The importance of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace is growing rapidly. According to a PwC report, the next generation of the workforce is much more interested in working for companies that are aware of policies on diversity and inclusion. 86% of females and 74% of males say such policies are important in deciding whether to join an organization or not. This leads to plenty of organizations investing more and more in diversity and inclusion programs, with 76% now saying it is a priority.
Why inclusive onboarding is important
Creating an inclusive workplace has plenty of benefits - from higher job satisfaction and productivity, to improved creativity and innovation… But what does inclusion actually mean? According to Sarah Cordivano, who talked at the Onboarding conference Onboard.Amsterdam in 2019, inclusion is all about creating an environment of respect, connection and community. This is extremely important in onboarding - the main goal of looking at onboarding with an inclusive lens is to make new hires feel welcome and valued. This way, your new employees can contribute to the company more fully.
The prominence of inclusion in organizations was also reflected in my own experience at Appical. As a fairly new hire, who has worked at Appical for 2 months (and is still being onboarded), I can say with confidence that I felt included right from the first day. Having arrived at 9 am, I was immediately introduced to everyone at the office, and provided with a Welcome Tour by my onboarding buddy. One of the first things I noticed was the diversity of the team - being from Lithuania myself, I was happy to meet people from countries all over the world, such as Vietnam, Germany and Israel. The Appical team took the time and effort to ensure I felt included right from the start. Therefore, based on my own experience, here are 8 ways to provide your new hires with an inclusive onboarding:
1. Help new hires with their start in a new country and/or city
There are mountains of things to take care of when moving to a new country or city. Relocation can be overwhelming - therefore, provide your new hires with a booklet including all the information they may need: from how to obtain a work permit and find housing, to how to register at the municipality and where to find a new doctor. Another stressful element of moving is getting around the city - a guide to the city could save your new employees a lot of time and effort! In the guide, make sure to include the nearest grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, shopping centers, churches and schools (or kindergartens) for their children, as well as LGBTQIA+ community spaces. If you are using a digital platform for pre- and onboarding, this information should also be added there! Take a look at how Lightyear does it:
2. Keep your team in the know
When a new team member joins the company, it can be nerve-wracking for them to find their place within the workplace. Thus, prepare your team - even before the new employee joins, introduce them, their interests and hobbies to the team in order to make first conversations easier. Encourage your team members to reach out to the new employee and give a warm welcome! Moreover, tell the team what role the new employee will play within the company, as well as what their tasks and responsibilities will be. This way, your team members will know which projects to include the new hire in.
3. Introduce new employees to the work environment
On your new hire’s first day, provide them with a welcome tour of the office (if that’s applicable), so that they don’t get lost! Give the new employees a site map with information on the lunch and relaxation areas, the whereabouts of meeting rooms, wheelchair accessible entrances and where to find a first-aid kit. In addition, have an introduction round with everyone at the office in order for the new hire to feel welcome. Include them in all your activities - from lunch, to get-togethers, to work meetings - don’t let them feel like they’re on their own! Last but not least, give your new hires a welcome package with goodies and a handwritten welcome note from your team to make them feel like they are a valued member of the team.
Of course, introducing your new hires to the team and the office is a bit more difficult if you’re working remotely. But not impossible! Starting a new job online creates a lot more stress and uncertainty for new employees. So make sure they are fully informed on the software you’re using to communicate, and what your remote work process is before their first day. To give a physical touch to their remote onboarding, send your new employees a welcome package with goodies to their home, for them to still feel welcome at their new job!
4. Provide them with an onboarding buddy
Providing an onboarding buddy guarantees that your new hires have someone to talk to and feel included at all times. The buddy helps to set up the new hire for their new position, providing psychological safety and comfort.
The goals of the buddy:
- Increase role clarity
- Be a clear point of contact
- Include the new hire in company activities
- Help with the new hire’s induction into the company
- Help identify professional and personal goals
- Convey mission of the company
- Set up the new employee for success in an inclusive workplace!
Not convinced? Read our blog describing 6 reasons why your company should offer an onboarding buddy.
5. Explain the company culture
What is the environment like at your company? How do people communicate? For an easier induction into the company culture, make these clear even before your new hire starts working. Be transparent with your new employees: introduce them to the values of your company that guide your company’s actions. An easy way to do this would be onboarding your employees using a digital application. Appical pre-boarded me via their own platform, in which I was able to get to know the company culture and environment. The app also informed me what to wear on my first day, when to come in, and even provided me with a glossary of the terms and abbreviations I should know about, so that I didn’t feel left out.
6. Schedule coffee dates!
Ideally, the onboarding process should take around 3 months. That means there is plenty of time to get to know everyone! At Appical, we schedule what we call “coffee dates”, which are introduction 1-on-1 meetings to not only get to know the key people within the company, but also to find out what role the other person plays. However, work should not be the only thing to discuss - after all, you want to get to know your new colleague as a person! Ask them random questions to break the ice about their hobbies, food or entertainment (What’s your favorite thing to do around here on the weekends? What did you think you were going to be growing up?). Coffee dates help the new hires to make new friends, as well as to put the company’s structure into the big picture - which, in turn, makes the hire feel more confident in their future encounters.
Coffee dates is just one of the Appical tips for a successful onboarding journey. We have a whole checklist prepared for you - so you don’t miss any of your new employee’s milestones!
7. Include them in team projects
Of course, starting a new job for a new hire is scary, especially not knowing how to carry out the tasks they are asked to do. This is a great opportunity for inclusion! Invite the new hires to play even a small part in team projects, whereas they have to communicate with other team members in order to advance. From the very beginning, give fairly simple tasks to your new employees to make them feel encouraged, and create an environment where they can learn from their teammates!
Moreover, involve your new hires in recurring culture sessions and events. This way, the whole company can learn from this inclusive experience and reduce bias even further, as well as gain knowledge on what is important to their colleagues. In case you’re in need of inspiration, we at Appical dressed red for Dress Red Day! During virtual lunch, our colleague Victor raised awareness on heart diseases in women, whereas everyone in the company was welcome to join in educating themselves and bringing attention to this issue!
8. Listen and gather feedback
Last but not least, listen to your new employees. Regularly check in with them: do they feel welcome and included at the company? Is there anything they find unclear and need help with? Organize weekly or bi-weekly meetings to check in with your team members, and discuss any projects and problems they have at the moment. Make sure to create plenty of opportunities for feedback, and make it clear that feedback is being taken into account!
I hope these 8 tips to create an inclusive onboarding will come in handy. It is all about empathy and understanding - creating an onboarding program needs to be tailored to every new hire in order to make them feel included. Help your new employees flourish at your company by making them feel like they belong!
Learn how to personalize your onboarding
To learn more about personalizing your onboarding program and transferring your company culture to your new employees, sign up for the World’s leading Onboarding conference - Virtual Onboard Week.