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6 tips on creating an award-winning induction & onboarding programme

Updated: Feb 26

A comic book-style illustration of a diverse team of new employees with the line ‘Unleash your new hires' inner superheroes’

Intro 👋

Good onboarding is crucial for a company’s growth, as 97% of companies believe, according to UserGuiding. An effective onboarding program is essential for any company looking to create loyal & productive employees. Onboarding can set the tone for the user's entire relationship with the company and the culture.

As of late, Thinkdom had one of their onboarding projects nominated at the prestigious Economic Times Human Capital Awards 2022, tackling the challenge of a new hire blended onboarding programme.

And the award received *insert drumroll*:

Throughout this project, the team understood the importance of helping clients onboard happy and productive employees, using user research, and instructional design best practices to create a tailored flow for a blended onboarding experience with relevant engagement activities.

In this blog, we will explore six tips for creating an award-winning onboarding flow.

Who is your audience? Get to know them 🫶

Empathizing and connecting with your new hires is essential to winning them over. User research, surveys, user interviews, and analytics are common ways to gather demographic and psychographic data. Thinkdom’s client, a large national bank, required an onboarding experience that worked in person and virtually for their new hires who were connecting from across the country.

To empathize and connect with your users, consider these common methods:

🤔 Surveys: Gather demographic or psychographic data to understand your users' background, preferences, and opinions.

🗣 User Interviews: Dig deeper than surface level to get meaningful, qualitative data. Assess body language and create a personal connection by asking "why?"

📊 Analytics: Tap into user habits, device usage, internet connectivity, other preferences, to gain insights.

❤️ Monitor feedback: Ask for audience feedback and monitor comments and engagements. Pop-ups or surveys with numerical ratings or text inputs are effective ways to measure engagement and opinions.

Start as soon as they’re in the door 🚪

New employee greeted by three colleagues, accompanied by Thinkdom's five tips for a warm onboarding welcome displayed next to it

The best onboarding process is a warm one.

Give a warm welcome to your new hires with a comprehensive onboarding process that lasts beyond just the first day. Onboarding includes orientation, job-specific training, introductions, culture acclimation, and follow-ups. It's a process that should begin as soon as the job offer is accepted, before a new hire’s first day and continue for months after.

Creating a successful onboarding program requires a tailored approach that goes beyond a one-time orientation event. But where do you start?

Making a checklist of what you can do to help employees become successful is a great first step. This can include:

🎁 Send a welcome email and welcome hamper 📧

🙋‍♀️ Assign buddies to guide new hires 👩‍🏫

💻 Provide access to training programs and resources 📚

📈Schedule regular check-ins and provide ongoing feedback 📆💬

💡Offer opportunities for growth and development 🌱

It can be overwhelming to handle everything in-house. That's why it's crucial to find the right partner who can provide the budget, time, and tools required to create a successful onboarding experience. Don't settle for a short-lived onboarding process that can overwhelm and burn out new employees. Connect with a trusted partner who can help you create a comprehensive program that benefits both your employees and your company.

Make it digestible 🍎

When it comes to face-to-face onboarding, it can be overwhelming for new hires to consume large chunks of information in a short period of time.

A common mistake that can be made is condensing all of the onboarding information into a few hours. If it is a simple onboarding process with only a few key points, then this is perfectly fine. When the orientation needs to have a lot more steps, things can get a little confusing for the new employees. It can be incredibly intimidating and overwhelming, overall resulting in a decrease in retention rates.

Too many user onboarding experiences force new employees into consuming large chunks of overwhelming information in a short period of time

📋 Break up your onboarding process into smaller sessions

🗺️ Provide a clear itinerary for the onboarding journey so new hires know what to expect

🏆 Emphasize stages and progression during the process with milestones or engagement activities

🎨 Express visually that the new employee is making progress towards an endpoint

⏳ Pace the onboarding experience to allow new hires time to take in, assess, and appreciate each stage

Provide opportunities to connect 🔗

Connecting with colleagues is an essential part of creating a positive onboarding experience for new hires. According to a study by Glassdoor, 60% of job seekers say that the level of communication and attention they receive during the hiring process influences their decision to accept a job offer. By providing opportunities for new hires to connect with their colleagues, such as through virtual coffee breaks or team-building activities, you can help them feel welcome and integrated into the company culture. This can lead to improved retention rates and a more engaged workforce in the long run.

🍴 Lunch or coffee breaks: Schedule a lunch or coffee break with the new hire and their team members. This is an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other in a more casual setting.

🎮 Virtual team-building activities: Plan virtual team-building activities, such as online games or trivia, to encourage team bonding and create a fun and inclusive atmosphere.

📢 Make Introductions: Use every opportunity to introduce new hires to the team and provide a platform for them to share their experiences and ideas. This helps to build camaraderie and increases collaboration within the team.

Gamify things 👾

According to a Gartner report, gamification is an ever-growing trend, with more than 70% of businesses belonging to the Global 2000 list of companies adopting it.

Thinkdom's exhilarating 3-stage gamification: QR code scan, engaging participation, and live leaderboard showcasing individual and group achievements

Gamification incorporates fun and engaging elements found in games and applies them to an experience, making it more immersive. Utilizing gamification in your onboarding flow can make the experience more engaging, with leaderboards and point systems. Thinkdom implemented this strategy to provide new employees with motivation in their onboarding programmes.

Gamification can make the onboarding process more engaging and create more conversions for your company. Games and rewards like points can all make the process more fun.

Maintain Momentum 🚄

As with any new program, there’s always room for improvement. According to Gallup, only 12 percent of employees strongly agree that their organizations do a great job onboarding new employees.

🙌 Periodically touching base with your new hires, asking about their experience, or even just remembering their name and saying hi when you pass in the hallway may help with retention and engagement, which is the whole point of creating a high-quality onboarding experience

📣When you receive feedback, act on it. When employees see that you apply their feedback, they will feel more confident in sharing constructive feedback that can improve your onboarding process.

By creating a formal onboarding program that does the heavy lifting, HR professionals can free up managers to focus on building rapport and integrating the new employee into the team.

Wrap Up ✨

Creating an award-winning onboarding program requires reducing clunkiness, listening to your new employees, and adopting best practices. By taking this approach, you can empower your users to realize the value of the product from the very first few minutes.

It's important to recognize that now is not the time to neglect onboarding, but rather to prioritize and invest in it. The initial impression that new hires have of your company can significantly impact their engagement, productivity, and overall success within the organization. According to a report by BCG (Boston Consulting Group), onboarding has a significant impact on employee retention and engagement, second only to effective recruiting.

Although virtual or onboarding in a blended learning format is relatively new for most companies, there are successful examples such as Dell and Marriott that have implemented virtual onboarding for years and have documented their processes for success.

Working with a creative and award-winning partner can help you to learn from the experiences and best practices of others, while also customizing your program to reflect your company's unique culture and values. Prioritizing and executing effective onboarding can lead to improved employee engagement, retention, and talent branding. Investing in onboarding not only helps new hires succeed but also contributes to creating a positive company culture and enthusiastic brand ambassadors.


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