Why Onboarding Experience Needs to Go Beyond Mere Processes - And How to Master it
The customer is always right is an axiom based on the principle of delivering the best experience to customers.
While this was the go-to motto of industries back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, times have changed.
Organizations are adopting agile team practices to improvise employee experience at their workplace. There has been a gradual shift from task-based onboarding to experience-driven onboarding processes.
Organizations would initially rely on HR teams to design onboarding processes. Slowly, but swiftly, they are now also involving employees in co-creating onboarding programs. So what led to this shift in mindset?
🛫 What defines onboarding? And why are traditional onboarding processes outdated?
An effective 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.
A traditional onboarding program focuses on simply giving out handbooks and organizing one-day orientations where they cover topics like:
- Company’s vision, mission, and ethos
- Skill development necessities like functional training tools
So, where do organizations go wrong here? First, traditional onboarding processes are solely designed from an organization’s standpoint. Second, it’s a top-down approach that essentially focuses on legal information, documents, and insurmountable paperwork. Here, employee experience and expectations are barely given any priority.
Several challenges were born out of traditional onboarding programs that can be summed up into few statistics:
Our experts have handpicked onboarding statistics in our article: 65 onboarding statistics for HR managers to help you gain further insights into onboarding processes.
🚀 What is experience-based onboarding and how does it look?
Experience-based onboarding is an approach to introducing new employees to a company that focuses on providing a comprehensive, engaging, and personalized experience.
Unlike traditional onboarding, which often centers on administrative tasks and one-way information delivery, experience-based onboarding emphasizes the new hire's overall experience, integrating them into the company culture, and fostering connections with their colleagues.
Organizations need to stop thinking in silos to deliver an enhanced employee experience.
An experience-based onboarding program entails:
- Creating a welcoming experience
- Automating the busywork
- Creating networking opportunities
- Check-ins, scheduling 1:1s
- Learning from employee feedback, and more
This is only an overview. Let’s get detailed into each phase of an experience-driven onboarding process - from pre-boarding to easing the transition process of an employee into their new role.
⚒️ How to build an experience-based onboarding process?
Phase 0: Preboarding
The first stage of your process, here every step should be centred around making an employee feel comfortable, and preparing them for the first day.
½ weeks before
5 days prior - 1 day prior
- Information on uniform and office rules
- Onboarding survey
- First day schedule
Phase 1: Onboarding week 1
Your employee’s motivation is running high, and so is their nervousness. Introduce them to your team members and familiarize them with your organization’s structure.
- Sending reminders
- Sharing organization’s values, cultures, team members
- Setting expectations, KPIs
- Assigning a buddy
- Quizzes to explain the ‘language of your company’
- Having 1:1s
- Arranging meetups, coffee dates
- Reflect on their first week accomplishments
Phase 2: Onboarding first month
This is when your new hire is slowly easing into your organization’s ecosystem. In this stage, you need to introduce tasks that offer more autonomy, and involve them in everyday tasks.
- Explain feedback structure, channels, reminders
- Schedule team outings
- Assign small tasks
- Recognize small accomplishments
- Join interdepartmental meetings
- Discover new sources, follow-up on tasks
- Set goals
Phase 3: Beyond onboarding
Here, your primary focus is now on employee development, scheduling regular 1:1s, and discovering your recruit’s future plans.
- Encourage goal oriented thinking
- Skill discovery
- Actively participate in meetings
- Monthly check-ins
- Take project responsibilities
- Ask for feedback
- Create a development plan
- Request for onboarding feedback
To deliver an end-to-end onboarding experience, you need a centralized platform that automates recurring processes, offers engaging content, and fully integrates new hires into your organization. Get our complete PDF checklist for creating unique new hire experiences:
How to customize onboarding experiences for different departments?
A unified onboarding program is the crux of your employee experience. And to make it a lasting one, you need to customize your onboarding process depending on the needs of your people.
Here are some things you can do differently for department specific onboarding:
- Share interest-specific surveys during pre-boarding
- Explanation of role-based tasks
- Skill assessments, setting job-specific goals
- Skill discovery courses, trainings
- Sessions with colleagues on how to find task related support
- Take initiatives in diagnosing task-specific issues, offering solutions
- 1:1 with team manager
Our article How to onboard developers and engineers is a comprehensive guide that offers steps, tips, and best practices on onboarding department-specific employees.
🆚 Experience vs task-based onboarding
The difference between the two isn’t primarily in terms of its purpose, or content delivered. What differentiates an experience onboarding from a task based is the way it’s delivered, what it focuses on, and most importantly, how engaging it is.
💡 Onboarding experience tips
#1 Employee is the king
Instead of asking ‘How do I share all the paperwork at one-go?’, shift your thought process to ‘How do I differently share all the information so that the employee is able to retain it?’. A simple change in your approach can define how experience-driven is your onboarding process.
#2 Experience is everything
Powerpoint presentations aren’t just outdated, but they’re one of the least effective ways to deliver information. Using our onboarding templates enable you to deliver content in unconventional ways like quizzes, app integration like Loom, Slack, and training programs.
#3 Let the feedback roll in
Companies usually go wrong when they assume what their employees will benefit from. What you think is the right way to onboard employees, might not be the best. At the end of the first week or first month, always ask for feedback from your new hires. You can send surveys, slack forms, and even have a 1:1.
This will help you gain indispensable insights into your employees’ expectations and what they truly want to achieve out of your onboarding program.
#4 Personalize the experience
The requirements of a software engineer might vary from a social media manager. This includes different training programs, tech stack, access to accounts, softwares and tools required. While the goal is to have an overarching process, there is an opportunity for you to customize certain steps to match the needs of your new recruit.
#5 Initiate connection programs
Connection programs are at the forefront of strengthening your employee relationships.
Their purpose isn’t just to introduce your team members with one another. They also dig beyond surface level conversations, bring your people closer, and create opportunities for them to proactively work on projects. Introducing programs like ‘walk and talk’, or ‘meet up rituals’, are great ways of creating spaces for your employees to talk and resolve any conflicts at work.
We all are aware by now that an effective onboarding process doesn’t end on the first day. They span from 1 week - 6 months, and during this time, it’s so important to communicate with your new talents to keep them engaged. This will make them feel welcomed, less vulnerable, and encouraged to ask questions.
➡️ Take your onboarding experiences to the next level with Zavvy
The first step isn’t to deliver an experience-driven onboarding program. You need to see the gaps in your existing onboarding process, and see where you can replace redundant processes with automation, and create room for meaningful experiences.
If you don’t have an onboarding program yet, start with responding to your existing employees’ problems – how you can enhance their experience at work. Because, a smooth onboarding process only supports your work culture at a greater level.
Co-creating your onboarding process with employees will make them feel supercharged, valued, and give them the autonomy to design a program that serves their needs. There’s no second doubting that an experience-based onboarding journey is the present, and the future of building a connected workforce.
Integrating our onboarding tools enable you to go beyond task-based processes that only deflate the excitement of new hires. Speak to our experts for a speedy demo or book a free consultation!