How We Built an Engaging Onboarding Process (and How You Can Too)
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How We Built an Engaging Onboarding Process (and How You Can Too)

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When you land a promising new team member, you want to hold on to them. The best way to foster a connection and inspire loyalty? A thoughtful and comprehensive onboarding experience.

A study by BambooHR found that an effective onboarding process made employees 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their new job and company.

How do you create a solid foundation for your employees to learn and grow? At Eduflow, we have a few ideas. It starts before the employee’s first day and continues beyond their first month.

We’ve been honing our own interactive onboarding process. Follow along as we tell you how we engage new hires and foster happier team members.

One Week Before: Get Them Excited for the Employee Onboarding Process

We believe onboarding starts before your new team member even arrives at work on their first day. So, if a team member signs a contract with us early, we invite them to our onboarding course, so they can get a head start if they choose.

As opposed to purely administrative tasks like signing contracts, verifying employment history and registering for benefits, preboarding activities are tasks designed to get new employees enthusiastic about their upcoming start date. And it works. Aberdeen found that companies that engage in preboarding retain 81% of their new hires at the year mark.

You don’t want to monopolize your new hire’s unpaid time, but you do want to get them excited about joining the team while minimizing their chances of feeling overwhelmed on day one. Here are some activities we invite new team members to complete before their first day:

Upload a Welcome Video

We ask our new team members to create a short video with their name, location, work history and any special interests or hobbies they’d like to share. We chose video over a written survey because it gives the new team member a chance to showcase a bit of their personality. It helps to humanize them to their new co-workers and creates a jumping-off point for conversations once they start work.

Preview of our welcome video activity

Your employee isn’t just joining your company; they’re joining your team. Preboarding is the time to prove that by giving them a chance to “introduce” themselves to their new colleagues before they officially start working. We created a specific step in our onboarding flow where new team members can directly upload their video, which is then shared with the team.

Sign up for Important Accounts

We also immediately assign all new team members a company email, so we can invite them to Slack. We announce to the team that they have been hired, and when they join the Slack team, everyone says hello to them.

Signing up for major social and functional software accounts is a great preboarding task. It’s easy, it frees up valuable time on the first day, and it gives your new hire several different channels for interacting with their new teammates before they start work.

First Day: Introductions Are Crucial

Starting a new job is an overwhelming experience. We overcome this by allowing new team members to move through the onboarding course at their own pace.

The first day is when you set the tone for the employee’s working  relationships, and bad first impressions are very difficult to come back from. This is how we suggest boosting team member confidence:

Onboarding Buddy Introduction

An onboarding buddy is a co-worker who provides guidance and advice during those stressful first few weeks. Microsoft research found that new hires with onboarding buddies were 23% more likely to report overall onboarding satisfaction than those who didn’t have one.

Unlike a boss or a mentor, a buddy is a peer. A friend. They don’t participate in evaluations or assign work; instead, they help the team member integrate into office culture and provide a level of contextual and institutional knowledge beyond what team members can glean from official onboarding materials.

On the first day, they might eat lunch with the new team member or give them an office tour. In a remote office, like ours, they connect via chat periodically to answer questions and make sure the new team member is adjusting to company life.

Introductions – Virtual or In-person

Earlier, we mentioned that we have our new team members create a video about themselves that we share prior to their arrival. Once they’ve officially joined the team, we also introduce them to the existing team (via online bios and group video calls).

One of our newest hires, Marco, says, “Since I work remotely, it was very important to meet all the members of the team, so in the course, one step was to make a video call with everyone.”

Preview of our 'meet the team' activity

To foster these introductions, you can create team bios and put them directly in your course or create a step asking your new team member to set up a group call.

First Week: Teach the Process

If the first day is about making new team members feel welcome, the rest of the week should focus on helping them better know the company, its processes, and its tools. By the end of the week, our new employees have a working knowledge of our products and services and the everyday workflow and processes they need to participate in. Here are two ways we encourage that:

Background Reading and Getting to Know the Product

We provide important product knowledge by including a high-level overview of Eduflow and its predecessor Peergrade in our onboarding process. We ask new team members to read founder interviews as well as important articles about our business and watch videos about various use cases and applications of our tools. They can tick these tasks off as they go through the course and come back and revisit materials as needed.

New Eduflow team member Gorka says, “I had not used Eduflow before, and the onboarding course really helped speed up my knowledge on the tool.”

Our product introduction activity

During the first week, give your new team member time and direction to better understand your company’s products or services. No matter what their role is in the company, this knowledge will be invaluable to their future job performance.

