Social Media Onboarding: Let the Engagement Begin

Justin Hillier

It’s amazing how many people a new hire needs to meet when they first join a company. It takes a long time to build a personal connection with the new team and it's made even harder in the first week by all of the other meetings, training sessions and knowledge they must absorb. With the huge advantages that Social Media brings to the table, how or what could companies do to bridge some of the gaps or enhance their current onboarding process?

Before Day One

There is usually a window from acceptance date to start date, and this would be a great opportunity to start building these professional relationships and as much as possible personal relationships with the new colleagues – for example, on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.


What about having employees create a video introduction for their new colleague. It doesn't need to be long, but a nice "Hi, welcome to the team, look forward to working with you" would be a great touch and start establishing a bond before the new hire even walks in the door.

Even better: if you are using an internal social media tool for employee engagement -- like Yammer, Jive or Tribepad -- set them up and get things going from date of acceptance and let the engagement and communication begin.

Senior Management Introductions

Gaining senior management time to introduce new employees to the company may not be easy to arrange, but the value should never be underestimated Where it is not possible, I have seen emails or a quick five second "Hi, how are you"? welcome. Why not a quick video that could be a direct message or include information on the company history, the values of the firm, an overview of the strategy and fiscal goals, perhaps an overview of the finances by the CFO, and a greeting from some senior-level executive?

No matter what you do, it is always important identify for the new hire who are the people making all of the top level and final decisions in the business. If someone is not available for a face-to-face introduction, at least put a face to the name by getting them on film -- or even creating a podcast to at least make it a little more personal.

Working Space

Showing the new hire where they will be working before they start is always appreciated. What does the office look like on the inside, where will I be sitting and who will I be sitting next to? Is there a breakout room, cafe nearby or parking?

May seem like not much to some, but it can have a candidate excited like a kid in a candy shop if your work environment is stimulating. So why not show them. Pictures, video or a detailed blog would just add a little extra to a new employee’s engagement. If done well, they will not only tell their friends but show them -- you may eventually get a referral hire out of it as well.

Training and Learning

Systems, products, clients, customers, it goes on and on. Training for a new employee seems neverending. I would love to see a company setup webinars, video recordings, blog radio sessions to deliver onboarding training. The usual classroom style is not as effective as it once was. And the message is often lost once the staff leaves the room. For new hires, why not use the new more engaging tools that are available that can easily be accessed again when required.

Constant review is vital for training to be effective; trying to learn everything at once is not efficient. And imposing on your new colleague’s time over and over again becomes an annoyance.

Office Mates and Teams

Often and more likely than not, companies try to schedule multiple new hires in a particular week to maximize training with systems, introductions and resources. During this time, and from experience, the new starters in the same week build a special bond.

Usually each department of a business has weekly meetings to discuss various topics and upcoming requirements. Why not publish the agenda of the meeting via a blog (which can be internally viewed only) or via a quick snapshot video. This can come from a team member, manager or even the CEO and ask him/her to tell not only new starters about the latest company developments but the whole company. What a great way to get everyone involved!

There is always so much information absorb in that first week and month. Creating a private wiki or blog destination that can be accessed with the usual usernames and passwords means that mounds of paper are saved and that the content is readily available and easy to edit.

Welcome, Graduates

New college graduates may have a lengthy waiting period between acceptance and start date. They may receive an occasional email communication from the company, but these are not very impactful. With platforms like Ning, Jive and Tribepad, why not create an online community where relevant content can be pushed and closer communication and relationship building can be encouraged.

These are just a few ideas for using social media in the onboarding process. I would love to hear your thoughts on these points and any other ideas you have.