10 Examples of Outstanding Employee Onboarding Experiences

Zuletzt aktualisiert:
9.11.2021
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12 minutes
Last updated:
November 9, 2021
Time to read:
12 minutes
10 examples from employee onboarding experiences at companies like Google and Zapier. Read this article to get inspiration and improve.

We hear it all the time: to win in a marketplace, you need to first win at your workplace. And the right way to go about this is creating valuable job offers, planning for career succession, and providing essential materials to new hires. But there’s something that commands a greater importance. One that will decide the career path of an employee in your organisation — and that is employee onboarding.

To give you an in-depth understanding, we’ll take you through case studies of companies with great onboarding processes. Followed by ideas on how you can improvise your onboarding experience.

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What is employee onboarding?

An effective employee onboarding is the first impression a new employee will have of your organisation. And to make it a lasting one, it’s important to give them all the necessary tools and information that will deeply involve them in their new role, and your company. Help them familiarise with topics like your company’s vision, policies, and skill development necessities like functional training tools.

Different stages of employee onboarding: From preboarding ofer to company onboarding, functional onboarding, and continuous development. The onboarding examples cover different of these phases.

Examples of great employee onboarding experiences

We’ve searched high and low to bring you some of the very best examples of employee onboarding out there. Here are our top picks along with the reasons why we included them in this list.

Zapier

Famous for its incredible product, and remote work environment, this SaaS company is a champion of automated workflows. At the time of writing, Zapier’s headcount is 350+ employees across 23 countries. With a remote operation this big, their onboarding is a crucial process to ensure a high engagement from their employees.

To help ease the new job anxiety, Zapier employees spend their first week getting familiar with the company, and their team. This includes learning tools and systems needed to succeed in their role, and expectations set by the company for the coming years.

Employee Onboarding example from zapier: It includes functional onboarding which is focused on how things are done in terms of code base, best practices, and more.

Once week 2 begins, they’re ready to get their hands dirty by working on small tasks. And, by week 3, they start collaborating with other teams on cross-functional projects.

Zapier’s onboarding is a success because new hires get the freedom and time to settle into the company, and their role. All this, without being overwhelmed with 

abundant information and redundant processes. 

Buffer

This social media tool has become one of the leading companies in its niche. Renowned across the world for its offering, the company believes in 100% transparency. They publish all their numbers annually — including profits, costs, and salaries of all employees — a magnet for new talent. Not to mention, the company has been operating remotely since its foundation, making it a desirable employer.

Their initial employee onboarding process involved a 45-day bootcamp. Instead of being accepted into the team immediately, new hires were onboarded as contractors for 45 days. They abandoned this practice for one reason - their new hires felt a lack of involvement in their team.

Following this, they improvised their onboarding process where new hires receive 5 introductory emails. Here, they can find all the necessary information about the company, their team, and their role. This is how it goes:

Nowadays, they have a structured onboarding process that is a bit too complex to describe in a few paragraphs. One thing that stands out is that before a new hire joins them, they get five emails to share all the necessary information and collect their information too. This is how it goes:

  • Welcome email
  • Collecting basic information
  • Introducing them to managers and peers
  • Presenting tools that new hires will use
  • Setting expectations for day one

Highlight: System of 3 onboarding buddies

One thing that's particularly outstanding at Buffer is their system of 3 onboarding buddies. This means that 3 particular people are involved in every onboarding:

  • The hiring manager
  • A culture buddy
  • A role buddy

But mentoring someone is now something you can just start doing. It involves work, empathy, and regular check-ins.

Hence, all 3 stakeholders get detailed information how to guide and talk to their new colleagues.

Hiring Manager

Onboarding guide for new hiring managers

Role Buddy

Employee onboarding example: Buddy guide from the social media company Buffer.

Culture Buddy

Onboarding guide for culture buddies at Buffer

All new hires are given access to one central onboarding document where they can find answers to the most commonly asked questions.

This onboarding works because new hires get information in parts, rather than being bogged down by all the material at once. They receive just the right amount of questions to keep them engaged and excited about their new role. 

Miro

We bet you’ve heard of Miro—a whiteboard software that’s used by thousands of people and businesses around the world. Besides its successful product, they have a growing team of people with over 1,000 employees. Contrary to its tool to help remote workers, the company itself is not remote. They have several offices across Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America.

