How Google Onboards New Hires (And How You Can Easily Replicate It)
- A breakdown of Google's onboarding process.
- Why Google's onboarding process is simple yet highly effective.
- The role of company culture when onboarding.
- A step-by-step guide so you can also onboard the Google way.
After facing a series of rejections for ten years, Advin Roy Netto, a UX designer, finally landed his dream job at Google in 2022.
Joining Google was his dream.
Like Advin, Google is a dream company for many. And Google ensures they onboard these candidates positively when they finally make it.
77% of new hires at Google report a positive onboarding experience, which is much higher than industry standards.
This onboarding case study will discuss the onboarding process at Google and how you can replicate it.
Let's put the Nooggler caps on and learn from one of the most influential companies in the world.
🤖 How does Google run their Onboarding Process?
Remember Advin, that needed ten years to land his dream job at Google? There are thousands of Advins worldwide.
This means that all the hours Google spent short-listing profiles, interviewing, and generating offers may go to waste if their new hires are unsuccessful.
Onboarding is one of the best ways to ensure that.
Google's onboarding strategy is simple yet extensive. There are nine core elements to Goggle's new hire experience.
Google takes its preboarding step seriously to avoid bad new hire experiences.
Sundas Khalid, Principal Analytics Lead at Google, says: "As soon as I accepted my offer, I started receiving emails from the Google onboarding team, interviewers, managers, and teammates. That just made me feel so welcome and even more excited to start with Google."
Some of the tech setups are also done in the preboarding phase itself, as new hires choose a username and laptop before joining.
Lastly, managers of new hires get a just-in-time onboarding checklist with five action items.
- Have a role and responsibilities discussion.
- Match the new hire with a peer buddy.
- Help the new hire build a social network.
- Set up onboarding check-ins once a month for the new hire's first six months.
- Encourage open dialogue.
🚨 This checklist is sent one day before the joining for immediate attention.
Google also has a cool name for its new hires, Noogler.
As per the just-in-time checklist, the managers at Google pairs new hires(aka Nooglers) with onboarding or a peer buddy.
👯🏾 So, Nooglers have a friend even before they join the company.
The Buddy meets the Noogler on Day one, shows them around, and helps them slowly get comfortable in the new place/culture.
A Noogler orientation lasts up to one or two weeks where new hires:
- Complete the tech setup.
- Attend sessions on company culture, organization structure, policies, etc.
- Get the famous Noogler cap and Noogler kit.
👲 Also, a cherry on the top is a hat ceremony at the end, where Nooglers wear their caps and get ready for a photoshoot.
4. Office tour
How many companies think of giving an office tour?
It's a special touch included in Google's onboarding, where Nooglers are given a tour of the office by one of the existing Google employees.
This tour is often gamified using a theme like a treasure hunt.
And the best part?
Apart from lifts and stairs, there are slides in most of the Google offices for going from one floor to another. Sliding brings back those happy childhood memories, and it is a reminder for Nooglers that this is not just another office. It's Google.
5. Job-level training
Nooglers have access to both in-person and self-paced courses related to their role.
For instance, Cherie Lim, Communications Associate at Google, completed a 5-hour coding-related training session in the first week of orientation.
6. One-on-one meetings
Google ensures new hires have a clear understanding of their job and expectations.
The manager checks in with Nooglers within the first week to explain their roles and responsibilities.
Nooglers also get to know about:
- Objectives and Key Results(OKRs) expected in the first quarter. The objective is the goal to be accomplished, and key results are the measurable outcomes.
For instance, the goal for a newly joined software engineer could be to become fully productive in 3 months. For this goal, a measurable key result can be that they complete at least one project independently.
- Business goals and their role in it.
- Team goals.
- When will the first performance management conversation be?
And it doesn't end with one meeting. From there on, there will be monthly check-ins till each Noogler gets up to speed.
7. Starter project
Nooglers get a simple starter project first to begin with, which is usually around two weeks long. A starter project is a low-risk project without any business impact.
The starter project is their chance to implement all they learned in orientation and further job-level training. So, it's an excellent start to getting into the groove.
8. Building connections
Open communication is a significant part of Google's culture.
Omid Scheybani, a former Google employee, says everyone is just one coffee away at Google.
Managers and buddies help in ice-breaking.
Further, employees are also encouraged to show each other their house in the first video calls.
Seeing someone's house tells a lot about them: hobbies, surroundings, interests, and more. This way, people can understand their team members better.
"Only three weeks in, I have already bonded with team members over Dragon Ball Z references, a passion for great deals, an adoration of Baby Yoda, a love of winning, an interest in Etsy, a desire to see more diversity in tech (and specifically, on my new team), a love of food, and so many other things. These are my people." Laura Chevalier, Developer Advocate at Google.
9. Meaningful nudges
To keep the communication and feedback rolling in, Noogler gets a nudge after two weeks to:
- Ask questions, lots of questions.
- Schedule regular 1:1s with your manager.
- Get to know your team.
- Actively solicit feedback - don't wait for it.
- Accept the challenge (i.e., take risks and don't be afraid to fail. Other Googlers will support you).
That completes all the nine core elements.
