Different companies have different approaches to employee onboarding, depending on their line of work, their core values, and the culture they want to foster in their employees.
That being said, there are a couple of great practices that some of the most famous companies follow to onboard their new hires quickly and efficiently.
These “onboarding elites” regularly introduce vast numbers of employees into their workforce, and their methods are perfected to bring positive results.
We’ve taken a look at how the big leagues handle their onboarding process and want to share what we’ve found with you.
So read on to find out more about how top companies pre-board employees, foster company culture, share knowledge, and encourage independent learning during their onboarding processes.
Twitter: Pre-boarding Gives Employees a Head Start
Supplementing your onboarding process with a series of well-thought-out pre-boarding activities is becoming an integral part of welcoming employees into their new companies.
And it’s really no wonder. A good pre-boarding program can help your employees walk into the office on their first day feeling ready to tackle their first assignments.
In addition, pre-boarding is your chance to get a lot of the bureaucratic and procedural details out of the way.
That way, the employee has a much better chance of having a highly engaging start to their new job, having filled out all the forms and signed all the necessary documents beforehand.
Pre-boarding is a great way to give your new employees a head start, and no one does pre-boarding better than Twitter, where new hires are engaged in an intensive program called From-Yes-to-Desk.
When a candidate accepts a job offer from Twitter, their excitement is at its peak.
Rather than allowing for that excitement to flatline, the team at Twitter has devised as many as 75 touchpoints, to be reached before the new employee sets foot in the office on their first day!
The pre-boarding policy is a joint effort of the recruiting, HR, IT, and other teams who get in touch with the employee and make sure every bit of the necessary documentation is filled out and signed.
The employee is also asked to provide some basic information through an onboarding survey and provided with the equipment they will need to do their work.
This way, the new hire is carried through the waiting period feeling highly engaged and excited to start working.
The Yes-to-Desk period culminates on the first day at work when the new employee is led to their workstation where an awesome welcome kit, containing a T-shirt and bottle of wine, among other things, is already waiting for them.
Twitter is a great example of how an excellent pre-boarding program can keep the excitement level high ahead of the new employee’s first day at work.
Zappos: Culture Is Key
Company culture and workplace relationships have long been recognized as crucial ingredients for a happy and productive work environment.
In fact, a large majority of entrepreneurs and job seekers alike agree that culture is the key to success.
The online shoe and clothing retailer, Zappos, is a great example of a company that really understands the importance of company culture and how it can impact employees’ happiness and productivity levels.
So much so that they make integrating new employees into company culture a priority from day one.
This insistence on positive culture starts with the hiring process.
At Zappos, recruiters are looking for candidates that are a perfect cultural fit for the company, so the personality of the candidate is just as important as their qualifications.
During their first four weeks, new hires are exposed to the highest value held by the company–excellent customer service. This is done by having the employee train with the Customer Loyalty Team (CLT) and handle customer inquiries.
Every new employee goes through this part of training, from accountants to developers.
The idea is that by learning the customer’s habits, wants, and needs, each member of staff can contribute to making the customer experience even better.
In addition, new hires are onboarded through games, activities, and group projects that are designed to bring coworkers closer together.
They also learn independently about the company’s history and 10 core values.
Oh, and by the way, if the new employee discovers that they feel like a misfit at the company during the onboarding process, they are offered $4,000 to quit.
That way, Zappos ensures that the people who stay with the company are motivated by more than financial gain.
Insisting on culture and integrating new hires into the company by encouraging employee bonding and relationship building is what has enabled Zappos to enjoy high retention rates and top performance levels from the start.
They’re a living example of how crucial culture often is to large companies.
Pinterest: Building a Tight-Knit Community
An important lesson to learn from Zappos’s great onboarding process is that collaboration is the key to success.
Another famous company that puts a heavy emphasis on collaboration is the social network Pinterest.
At Pinterest, new hires are onboarded at the company headquarters in San Francisco, regardless of where in the world they will be working after induction.
On their first day, new hires are invited to breakfast with their new colleagues, where they engage in icebreaker activities and begin integrating themselves into the diverse network of the company’s employees.
During the onboarding process, employees participate in the company’s core value through a practice called “knitting”.
The term simply means collaborating with as many people at the company as possible and appropriating their unique perspectives and views of the world.
Knitting occurs through a variety of activities, such as talks with the heads of different departments and participation in the company’s Slack channels.
It culminates in the yearly computer-free, meeting-free event Knit Con.
Knit Con is a totally unique corporate event where employees have the opportunity to share what they’re passionate about and teach their colleagues, subordinates as well as superiors, a thing or two.
At the event, you can see a c-suite executive teaching survival skills, or an associate demonstrating the traditional Tahitian hula dance.
At one conference, there was even a dog-grooming class and petting session led by a Pinterest employee who’s passionate about corgis.
As you may already suspect, knitting is about much more than having fun and picking up new hobbies.
It’s a way for Pinterest to celebrate the diversity of their team and encourage coworkers from different walks of life to collaborate closely.
And additionally, to come up with innovative solutions that continue to make Pinterest the social network of choice for creatives around the world.
Vodafone: Optimizing the Onboarding Process With Technology
It’s clear that employee onboarding is at its most effective when it’s done in person. Then, it works as an immersive experience that integrates new hires into the team as seamlessly as possible.
That being said, there’s a lot to gain when a comprehensive onboarding process is supported by technology. This is especially true in the age of COVID-19, when a big part, if not the entire process, is handled remotely.