Their onboarding process spans over 90 days where employees need to be proactive and work independently on most of the tasks. The managers are only there to guide them, and to set expectations.

Within the first 90 days, employees are expected to read all the designated materials, create their own profiles, and sign up for products/services. When they create their internal company profile, it is documented for everyone to read. This is not only a way of introducing new hires to the team, but it also helps create job clarity. 

A critical part of Miro’s onboarding process is creating awareness about the size and complexity of the company to its employees. With more than 1,000 employees scattered across different time zones, one of the crucial tasks for a new hire is setting their own hours in Slack, or in other applications. This helps every employee know when to contact one another. 

Zappos

Whether you live in the USA or not, you’ve probably heard of Zappos. Renowned for selling superior quality shoes, the brand offers an equally good onboarding experience to its employees.

Zappos' onboarding video for new joiners is a great example for a good introduction for new hires.
Source

Every new hire is welcomed with an onboarding video that outlines their role, and the experience of working at Zappos. It also highlights the work culture, and the role of every employee at Zappos.

At under 6 minutes in length, this makes a great example of time well spent on video content. At the same time, it’s publicly available for job applicants to get a feel of Zappo’s workplace and its culture. This is like killing two birds with one stone — the video helps elevate the candidate experience, while attracting new talents to apply.


At under 6 minutes in length, this one video is a great example of time well spent on video content. At the same time, it’s publicly available and anyone else who is not an employee can also view it to get a sense of the workplace and their culture. It’s two for one - it works both for the candidate experience and for attracting new talent to apply.

What does the onboarding experience at Apple look like?

Apple

There’s a reason why a large swath of graduates, and professionals aim to work at this tech giant. Revered for its products, new hires at Apple are welcomed with an equally efficient onboarding process.

To connect new employees with people who deeply understand the Apple culture, they introduced the iBuddy system. Here, new hires are paired with an existing employee outside of their primary team where they can ask questions about their role, the company and its culture, or the workplace habits. 

The concept of ibuddy works because it helps the newcomer get through this awkward period at ease. A system that was initiated 30 years ago, is still relevant today, and adapted by several other companies like Microsoft.

Hubspot

A company always on the brink of new technology, Hubspot followed the footsteps of Apple, and created its own branded onboarding platform: Foundations. It includes everything that a new hire needs to learn about the company. 

While they do have plenty of offices around the world, the entire company switched to remote work from March 2020 because of the pandemic. To develop their remote system, they recorded new materials for both - employees and managers to settle into their redefined workplace. While their products are excellent, they can be complex to understand. To make it easier, they recorded new videos/tutorials on how to use them effectively. This is useful especially for new hires that didn’t have hands-on experience of working with Hubspot’s software.

Grubhub

Grubhub is a food delivery app where customers can order food from their favorite restaurants. The Grubhub drivers then pick up the order from the restaurant, and deliver it straight to their door. 

Their onboarding process involves an introductory video for new hires, and potential applicants. It’s short, informative, and offers all the information new hires need to turn their job into a rewarding experience. Chances are, they provide information via different platforms. But a video format is surely a successful tool to make content memorable. Clocking under two minutes and proven to be beneficial, we’re sure this video will remain a constant in their onboarding process for years to come.

Vodafone

A telecom giant that employs people all around the world, surely understands the importance of a great onboarding experience. While other companies have complex frameworks and documentation, Vodafone created its own employee onboarding application.

When a new hire joins the company, they get access to Vodafone’s app which guides them through their onboarding process. The app is designed to facilitate the onboarding process where new hires can fill in their requirements. Its role is twofold - for the employee to learn crucial information about the company, and for Vodafone to further improve their onboarding process.

Google

Google is one of the best-known companies in the world, and one of the most desirable employers. Well-known for their fun activities in the office, as well as a great benefits package, their onboarding is an inspiration to many employers.

Source

Their onboarding is focused on the opposite spectrum of the hiring process - the managers. Before every new hire joins the company, their managers are responsible for sending a welcome email within 24 hours. This is followed by giving five tasks:

  • Assigning them a peer or buddy
  • Discuss their role and responsibilities
  • Help meet their coworkers
  • Set up employee check-ins for the first six months
  • Encourage them to speak openly about potential issues

The goal here is to have a short time frame between the email and the starting date of the new hire so the tasks stay fresh in their minds. Since the weight of the onboarding is on the manager, the new hire spends more time learning about their role and responsibilities.

