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18 Tips for your onboarding from Onboard.London 2020

A wide variety of speakers shed their light on the topic of #onboarding during the virtual conference Onboard.London 2020. Insights were shared by @Amazon, @HP, @Personio, @OPCW, @JoinTalent, @Appical, @Udder and @Yes! We Connect. In this blog I collected the best tips from these talks. 

The tips are categorized in 5 themes:

  • Design of the onboarding plan
  • Use of an onboarding app
  • Introduction day – live and/or virtual
  • Manager (and buddy) engagement 
  • ROI of onboarding

Design of the onboarding plan

From the talks of Amazon, HP, Personio and OPCW a lot of tips can be derived for the onboarding plan.

Tip 1. Interview new hires and freshly onboarded colleagues to find out what really matters to them. 

Amazon states that their staff is daily bugged for feedback on the work experience. The questions even pop up on the scanners in the warehouse, so warehouse employees can easily give their feedback. 

Tip 2. Also interview hiring managers and others in the organization about their needs. 

HP reports to have come across insights that could not have been thought up with just an organization perspective of onboarding.

Tip 3. Analyse your onboarding process and get rid of “the admin monster”.

This is how Personio calls all the bureaucracy that sits in the way of a smooth onboarding process. For instance having a desk, laptop, access and the rest ready before day one is crucial in the experience your new employees will have. Having this in place on day one is essential. And to top it off you can add a coffee mug, t-shirt, chocolate bar etc.

Tip 4. Map out the onboarding journey.

At OPCW the exercise of mapping out the onboarding journey brought some very valuable insights. Throughout the team that is responsible for the onboarding the priorities for the onboarding program shifted and a completely new and fresh program arose from that.

Also HP reports having this experience. And now they use the map of the onboarding journey in all communications to managers and new hires to indicate in which step they are and what to do in that step.

Tip 5. Focus on culture

Amazon is growing at a rate of over 30% annually. With a head count of 800.000 the numbers of new employees are huge. As key success factor Amazon identified the culture within the company. In the onboarding process Amazon stimulates behaviour that is essential for it’s culture.

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Use of an onboarding app

HP and OPCW use the Appical app for their onboarding. New hires report very high satisfaction and also managers have their own access and dashboards in the app. Amazon and Personio use other tools and see a similar response.

Tip 6. Use some sort of onboarding app

New hires really value these instruments for clarity on expectations, a warm welcome, insights in the job and the organization and practical information about for instance dress code, directions, lunch…

Tip 7. Start the onboarding from the moment the contract is signed.

The time between signing the contract and the first day on the job is often referred to as the preboarding phase. In a lot of cases you can use this phase to start setting up your new employee for success. Give them background information, introduce them to the team, etc.

Tip 8. Streamline your app for the onboarding journey.

The best app experience is achieved when setup of the app follows directly from the needs that your new hires have. These needs can be found on your onboarding journey map.

Start your free trial

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Introduction day – live and/or virtually

HP, Amazon and OPCW all reported having virtual introduction sessions in place for new hires. In my own talk I gave the audience 6 tips for their introduction day. These have been derived from my work with a wide variety of organizations like banks, consultancy firms, universities and government bodies. Here are the most important ones:

Tip 9. Information out – interaction in

An introduction day or session should be highly interactive. Flooding your new hires with information about your company will not make them feel welcome. Of course informing new hires is very important, but use the onboarding app for that and make your introduction session all about engaging them.

Tip 10. Be open to fresh perspectives

New people can bring you fresh perspectives on your business, plans, ways to collaborate, and many more. If you tap into this potential you will see that your company profits from this and at the same time your new hires will feel valued.

Tip 11. Go virtual

If a live meeting is not possible at the moment go for second best a virtual introduction session. You will find out that there is a lot more possible if you dive in all the options. An example is the option of going into breakouts (in Zoom and MS Teams). That is a really nice feature that you can use to get networking going amongst new hires or with other colleagues.

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Manager (and buddy) engagement

HP’s talk was focused on engaging managers and buddies in the onboarding process. The most interesting tips from HP were:

Tip 12. Supply your hiring managers with smart templates.

HP made checklists, email formats, pointers for one on one meetings, week plans and more. All these templates are highly valued by the managers. This makes the manager’s life easy. And at the same time it is a way to uniform the onboarding experience throughout the organization (quite a task at HP with over 50.000 employees).

Tip 13. Use apps like Appical to support your hiring managers.

In Appical managers can follow what their new hires are doing (and not doing). This makes it easy to identify the progress of the new hires onboarding.

Tip 14. Train you managers in onboarding.

Onboarding new hires is a skill that can be learned. HP has made it into a module in the leadership  training program.

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ROI of onboarding

Personio shared that they went through more than 8400 interviews to hire 200 people. A huge investment. Another number Personio shared was that in general 88% of employees feel that the onboarding process they go through is not good (data by Meta HR). Which leads to a high turnover of new hires.

Fortunately this number does not apply to Personio otherwise their return on investment would be really poor!

Tip 15. Use the OFTS framework.

Join Talent shared a framework to map the benefits of the investment in onboarding. There might be benefits on one or more levels. Here are the levels and an example of a benefit:

  • operational level – think less time for instructions by hiring manager or colleagues
  • financial level – less recruitment costs
  • technical level – less failure
  • strategical level – customer satisfaction

Tip 16. Gather data

Amazon made the case for gathering data at all levels continuously.

Tip 17. Learn from your data

At Amazon the data are analysed (by people and computers). This leads to learnings on all kinds of levels. A striking example is that Amazon monitors which new hire profile is the most successful. And  this information is used to improve the search profile for recruitment.

Tip 18. Go for what you know

Join Talent shared that it can be good to work with what you know instead of looking for benefits that are difficult to trace. Look for data proof points and work with that.

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Don't have enough? Here are the recordings of part 1 & part 2 

That’s it for now! Hope to see you at Onboard.Amsterdam in November 2020 or Onboard.London in 2021.

Yes! We Connect is the content partner of Onboard.London and Onboard Week 2020.

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