Leveraging technology in the onboarding process has many benefits, the most important of which is the potential to automate and streamline the process.
In fact, many HR professionals say that a lack of technology is to blame for the chaotic and disorganized state of onboarding at many companies around the world.
The British telecommunication giant Vodafone rose up to the challenge of remote onboarding and actually managed to improve its process and make it more efficient than ever by implementing cutting-edge technology.
For example, they developed an internal app that helps new employees progress through the onboarding process.
When new hires start working at the company, they’re given the login information to access the app, where important documents, company information, and their first tasks await.
This allows Vodafone employees to get onboarded at their own pace, and they can turn to the app whenever they feel unsure of their next steps.
The Vodafone Digital Onboarding Platform also connects new employees to a support team that can answer any question and provides useful content to facilitate knowledge sharing.
Not only that, but the app also collects usage data meaning the onboarding process can continually be improved to become more and more efficient in guiding employees through the onboarding steps.
Building an entire app dedicated to new employees and their induction into the company is an excellent example of how technology can be leveraged to optimize onboarding and make it more efficient, even when employees are onboarded remotely.
Buffer: An Onboarding Process Perfectly Adapted for Remote Teams
The social media toolkit provider, Buffer, has always been a thought leader when it comes to employee management.
They enabled remote work before it was cool, and they were also one of the first companies to introduce a bootcamp approach to employee onboarding, which is still very much en vogue today.
Have a look at the short clip below in which Buffer’s founders talk about the bootcamp if you want to know more about the practice.
But, being ever lean in their approach to company development, they abandoned the practice because they discovered that employees were feeling isolated and detached from their colleagues during the onboarding process.
Buffer’s present onboarding process manages to onboard new team members remotely while keeping interactions and collaboration levels high. All thanks to efficient knowledge-sharing systems.
Buffer has always faced a challenge in sharing knowledge. When your team works remotely, they can’t exactly turn to their colleagues for every small issue and inquiry they have.
To combat this issue, the management at Buffer devised an intricate knowledge system and network of documents so that employees in general, and new hires, in particular, can continually learn, collaborate, and follow procedures.
Their knowledge base is supported by a variety of tools and software products, such as checklists, Trello, and Google Sheets.
If you’re operating a remote team as well, this is a great practice to follow.
However, instead of spreading your knowledge over multiple tools, which might send your new employees on a wild goose chase when looking for the right piece of information, we suggest using a central knowledge base software, like Archbee.
Modern documentation software offers solutions for all of your collaboration and documentation needs in one place.
That way, new hires know exactly where to turn when they’re looking for information or when they need to get in touch with their colleagues to ask questions and report on their progress, as the best documentation software also has collaboration features.
As you can see above, in Archbee, you can chat directly on documents and even add labels so that every team member is clear on their tasks.
Let’s face it: the pandemic has changed how teams work together, maybe forever.
Rather than seeing remote work as a disadvantage, many companies around the world are leveraging their knowledge systems to make onboarding more efficient than ever.
Amazon: Self-Driven Onboarding
We’ve talked a lot about collaboration and community building in this article, and for good reason.
These are definitely the cornerstones of effective employee onboarding, but there’s also a lot to be said about independent learning and self-driven onboarding.
For one, self-driven learning is a great way to save time and resources.
If your employees have the tools and materials to cover a larger part of onboarding themselves, you don’t need to have a big support team on hand, and your team managers can spend more time on tasks unrelated to onboarding.
In addition, self-driven onboarding allows employees to personalize the learning process.
With this approach, employees are free to learn at their own pace, skip the lessons they have mastered in the past, and give more attention to details they find more difficult to grasp.
It’s no wonder that employees prefer this type of learning.
A company that has taken these lessons to heart is Amazon.
Team managers at Amazon use templates for each new employee. The template is filled out with the new hire’s information, important guidelines, and the tasks that they need to complete during their onboarding period.
From there, the employee is responsible for handling those tasks, and their success depends on their skills and resourcefulness.
The guidelines include access to Amazon’s learning portal, which is filled with helpful content, talks, step-by-step instructions, and so on.
That way, employees can start achieving goals as they are developing new skills and mastering the specifics of working at Amazon through independent, structured learning.
If this approach sounds appealing to you, but you don’t have the resources to build your own learning platform, have no fear.
Excellent documentation software can help here as well.
Tools like Archbee can enable you to build vast libraries of knowledge your employees can use for independent learning whenever, and wherever, it suits them.
Alongside plain text documents, Archbee can support learning with embedded videos, images, maps, API endpoints, diagrams, multi-language code, and much more.
Remember, excellent employee onboarding has many faces.
Sometimes, it requires your whole team to come together and welcome a new member, and other times it consists of a wealth of materials that enable new hires to learn and grow on their own.
Great Examples of Employee Onboarding Are All Around Us
As a CEO or team leader, you almost certainly pay close attention to the way things are done at other companies in your industry.
You may even consider some of them to be role models or thought leaders when it comes to employee management.
At Archbee, we consider knowledge sharing to be the most important value at any company.
That’s why we want to encourage you to seek out more excellent employee examples and exchange good practices with other team leaders in your circle to keep learning and improving your own employee onboarding process.
Onboarding is an employee-centric process so definitely take time to talk to your employees and exchange valuable feedback that will help each new iteration of your onboarding be the best one yet.