Verisys

A leading provider of healthcare data, Verisys is one of the many companies that switched to remote work in March 2020. And this came with its own set of challenges.

First being, newly remote employees weren’t aware of how to set up their computers at home. So they prioritized creating videos on how employees can set up their home office. Each new and existing employee is put through this education.

For all new hires, new equipment is delivered safely straight to their homes, along with a swag package, and some decorations. On joining Slack, new hires are warmly greeted in their respective team channels.

Examples of bad employee onboarding experiences

There are plenty of ways you can go wrong with your onboarding process. One of the leading reasons is when you fail to understand your employees’ needs to fulfil your organisational goals. When you create an onboarding program with tools that are irrelevant to your employees’ roles, they will find it difficult to manage their workflow, and eventually quit. Here are some more practices that could lead to a bitter work experience at your company. 

examples for bad employee onboarding experiences

Assigning work to new hires from Day 1

We couldn’t emphasise more on this problem. Delegating work related responsibilities to new hires on their first day, or even the first week is never a good start. It’s imperative to give them enough time to learn about their team members, their role, and your company’s work culture. Ignoring this will only exacerbate their first day anxiety and pressure of performing well. 

When they’re through the first week, only then you should assign them tasks. Perhaps, start with giving them small jobs, and with time, you can build confidence in them to take over big projects.

Relying on content instead of people

It’s no secret that an efficient onboarding program takes time for both - managers, and new hires. To make it easier, you may resort to handbooks, videos, or webinars for introducing new hires to the company. While there's nothing wrong with it, your employees will be confused about how to communicate within your organization.

For example: How do they report on their activities and what information should be included? Who should they report to on important developments? The best way you can help them is by setting up a video call or arranging a meeting in person. 

Not caring about the first impression

A new role is like a first date. While you hire an employee for their skills, they will judge your company based on your onboarding process. If you fail to meet their expectations, they’re quite likely to quit within the first few months. It always helps to understand and appreciate the value they bring to your company. Otherwise, they will take the next offer they get.

When a new hire joins, greet them by their name, secure a designated space for them in your office, equip them with the right hardware and software to get their job done, and introduce them to the rest of the team. Even if you’re working remotely, a lot of these things should be on your checklist nonetheless.

Rushing through it

Companies like Toptal have an onboarding process that lasts for six months. For each major milestone achieved during this period, new hires are expected to learn something new. This can be anything - from mastering any new skill to becoming more efficient in a specific area of work. The reason for a long onboarding period is that new hires can take several months to become fully productive in their role.

When you rush through this onboarding process, your employees won’t have enough time to prepare. They will eventually underperform, remain demotivated and disconnected with their role.

Not having a plan

“I’ll just wing it” is one of the least effective strategies to rely on. The average onboarding process has at least 54 small activities that new hires (and you) should do. Assuming that you’ll manage it as you go is not only irresponsible, but also the fastest way to lose a top class employee.

In order to make the most out of your onboarding process, make sure that it is well documented. You need to determine how long the process takes, what it entails, and what you should do to deliver a smooth experience.

Not checking in

An employee left alone could mean two things: either you’re really satisfied with their performance, or you’ve completely forgotten about them since they joined. In the first case, if you are indeed happy with their performance - acknowledge it. In the second scenario, your employee might feel isolated in your company, and eventually quit.

So, despite having a busy schedule, make it a habit to keep a tab on the progress of your new hires. They may not want to ask a question because they’re afraid or too shy. It always helps to make them feel comfortable and heard through consistent follow-ups.

How to deliver a fantastic employee onboarding experience yourself

Any company, including yours, can deliver an effective onboarding experience by making some changes to your existing one.

We’ve come to a conclusion - companies that provide excellent onboarding share some common roots:

  • They individualise the approach for each employee
  • They allow room for the employee to ask questions
  • They provide the new hire with information on the company culture
  • They communicate regularly and insist on checkups

You can do many of these things on your own without scaling your cost - like sending an email, or messaging on Slack.

But, what really matters is that you streamline the process and make it easier for everyone involved. This is where our employee onboarding tools come into play - they’re designed to give your company a framework for providing an excellent onboarding experience. You can be rest assured that with us, you will be able to deliver a pleasant onboarding experience to your new hires, your managers, and everyone involved in the hiring process. Get in touch with us to get started!

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