Eight onboarding programs we love
This post was updated November 2020.
It’s not surprising that the content and quality of onboarding and orientation programs are strongly related to employee engagement, or that engagement levels begin to drop off steadily after the first day of work and throughout the first three months on the job.
What is rather surprising is that well-planned, structured, and inspiring onboarding programs correlate with higher engagement, not only during onboarding, but years down the road.
So, what can companies do to improve their onboarding processes, and in turn, boost engagement and avoid losses? Here are some creative onboarding ideas that other companies are doing to welcome their new people:
1. BAZAARVOICE: NEW HIRE SCAVENGER HUNT
Bazaarvoice sends new employees on a weeklong scavenger hunt that includes a series of tasks and questions to expose them to all areas of the company, including structure, history, events, departments, and culture. (Source: TalentLyft)
2. BONOBOS: TWO TRUTHS & A LIE
At Bonobos, the hiring manager sends out an email to the whole company introducing the new employee, with a brief biography, photograph, and trivia game called “Two Truths and a Lie.”
These are fun facts about the new employee, but only two of the three are true. To figure out the lie, employees are encouraged to get to know the new employee. The first person to identify the lie correctly gets a $25 store credit. (Source: Deloitte)
3. BOX: CHOOSE YOUR BEST FIT
Box flipped the traditional hiring process by hiring new people for their potential, rather than a position. New hires are given three months to explore the different departments and learn about products and services. Then they can choose what department they feel is the best fit for them. (Source: Inc)
4. ETSY: ROTATIONAL “BOOT CAMP”
Etsy has a “boot camp” that rotates new employees through every team in the organization. They spend a week with the team that hired them, and then four to six weeks out on rotation with other teams to get cross-trained in the organization and develop personal ties. (Source: Inc)
"You come in, spend a week with the team who hired you and then spend the next four to six weeks out on rotation with other teams," explains Etsy CTO Kellan Elliott-McCrea. "That has obvious benefits in that you get cross-trained on the organization and you learn what we're doing, but it also has some non-obvious benefits, including the development of some strong personal ties. People you boot camp with end up being part of your support network at Etsy."
5. RACKSPACE: “ROOKIE O” ORIENTATION PROGRAM
Rackspace provides a five-day orientation called the “Rookie O,” or Rookie Orientation, program with icebreakers, trivia games, races, skits, costumes, thumping music, a limbo bar, and more. Don’t miss the full story on this one from Bloomberg!
6. TASTEFULLY SIMPLE: BUDDY TO THE RESCUE
At Tastefully Simple, an assigned buddy helps new hires learn the ropes, invites them for lunch and breaks, and provides a practical tour of the office. (Source: Inc)
"That's an awkward day, that first day, for a lot of people," says Edgar Timberlake, Vice President of Team Relations. "Once the person gets here, we have a buddy that's assigned to them. That buddy's responsible for forming a relationship and offering assistance along the way. We assign someone who would have similar kinds of duties, and that person would know the ropes and be able to answer questions."
7. THRILLIST: AN OPEN ENVIRONMENT
At Thrillist, new employees join the team in a completely open environment with no offices and with the desks clustered together. They sit out in the open with their team members. This is called the “foxhole approach” – you figure it out with the team around you.
8. VALVE: THE SURVIVAL GUIDE
On the first day, Valve employees are given a 56-page whimsical employee handbook (or “survival guide”) with funny illustrations and a desk with wheels. Then they’re told to find a project to tackle.
Appropriately, the handbook preface reads, “This handbook is about…how not to freak out now that you’re here.” The book helped shorten the time for new hires to assimilate to company culture. Check out the full Valve Employee Handbook here.
Does your company have a one-of-a-kind onboarding program? We’d love to hear about it! Or if you’d like help designing a program, let us know!