneficial for building a cohesive team dynamic and facilitating a deeper understanding of each other’s work styles and personal backgrounds. Incorporating icebreaker questions into onboarding activities using tools like Google Forms helps new hires build relationships and feel more integrated into the company culture. Encouraging interactions outside of formal onboarding sessions also contributes to new hires feeling a sense of belonging.

Using platforms that allow for the creation of an interactive onboarding learning path can help new hires navigate their early days with the company more effectively. Such platforms enable employees to pace their learning and access resources on demand, reducing the fatigue associated with long, uninterrupted training sessions. 

Balancing communication without overwhelming new hires

Maintaining a balance between providing information and avoiding information overload is crucial during onboarding. Communicating expectations and pacing the delivery of information prevents overwhelming new hires. Incorporating breaks during orientation sessions and utilizing asynchronous communication channels allows new hires to process information at their own pace and avoid burnout.

Tips & Tricks

Recognize that every company’s orientation process may vary. Experiment with different activities and methods to find what works best for your organization. Share ideas and learn from others, as diverse perspectives can lead to innovative and effective onboarding practices. 

Maintaining an open mindset and embracing creativity are key to refining your onboarding process. Iterate on your approach based on feedback and results, and don’t hesitate to discard strategies that aren’t effective. Continuously striving for improvements will help you create a more engaging and impactful onboarding experience. 

Involve new hires in the onboarding process by sharing highlights, success stories, and company events. Keeping them informed and engaged throughout their onboarding journey helps build excitement and a sense of belonging from the start. 

Stay connected with cross-functional partners, managers, and leadership teams to ensure alignment and collaboration throughout the onboarding journey. Regular check-ins and updates can help keep everyone informed and engaged, fostering a cohesive and supportive onboarding environment. 

How Epoch can help

Many organizations have small or stretched Employee Experience teams. Epoch is here to help make internal event planning easy. 

Use Epoch to plan your employee events and programs, then track analytics on how the events went! Epoch is an employee engagement platform used by people teams at companies like Reddit, Asana, and more. Epoch supports any internal event through email, Slack announcements and reminders, calendaring, and reporting. On top of impactful engagement and feedback analytics, Epoch provides a simple way to communicate and promote events to your workforce, helping events reach employees where they prefer to receive messages.

Increase productivity and connection among employees through company culture with Epoch. Curious to learn more? Book a demo today!

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