It is clear that Google does not take any shortcuts in onboarding new hires. Instead, there is a continuous learning, feedback, and communication cycle to help a Noogler.
There is no fixed window for a Noogler to graduate. But it usually takes at least 6+ months.
👀 3 Reasons behind Google's current Onboarding Strategy
1. The experiment with nudges
Laszlo Bock, Former SVP of People Operations at Google, speaks in his book, Work Rules, about Google coming up with the just-in-time onboarding checklist.
They initially did a pilot test by sending managers of Nooglers a checklist a night before the joining.
The results were astonishing: Nooglers whose managers took action on the checklist became fully effective 25% faster than their peers.
Now, this process is a permanent part of Google onboarding.
2. Focus on casual and creative energy
Google is not a conventional company, and it never tried to be.
Below are a few impactful lines from Google's philosophy:
"Our founders built Google around the idea that work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun.
Our atmosphere may be casual, but as new ideas emerge in a café line, at a team meeting, or at the gym, they are traded, tested, and put into practice with dizzying speed – and they may be the launch pad for a new project destined for worldwide use."
Google keeps the workplace casual and even onboarding fun to create an atmosphere of creativity and challenge.
3. Open doors and family-like team
Larry Page, Google's Co-founder, says: "It's important that the company be a family, that people feel that they're part of the company and that the company is like a family to them. When you treat people that way, you get better productivity."
Google has an almost flat organizational structure. So it's easy to approach seniors. And the management sees the company as a family. So small steps are taken from the onboarding stage to achieve this atmosphere.
Nooglers are encouraged to build connections and have frequent one-on-ones. And there are fun activities throughout the orientation for team bonding.
➡️ Want to learn more from Google's unique people strategy and best practices? Check out our deep dive into how Google runs performance reviews.
🗝️ Why Google's onboarding is a hit: 5 Vital elements
There are many benefits to proper onboarding.
Here are the top five reasons Google's onboarding process works so well.
1. Simplified and timely nudges
Nudges, when executed with care, are highly effective.
Two things that Google does right with nudges are:
- They keep it simple and easy to act upon.
- They send it just in time for immediate attention.
The short time frame between a nudge and a new hire's starting date keeps the tasks fresh in the manager's mind.
Google onboarding is not all work and no fun.
Games spice up orientation week.
Don't forget a fun hat ceremony with great photo sessions to add to the fun.
All of these add up to an engaging employee experience.
💡 Employee onboarding gamification increases new hire engagement and reduces time to productivity.
3. Prioritized relationships
Google sees its employees as a family, and their onboarding reflects it. There are many activities for teams to catch up and talk casually. Also, one-on-ones are a fixed process to initiate conversations.
So, how does it all benefit?
JobSage surveyed the impact of having friends at work:
- 92% said having friends at work impacts their willingness to stay at the company.
- 74% reported being more productive when they have a friend.
Having friends at work helps new hires (and the company).
4. Encouraging feedback
Managers set clear expectations with Nooglers at the beginning itself by setting OKRs. Apart from that, frequent check-ins and getting feedback at the right time ensure that Nooglers are walking on the right path.
And we don't need to go far to prove it.
Google did an internal study that shows that Nooglers who asked for feedback were more productive than Nooglers who didn't.
5. Well-structured process
The onboarding process of Google may look all fun and games.
But in the end, there is a core structure that ties everything together and ensures employees get all the input they need.
🚀 How can you run a well-structured (and fun) onboarding like Google?
Google's onboarding is a wholesome experience, similar to our philosophy on onboarding.
At Zavvy, we also believe an onboarding experience should be a mix of culture, learning, fun, and connections rather than a dry process.
So here comes the good news: You can create Google-style onboarding using Zavvy.
Using Zavvy's preboarding software, you can create tasks for tech and HR teams to keep the communication going with the candidate.
You can also create a checklist for managers or send nudges.
After preboarding concludes, our onboarding software helps to plan the entire onboarding journey by:
- ⚙️ Importing your new hire data from your existing HRMS systems and automatically assigning the onboarding journey to them.
- 📅 Automatically scheduling orientation sessions.
- 👭 Assigning an onboarding buddy.
- 💪 Designing training content.
- 👥 Scheduling one-on-one meetings.
- 💬 Sending nudges via Slack, Email, or Teams.
- ⏰ Keeping your critical stakeholders updated about when and where they have to contribute to a new hire's onboarding.
Google focuses strongly on team building and initiating conversations. But you can also do it (that too automatically).
Zavvy's connection programs automatically match up employees for coffee conversations or walks and talks. It's a great way to break the ice and make some friends.
Last but not least is Google's emphasis on feedback.
Feedback plays a crucial role in new hire productivity. A new hire can get well-rounded input from peers, the onboarding buddy, and the manager using our 360 feedback software.
Wait, it doesn't end there.
Once onboarding concludes, new hires don't just log off from the platform forever.
Instead, a new experience is waiting for them.
- 🔄 With our feedback automations, you can set them up for regular feedback and performance review cycles using Zavvy.
- 🌱 Use our employee development software and growth plans to take training for their career growth further.
- 👥 Continue to build connections using our connections programs.
Create a meaningful and wholesome onboarding experience for your new hires.