Employee Experience: The 4 Key Components of an Onboarding Strategy

Anyone who has ever held a job has had an “employee experience.”  But what is employee experience?  Its definition is really in the eye of the beholder as each employee experiences events differently.  Thinking about it in another way, it’s a series of experiences that happen during the employee life cycle.  

So, how do HR professionals ensure an employee is getting an excellent employee experience?

Start with onboarding.  It’s one of the first experiences an employee has within a company and it’s the only real opportunity a company has to make a great first impression.  Understand, a company never gets a second chance.  The key to addressing the challenge is making sure new hires feel welcomed, valued, and prepared to take on the onboarding process.

To do this, adjust the onboarding experience to focus on familiarity, simplicity, and culture, while making it personal for each new hire.

1.  Familiarity

We’ve all been new to something in our lives.  Examples include joining a new team in your favorite sport, going to a new school, or marriage.  Think about how one feels in that situation.  Feelings of disconnection, self-doubt, and nervousness are good examples.

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The first order of business for a new hire must be creating an environment of familiarity.

Do this by having new hires greeted by the person(s) the individual interviewed with during the candidate phase.  Consider creating a ‘who’s who’ area on your company intranet.  Include photos, names, and titles.  A similar offline approach is functional as well.  Some like a simple bulletin board with staff pictures, names, and positions.

These all sound rather elementary, but it could help avert an embarrassing situation such as a new hire asking a stranger to help with an employer-issued mobile device, only to learn later that person was the CEO.

Cinemark, uses employees to keep each other engaged and to positively impact the employee experience.  

“Every time somebody has a question, they are in an awkward situation to ask people around them, so how do you ease life for these new employees?”

Supriya Bahri, the VP Global Head of Total Rewards and HRIS for Cinemark, says it’s a concept we’ve heard before:  the buddy system.

“When you assign somebody as a buddy, they develop a relationship so that when the new employee has a question they have someone to ask,” Bahri said.  “It’s really important to get your employees comfortable.”

The reality is these strategies help new hires feel a familial connection to their new company right out of the gate.

2. Simplicity

Onboarding can be an uncertain time for a new hire.  Add to that the complexity of the process and a new employee can be overwhelmed on their first day.

The process should be fun, interesting, painless, and simple.

One way to do this would be to post schedules, materials, benefit forms, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the company on the company intranet.  Provide new hires with a direct link to these items.

By providing these to the new hire before the individual’s first day, you eliminate a portion of their “new job jitters” and prepare the employee to start employment in a strong way.

3.  Culture

When starting a new job with a different employer, the culture learning curve is huge.  Not knowing the rules, benefits, nuances, and traditions can leave a new hire feeling out of place.  Don’t make that person learn these important items the hard way.

For instance, if your company observes a ‘Casual Friday’ rule, let the new hire know before they show up to work dressed in a suit.

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Make sure the new employee knows what benefits and perks the company offers.  Again, provide links to these documents via email and post them in visible locations.  Verbal mentions are a good thing, but remember, it can easily be forgotten as the new employee will be experiencing information overload during the onboarding process.  Likewise, physical copies of this information are helpful, but it can be lost in the shuffle documents a new hire procures during the first week.

It’s important to make sure the new hire feels prepared and included as a member of the company culture.

4.  Personal

It’s easy to make the first day all about paperwork.  In fact, it’s normal to do so.  Don’t be normal.

The filling out of some paperwork is necessary on the first day but consider having the new hire fill it out before arriving for Day 1.  If you have to fill out paperwork on Day 1, keep it to a minimum, and allow the person to fill out the remaining documents online after they’ve settled into their new job.

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Make Day 1 about building relationships and making that personal connection with co-workers and the company.  As stated earlier, first impressions will have an enormous impact on the employee’s experience.

Lean on the Internet

Onboarding can easily be one of the best experiences or worst experiences of your new employee’s life cycle with the company.  When reviewing the strategy, a company uses when onboarding it should be noted, as evidenced previously, the internet can be the most powerful tool an HR professional can use.  A web-based strategy allows professionals to coordinate and monitor every step of the process while addressing the challenge of making new hires feel welcome, valued, and prepared.