8 MORE Onboarding Programs We Love

August 15, 2016

We've preached this point many times before: the content and quality of onboarding and orientation programs are strongly related to employee engagement. That's why well-planned, structured, and inspiring onboarding programs correlate with higher engagement. And that's 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? They can think outside the box. As a follow-up to our popular post, 8 Onboarding Programs We Love, here are 8 more creative onboarding ideas that companies are doing to welcome their new people:


This Boston-based software developer for risk management for the maritime industry, uses a program called "FastStart," an online tool that aligns work styles and priorities between new employees and managers. 

"The manager ranks the skills important and less important to the job, and the employee does the same," says Sarah Taffee, director of human resources and organization effectiveness at Veson Nautical. "The employee has the opportunity to compare their own answers with their manager's answers, and then the system guides them through how to have an open discussion about those things." 

The actual score doesn't matter, however. "Even if they answer differently about something, the score is only highlighted so that they can have an open discussion about it," Taffee says. "It's purely a way of getting up to speed quickly and building the relationship quickly.”


Official company policies, processes and paperwork — it’s what onboarding is made of. But what about communicating the unofficial stuff? The stuff that's good to know, but that it’s no-one's job to tell you. The stuff you'll probably find out during your first few months, but most likely by accident, because someone casually mentions something in passing and you say "Wait, what? Is that a thing?” 

That's when it hit Giles Turnbull at the UK's GDS: maybe it would be helpful to spell out this unofficial stuff up front, on day 1. Maybe we just need to say what’s ok. To be explicit about the things that those of us who have been here a few years take for granted. 

So Giles and his team wrote a list of things it's ok to do at GDS, and were generous enough to share this gem with the rest of the world on the Gov.uk Digital Service Blog. Want your own copy? Download it here!


Grovo is a fast-growing, enterprise learning and development platform. To preserve that “everyone knows each other” vibe the company enjoyed back when it was a smaller team, Grovo has new employees embark on an in-depth scavenger hunt. 

The activity encourages new hires to meet and talk to other people at the company to find out their interests, hobbies, nicknames and professional functions. Jeff Fernandez, CEO of Grovo says that "It’s helped preserve our company culture as we grow our numbers.”


“Previously, orientation was handled based on the resources we had in a given location," says Justin Mass, head of global talent development at Adobe. "It was fragmented and there was a huge quality conflict in the orientation experience.” 

One key feature of the new, virtual program? An exercise that involves asking new hires to choose a core value that resonates most for them and explain why in an online “chat pod.” Social media is "an effective way for sharing ideas and many people are accustomed to communicating in a text-based fashion," according to Mass. 

The exercise also enables the new hires to collaborate on ideas and begin forming connections to the core values and each other as a community, Mass adds.


This Seattle-based employee engagement software provider, has an extensive onboarding practice that celebrates the new employee every day during their first week. One activity tasks the new hire to purchase an object that they believe matches the company’s values. The new hires present what they've found to the whole company during the company’s biweekly staff meetings. 

Dustin Gransberry, senior manager, sales operations and enablement at TINYpulse, believes there are three benefits to the exercise. "You let the new hires get to know each other through teamwork, they are able to practice their public speaking and presentation skills, and you help them create physical anchors to learn the company values," he says.


UK Channel 4 wants to explain to new hires how the media property functions— not by using unwieldy charts or boring orientation materials, but by providing a total visual extravaganza with an infogrpahic. 

It’s smart design and smart internal communication: A piece of visual branding that, over time, will leave employees with a greater appreciation for how the company actually works in all its various departments.


Jobvite is an analytics-driven recruiting platform. They have a great - not to mention easy-to-replicate - practice for their new hires. 

First, new employees are surprised with a flurry of balloons tied to their desks (helps to draw attention!). They’re also encouraged to bring in treats for “rookie cookies,” an excuse for existing employees to drop by for a snack, introduce themselves, and chit chat.


Guelph General Hospital in Canada uses new hire onboarding/orientation as an opportunity for staff to understand the interconnectedness of their roles, and how teamwork helps them achieve their vision. Participants are paired up and asked to share their current understanding of what their role will be and to brainstorm about how their roles may be connected. 

It is not unusual for participants to come to orientation without an understanding of other roles/departments within the organization. After participants are given the time to share their respective roles with one another, they are given a challenge and asked to explore the question “What are the potential barriers to reaching our vision if we get too comfortable in our silos and fail to understand each others' roles?” 

Sure - this is easy when the relationship between the two roles is clear, such as between Intensive Care and Emergency Room nurses. However this exercise is more challenging when the need for inter-departmental understanding is not as obvious (think someone in Food Services and someone in a Sterile Processing Department.) 

The challenge to think broadly and systemically about their role almost always leads participants to find some common ground between their roles and how this impacts the overall care of our patients and the smooth functioning of the hospital. SCORE! 

Have a great onboarding or orientation approach?

Share it with us! We know there are a ton of other creative onboarding programs out there and we love hearing about them. Send us a tweet or shoot us a note!

Looking to jazz up your own onboarding program? We can help with that too. Drop us a line and let's get to work!

Jackie Berg

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