Let’s pretend for a moment that the perfect employee exists and that you hired them — who doesn’t like a good hypothetical? You want that ideal person around for the long run. The first step to retaining your talent begins with onboarding.
At Wisetail, we believe in the importance of employee onboarding, however costly it may be. Because when you do it right, you don’t have to spend the money as often, and not spending money is a great way to save money.
As we’ve evolved and refined our employee onboarding process, George Bradt’s “Three A’s” have served as a sort of guiding light. For the uninitiated, George is an onboarding expert who founded PrimeGenesis, an executive onboarding group that’s worked with Merrill Lynch, Dropbox, MTV, and Miller Brewing, to name a few.
His Three A’s — Accommodate, Assimilate, Accelerate — ensure nothing and no one slips through the cracks. We’ll take you through each piece, how you can apply them to your LMS, and explore ways to more strategically incorporate all the A’s into your own onboarding process.
New Wisetail employees Kati, Bjorn, Ryan, Kevin, and Meghan stand in front of the Wisetail marquee.
Let’s start with accommodating your new employee. This is where you roll out the welcome mat and ensure they’re comfortable with the new surroundings. First impressions are important, and you have an opportunity to get creative in the details and make a positive, lasting impression.
There’s a big yellow marquee outside our office in Bozeman. Whenever a new round of hires starts, we put their names on it and take a group photo to commemorate the beginning of a long relationship and share in our LMS. The old yellow sign is our way of welcoming and directing new hires from the moment they arrive at our office. As silly as it may seem, it’s become a tradition and a cultural staple for us.
You want to make sure communication is clear before a new hire arrives — between you and them, and especially within your existing team. And, of course, you want to make sure everything’s ready for the new hire on Day One. Computer, email, phone line, desk, etc., all ready for someone to step in and get going.
We use the social features in our LMS to let the team know a couple weeks in advance of any new hires coming aboard. The notifications often include a quick bio of each hire, a photo, which team they’re joining, their exact start date, and any other relevant info.
Our onboarding is almost entirely online, no paper-based training or manuals. New employees are enrolled in our LMS their first day and directed to our onboarding course. The course houses all the content — policies, forms, all the standard first-few-days items — organized in an engaging and accessible way so as not to overwhelm anyone on their first day.
We use our LMS to help organize onboarding information for new hires.
At this point in the hypothetical, your platonic ideal of an employee is in the building and is working through your employee onboarding course.
The next piece of the onboarding puzzle is introducing this new employee to the company and the company to the employee. Each organization has its own unique culture and way to make this introduction.
One way you can use your LMS to let the new employee show a little bit of their personality is with a few light-hearted questions on the welcome page. Pick questions that resonate with your company culture and aren’t too probing. Things like What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? or If you could have one world-renowned skill, what would you choose?
Schedule some meetings between the new hire and individual team members. One on one introductory meetings are less intimidating than meeting an entire team all at once. It lets the new hire get a sense of how each person works and how their own talents fit within the team dynamic. We like to accomplish this through peer training and schedule the training through our LMS so the new hire gets used to referencing the system as a go-to for all work-related information.
Maybe the most important part of assimilating a new hire to your organization is introducing them to the company vision, mission, and values. Make sure they understand the “why” behind your company’s existence and the values the company embodies. If you do it effectively, that new person becomes an ambassador for your organization and showcases those values to everyone they interact with.
The way we like to handle that introduction is a welcome course. Our course is filled with content that covers the company mission, vision, values, culture, and a history of Wisetail. We’ve seen plenty of clients get great learner buy-in with a “How to Use the LMS” course that walks the person through a few basics, such as uploading a profile photo.
A welcome announcement in our LMS for our new hires.
Acceleration is all about reducing this hypothetical new hire’s time to productivity.
One of the most important ways to do this is to set clear expectations. Your LMS’s onboarding course should be segmented by what you expect them to accomplish each day, with a little prep work for the next day so the new hire knows both what to expect and how to meet those expectations.
It’s important to ensure there aren’t any roadblocks to impede their progress either. For instance, if there are videos, be sure to either provide headphones (in case they don’t bring their own) or put captions in the video.
Be sure to recognize success throughout the employee onboarding process. Maybe it’s a catered lunch to celebrate the end of the first week or a shout-out on the LMS home page. Reinforce the concept of success and let the new hires know you pay attention and appreciate their efforts.
Wisetail employees Pierce, Bjorn, and Jill participate in events alongside our company manifesto.
Soliciting feedback is an essential part of the onboarding process, too. Don’t wait until the very end to ask about what they think could be improved. Give the new hires the opportunity to speak up and ask questions throughout the entire process. And, when you incorporate any suggested changes, cite them as the source who pointed it out. That type of recognition creates a positive environment where people feel empowered and engaged in their education and onboarding experience.
Successful employee onboarding practices are different for each organization. The process has to square with your culture and resonate with your employees. But these three broad categories — Accommodate, Assimilate, Accelerate — can help you get creative with your approach to onboarding. Take a little time to try out different methods for each category. See what works and stay on the lookout for how you can improve with each round of hires — the best approach is a dynamic one.