Onboarding is sacred. At least, that’s what I’ve learnt over my years running a small business like Charlie.
But what exactly makes the best employee onboarding experience for your new hires?
To find out, I asked some of my peers to join the discussion and give you some tips on how to build the best possible experience for your new hires.
In this article, you’ll read all about what a good onboarding experience is from us at CharlieHR and 4 small businesses and startups that got tons of experience on the subject.
At Charlie, I learnt soon enough that hiring doesn’t always go according to plan, but rather than blaming the new hire, I had to ask myself: what do we need to make them succeed?
As an HR software company, we quickly realised that there were a lot of different factors involved in building a great onboarding experience:
If we didn’t lay the groundwork for new hires to thrive, we were probably setting them up for failure – that’s why having a solid onboarding process was crucial for us.
There’s a clear process in place and easy steps to follow when you onboard with Charlie. We summarised some of it below through a checklist that you can copy and repurpose for your business:
Of course, this isn’t all there is to it, but we thought it’d be better if you read our onboarding process steps written by our People and Talent manager Finola to find out more about what our onboarding looks like.
Clear communication is crucial and encompasses:
Our team is one of the most welcoming out there, and that really makes a difference to new hires. We pride ourselves on having built a group of people with humane and approachable qualities – everyone will reach out to say hi, book time in the new hire’s calendar, and make sure they introduce themselves for a good first impression.
The other thing that sets us apart is how we’ll conduct a full assessment against our progression framework before deciding whether new hires pass, fail or get their probation extended to make sure the process is as fair as possible.
Cut down on your workload with an automated onboarding platform
eduMe is the training platform of choice for the frontline, giving everyone the opportunity to be successful at work.
This mission is complementary to the way they approach onboarding within their own ranks. Marnie Richards, Head of People at the business, shared with me some of what makes eduMe one of the best employee onboarding experiences out there.
It’s all about striving to create a positive and inclusive experience for potential new joiners throughout the entire employee lifecycle.
That means onboarding doesn’t just stop at day one but instead carries on towards the growth and development of the business.
From the moment the offer is accepted, eduMe strives to make new joiners feel welcome by:
Employee experience managers keeps in constant communication with new joiners before their start date, ensuring all of the practical steps like equipment and accounts are set up before their first day.
This allows new employees to focus on the essential things once they’ve joined. There’s also a £500 working-from-home budget available for all employees, to ensure that every joiner can work comfortably whether they’re at home or in the office.
All new joiners then get introductory meetings with Heads of Departments and our CEO – they get to know everyone and have a more in-depth understanding of the company, its values and its future.
After the initial onboarding phase, we have a robust 30-60-90 day plan and template for all of our new joiners:
Getting settled in and understanding how their role contributes to their team, their department, and the bigger picture at eduMe.
A people-first company - this belief filters from the top down, and the People team are empowered to go above and beyond.
Their last onboarding survey – sent for feedback and suggestions from new joiners – resulted in a 100% positive rating over the last six months.
Built to help managers set up what progression looks like for their team, Progression has high standards in every area of the business, including their own onboarding process.
I got in touch with Jonny Burch, Founder and CEO of Progression and Neil Cameron, co-founder and CTO, to discuss what the best employee onboarding process looked like for them.
Simply enough, it starts with a Notion template – it can seem very basic, but it’s super helpful to understand how the onboarding process is going to be split up for new hires.
Let’s take a look at what this plan is made of:
It might look like too much, but it’s never good to leave new hires alone as it can be counterproductive – they won’t know what’s expected of them.
As a remote-first team, Progression focuses on building a relationship with new hires. In practice, that means:
An early-stage startup where onboarding is still handled by co-founders – it gives a level of closeness to the business you don't often get.
With Progression, candidates also get access to progression frameworks at team.progressionapp.com - it gives them a good idea of what’s expected in the role, as well as what the potential career path looks like before they apply.
Clear, simple, and human. That’s how Megan Murphy, co-founder & CEO, describes the onboarding process they’re aiming for at Ourspace, a team design platform that equips tech leaders to make smarter org structure decisions.
Before each new joiner starts, they first get a choice on equipment preferences so they get what they need from the business.
Once that’s ticked off, they’re given access to a Trello board for onboarding that includes:
That’s the starting point of each new hire, but that’s not all they get. They also participate in a series of onboarding rituals specific to Ourspace. During their first four weeks, they end each Friday with a team-wide presentation:
These three aspects make Ourspace a great place to have an onboarding experience you won’t forget:
We opt in for employee ownership and flexibility. In everything related to how people work, we try to provide as much freedom and autonomy as possible. This includes a €1,000 home office setup for each new joiner to ensure that their workspace equips them to work as productively as possible.
Having worked with FairHQ ourselves, we know how important Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity are for businesses.
Speaking to Kate Pljaskovova, CEO & Founder at FairHQ – a platform designed to help companies with their DE&I strategy – gave me a clear view of how this can be done right from the start.
Let’s see what that looks like from the inside.
Onboarding doesn’t start from day one, but way before that. FairHQ likes to think of onboarding as straight after the offer has been accepted.
That doesn’t mean they’ll overwhelm the new hire with tons of information, but they’ll give them a structured understanding of what to expect, to cater to every kind of person – whether they’re from a different background, neurodivergent, need to plan around their lives a bit more, etc.
FairHQ wants to give new hires the space and time to adjust to their new circumstances – they also aim to gather any information way ahead of the new hire’s start date to make any necessary adjustments.
Once all questions have been answered, it’s time to prepare the onboarding plan that includes:
All that follows is a very hands-on experience. The first week is about learning all the information about the product and the business, and once that’s done, the new hire can go on to produce their first piece of work – it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s important to ensure the new hire has contributed from the get-go. They can then work on setting more ambitious targets for the weeks ahead.
Between checking in with their manager and getting to meet with their buddies, or having coffee with different people in the business, it’s also essential to make new hires feel like they’re part of the business from day 1. In a remote-first environment, it’s crucial to foster connections as much as possible.
New hires need to feel comfortable and see that their input is taken into account from day one. Doing it very early on in the new hire’s journey is crucial for FairHQ, so they can keep that motivation going throughout the probation period.
FairHQ strives to keep the excitement going and accommodates the needs of anyone depending on their set of specific circumstances. It’s really important to make onboarding stand out this way.
That’s all for today. We hope these onboarding experiences will help you shape your own. Of course, if you want to learn more about onboarding, you can have a look at our guide to understand what is onboarding as well as the following resources below: