January 05, 2017 / By Zip Schedules / In Zip Schedules / Comments

5 Companies With A Unique Onboarding Process and What Makes Them Successful

An employee onboarding process is essential for the success of your company. Research shows 69% of employees will be more likely to remain with your company if your onboarding program is a winner.

Companies recognize the importance of an an onboarding process as it impacts employee retention and the bottom line. Sure, recruitment is important but that’s just one aspect. Once you’ve hired you need to go above and beyond to make them feel welcome. You need to get them acclimatized to your company culture and equip them with the knowledge and skills to become effective team members.

This process will differ between companies in terms of length and structure. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. You need to assess what will work for your company.

But, there are companies that are excelling more than others with their onboarding processes. Here are 5 companies that are taking a unique approach to onboarding. While their programs are different, there are certain common themes that make them successful. Whether you already have an onboarding program or want to see what it takes to create one, these companies can help.

1. Zappos: The Importance of Company Culture

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The Zappos onboarding process lasts four weeks. The process places a strong emphasis on creating bonds and communicating the company culture. All hires will experience the same program, regardless of their job title, with the aim to grow company culture, build a strong team, and create strong internal bonds.

All employees receive training on the best practices for customer service as this is an important part of Zappos’ cultural identity. During the first two weeks, employees learn about how to deliver exceptional customer service. Because Zappos believes culture is so important all new hires are presented with 10 core values and the history thereof. This ensures a shared value system. After one month employees graduate but new arrivals also have an option:

They can quit and the company will give them $2000.

Yes, you heard right, Zappos will give new hires 2000 dollars to leave! The reason for this is that they believe in the company culture and so they want to protect it. They want the right employees working for them from the start.

Twitter: “Yes to Desk”

Twitter have an onboarding process from “Yes-to-Desk” . This is the time from when the new employee says yes to an offer until (s)he sits on the desk. During the process, there are a series of steps and handoffs between HR, IT, and Facilities. More than 75 steps to be exact! Twitter provides new hires with an e-mail address, a t-shirt, a bottle of wine, and a desk placed according to who you’ll work with.

They will also receive a PDF in their inbox, explaining what to expect on the first day. They spend breakfast with the CEO Dick Costolo, followed by a tour of the offices and lunch with the entire team. Seating is pre-arranged so there’s no anxiety about where to sit.

They spend the afternoon acclimatizing to the company. The company then updates hires on current projects, teaches them about tools and systems, and the company history. The odd inside joke is also thrown around. Because there’s a lot to do, hires hit the road running and start working almost immediately following the day’s activities.

The onboarding process continues for the next month. Hires enjoy happy hour with the senior team combined with an alternating 5-week program of 30 min presentations every Friday.

Buffer: Commitment to Remote Working

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Because of the prevalence of remote working today, it seems only right to include a company that consists of a remote workforce. Buffer has committed to a remote workforce with 79 employees . So if you’re a company with a distributed team, there’s much you can learn from Buffer’s onboarding process.

The onboarding program starts once an employee says yes to an offer (as with Twitter). New employees immediately receive a Kindle Paperwhite and Jawbone UP. The Buffer process involves a six-week boot camp
where recruits are assigned three buddies
a Leader, Role, and Cultural Buddy. The six-week boot camp is to ensure a fit and the three buddies are the main points of contact throughout.

The Leader buddy is an experienced employee who guides new hires and teaches them about the values. These are buddies who have in the past told an employee it’s not a fit and has let them go. The Role Buddy is there to teach the candidates about their role entails. The Culture Buddy teaches new hires about the culture assesses whether there’s a culture fit.

There are one-on-one chats every two weeks with team leader and/or the CEO, Joel Gascoigne to assess progress.

Netflix: Insights from Netflix Engineer

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The Netflix onboarding program was revealed on Quora . Engineer Poorna Udupi shares the process.

Recruits desks and laptops are setup before the arrive. They’re also involved in large projects from the start, which makes them feel like they’re contributing from the get-go. How’s that for feeling valued? In Poorna’s case, he started working on Netflix for Apple TV. And, within four months he saw customers using work. Other details of the onboarding program include:

An orientation program to explain Netflix technology. Orientation with the executive management in the first quarter to give employees an idea of the company culture and their thinking moving forward. A dedicated mentor to provide help and guidance. CEO Reed Hastings meets with new arrivals in a casual group meeting.

5. Pinterest: Seeing the World Through Knitting

Pinterest has 500+ employees , with their HQ located in San Francisco. This is where orientation happens.

Before arrival, the company sends hires an introductory email, together with their schedule and its uring this time they’re given the opportunity to introduce themselves to the company.

On day one new arrivals meet for breakfast and there are some compulsory ice-breakers to make them feel comfortable. Product Manager, Steve Walling mentions that there are several offices, so make sure you get the address right!

After breakfast newbies start acquainting themselves with “knitting”. Knitting involves collaboration with the goal of seeing the world from a different perspective. Pinterest values diversity as they believe diversity contributes toward new ideas and innovation.Thereafter company leaders – including the founder – give several talks. You’re encouraged to come prepared, to learn, and to ask questions. In the first two days, they learn about company goals and strategy.

On the second day, hires learn more about the Pinterest brand and how Pinterest gather feedback from pinners. Work starts at the end of the second day and spend the rest of the week setting up with IT and acquainting themselves within internal collaboration e.g. Slack. The week ends by volunteering with KnitSF , followed by a new hire happy hour at MarsBar.

Each of these companies has onboarding processes that work. Yet, each is different and tailored according to the company. But, there are common threads that make them successful, common threads to consider when you set up your own onboarding program.

The Common Threads

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So what are the common threads?

  1. They Invest In The Recruits and the Onboarding Process

    These companies have invested time and money in their programs. They understand the company’s success depends on it because an investment in onboarding is an investment in their employees; the lifeblood of their companies.

  2. They Have Structured Programs

    Each orientation program is well structured. They are comprehensive and provide direction to new hires from the beginning, which means they can hit the road running. The companies guide hires throughout; they aren’t left to fend for themselves.

  3. The Companies Communicate Their Culture

    There’s a strong emphasis on company culture and fit, where companies communicate the culture from the start.

  4. The Companies Strive to Build Internal Bonds

    The companies understand the importance of integrating new hires with the rest of the organization. It’s teamwork and collaboration that will drive innovation and company profits.

  5. The Companies Promote Accessibility

    The companies give new employees the tools and resources to succeed and provide access to their top level executives. The fact that CEO’s are spending time with new hires shows the company cares.

Final Thoughts

These companies know what it takes to create an effective onboarding program. Yes, these programs differ but there are common threads that make them successful. Consider these when setting up your own orientation program.

When you design your onboarding process, remember the following:

Design it with employees in mind. Make them feel valued. Provide them with the tools, knowledge, and skills to succeed. If you do that, you’re well on your way to creating a competent workforce; one that’s happy, will add real value, and in the end, will contribute to the success of your company.



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