Explain Weekly Processes like Standups

As part of our onboarding process, we include detailed instructions and examples of the processes that we expect team members to participate in.

Every company has its own organizational processes that make it run smoothly: weekly reports, daily standups, or regularly scheduled team meetings, for example. This is particularly true of remote companies where transparency and visibility are key to ensuring everyone is doing their job. This first week is the perfect time to train new team members on how to participate.

This is how we do daily standups

For example, we ask all team members to complete daily standups about what they’re working on each day via the Geekbot Slack app. Our onboarding course walks new team members through the reporting process with explanations and screenshots.

Second Week: Communicate Responsibilities

A lot of organizations end their official onboarding process after the first week, but we feel this is a mistake. Ending onboarding after the first week cuts off support for new team members right when they are most vulnerable. One study found that 16-17% of new hires churn in the first 90 days. Another study puts that number at a staggering 30%.

Extended onboarding is one of the most effective ways to make sure that your new team members are happily settled and confident in their new positions.

While the first week is all about introductions and getting settled, the second week of onboarding is when you start adding more responsibilities. Here are some ideas:

Establish Supervisor 1-on-1s

During onboarding, we set up meetings with new team members on a weekly basis, then transition to monthly meetings. At Eduflow, we encourage team members to set their own agenda for 1-on-1 meetings with the goal of radical candor.

Throughout the onboarding process, the new team member should be meeting regularly with their supervisor 1-on-1 to discuss onboarding materials, expectations and goals. These meetings have several purposes:

  1. Confirm that the employee’s expectations for their role are in sync with the company’s.
  2. Allow the manager to better understand the new employee and their management and support needs.
  3. Make the new hire feel connected and supported as they integrate into their role.

We do monthly 1-on-1's

As part of our onboarding course, we explain the purpose and rationale behind these meetings and instruct new team members on how best to prepare for a meeting with the boss.

In-Depth Product Exploration

We want to foster a culture where everyone is comfortable with and able to give feedback to the founders, the product team, the engineering team and everyone else.

To kick-start this, we have a few activities in our onboarding course that are a bit more hands-on. We ask new team members to go through a set of tasks using our product (sign up, set up a new course, build out some activities) and make a screen recording of themselves talking through the process. After they have made their screen recording, they are asked to write up some reflections on how to improve our product and make it more intuitive.

Our newest team member produced six great insights during this onboarding activity, and some of those were already implemented into the product during his first week at Eduflow!

First Month: Ongoing Engagement

Keep employees engaged throughout their first month to monitor how well they are integrating into the company and to address any problems or knowledge gaps before they metastasize.

Here are a couple of things we do to keep engaging with new team members throughout their first month on the job:

Schedule Co-worker 1-on-1s

Even though most of our team works remotely, it is important for us that everyone on the team knows everybody else. This increases the likelihood that they will help each other and collaborate on work-related tasks. So one of the most important parts of our onboarding course is requiring new team members to schedule 1-on-1 conversations with every other team member. As our team grows, this can be quite a lot of meetings!

These are usually spread over the first few weeks, so the new team member is not overwhelmed with too many meetings in their first week. This is a pivotal part of making sure we remain a unified team, no matter our size.

Ask for Feedback on the Onboarding Process

We ask for open-ended feedback as the last step in our onboarding course. Asking for feedback on the onboarding process reinforces how much we value our new team members’ opinions and experiences. We use that constructive criticism to calibrate the onboarding experience so that employees continue to find our onboarding process effective and engaging.

We always want to know how we can improve our process

Your onboarding process should constantly be evolving to meet the changing requirements of your company and the needs of new employees. Part of improving is asking and incorporating feedback from your newest team members. For this reason, we strongly feel that asking for feedback should be the last step in any onboarding course.

How Eduflow Enhances the Employee Onboarding Process

An Eduflow course encourages new team members to interactively engage with onboarding materials instead of simply reading a manual or ticking off a list of articles. They can consume information at a pace that feels right for them and revisit old steps and reference materials as needed.

This active learning style leads to greater knowledge retention and higher confidence. “I find that I learn the most when I get my hands dirty,” says Gorka, “and there were activities in the onboarding course that asked us to do so. I really felt I went from noob to capable user by following the step-by-step course.”

We’ve made our own exclusive in-house onboarding course available to Eduflow users for free. This is the actual course we use for our new hires. Walk through it to see how we onboard our fantastic new team members and to get some ideas for your own onboarding process.

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