From the expert: how to support the different roles in employee onboarding

Do you know who is responsible for your new employees’ onboarding journey? In many organizations, the responsibility lies with several staff members across multiple departments.

How do you ensure that everyone who has a role in the onboarding process is involved, works together and knows what is expected of their role? Stacey, Onboarding Leader at a Global IT company, shares her experiences and advice with us. And shows why sharing responsibilities pays off.

A consistent onboarding experience across the world

Born from the vision of ‘delivering amazing people first experiences enriched by technology’, the onboarding program at Stacey’s workplace, centers around the new employee. Their onboarding experience for new hires consists of an employee website, manager and buddy websites, global orientation events and the Appical app. “We want to make sure new hires have all the tools and resources they are going to need, without overwhelming them.”

“From a global perspective, we have to provide a consistent experience across the world. And we want to make sure every onboardee has the same experience. But because we’re a global team, we don’t have all the insights of every office; neither do we know all the ins and outs of everybody’s job.”

“We only have 3 people on the onboarding team - a team dedicated to onboarding new hires -  and we onboard about 10.000 new employees a year. We have to rely on functions throughout the company.”

What are the different roles in the onboarding program?

So, who are the onboarding collaborators in this global company’s onboarding journey? Let’s take a look at the roles of the manager, the buddy, the onboarding team, and other partners.

1. The manager as the catalyst

Managers play a key role in the employee onboarding process. Most of the time, they have better knowledge of the tasks of the new onboardee and their direct colleagues, and they're likely to spend more time with new hires. They can enrich the onboarding experience by making it more personal.

To accomplish this, Stacey and her team set up a hiring managers’ website to give them the tools they need. “We want to make sure that managers are doing things at the right time.”

“Our managers have a roadmap as well. Their journey starts upon accepting the offer, because onboarding really begins the minute that the new employee signs their offer. And it ends after the first 90 days. The manager can customize the experience for the new employee.”

Tip: Check out our onboarding checklist for managers to get an idea of what your onboarding program should include!

2. The onboarding buddy as the local guide

The welcoming committee has to stretch beyond managers, especially now that a lot of companies are adopting hybrid work. That’s where the onboarding buddy comes in. This is an employee that functions as a new hire’s support system throughout their onboarding experience.

“Onboarding buddies are mostly people that are located in the same office. To help assist buddies in their role and provide them with the tools and resources they need. We use an onboarding buddy website. On this website, we show a video of our global head of talent acquisition and global head of employee experience in which they say: ‘hey this is an important role’. Because it is.”

“Furthermore, they can find their buddy responsibilities, a checklist, activities for the preboarding and the first 90 days and tips on how to be a great buddy. They also receive advice on what they don’t have to do (called buddy boundaries). Onboarding buddies don’t have to be the new hires’ new best friend; their role is to ensure that the new hires can get to the tools they need and just help along the way.”

To learn more about the importance of onboarding buddies, check out our blog!

3. The onboarding team as the glue

There are a lot of other employees that are involved in the onboarding process. It is important to ensure they are all connected and working together. In Stacey’s company, the stakeholders include: the IT team, corporate real estate team (to provide employees with a desk), the benefits team, and the payroll team.

“One of the good things about our onboarding experience is that my onboarding team is amazing. We have a process mailbox that we manage together. If there’s a buddy or manager that missed something, the employee can e-mail us. There is always somebody they can contact.”

Working together pays off

Making onboarding a shared responsibility, seems to pay off for Stacey’s company. “We conduct different surveys for our new employees and the managers, and pull our metrics every month. The result we are most proud of is the answer of new hires after their 90-day program on the question ‘I made the right decision to join the company’. We score 4.8 on a 5-point scale!

“We’re very proud of the top metrics, but what we’re really looking for is where we can improve. This shows us where employees are having a hard time and we find out if there are any issues. In our survey, we have a section where new hires can give us comments and we give all the feedback to the right department. In this way, we’ve been able to improve our processes. The feedback benefits all employees.”

Biggest lessons learned about onboarding

“The biggest lesson we learned for onboarding is: if you get it right, you’ve created an ambassador for the company. A new hire’s onboarding experience sets them up for their career journey with the company. And that means that if and when the new employee moves on to another role or company, they still remember how they were treated on day one.”

“Don’t just throw an onboarding experience together. A true onboarding experience takes time. When we launched our onboarding program, we were in good shape: we had our tools ready to go. But you can launch an onboarding experience and still be building it as you go. To go out, you don’t need to be perfect, but you need to be prepared.”

> Discover more best practices in our customer stories

Provide new employees with a memorable onboarding experience

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