Onboarding a new onboarding

Femke Feenstra Femke Feenstra
04 - 08 - 2020


Onboarding new staff is always an interesting experience, both for the new employee and the person introducing them to the company’s values and their job. So how did we manage to onboard a new onboarding during a pandemic? Well, it started off quite easy. As we didn’t have a set onboarding program, we didn’t have anything to replace or change! So, we started with a clean slate and one simple goal: give new employees every opportunity to succeed at our company. We asked ourselves: “What do we expect a new employee to be able to do after they’re done onboarding?” To define this clearly, we made a description of each role within the company and the expectations and responsibilities that come with each role. We also added the factor of work experience and personal growth. And with that, we laid the groundwork for our new onboarding.

A warm welcome

A new job doesn’t really start on day 1. It starts with the recruitment process and the days in between the hire and the first day of work. At El Niño, we have a trial day for most roles as we think that you can’t learn everything from an interview and reviewing actual work gives applicants a chance to show off. This also means that, come their first day, they’re not completely new to the company. To ensure starting a new job still feels like a celebration, we created fun postcards that we send new employees and we provide them with clear instructions on what to expect from their first day. Not just a time and place to be at, or a Zoom link to call in to, but also things like where to park, what we do for lunch etc. Equipment and accounts are naturally taken care of and working well. And of course, we ensure that when they're in the office for the first time they have some company goodies waiting on their desk!

Clear expectations

Then comes the first day. An exciting time for both the new hire and their teammates. Depending on the location of the employee and the applicable government rules concerning the corona-measures we either meet in the office or plan a call to start of their first day. During this first day we focus first on what El Niño is all about, and where their role fits in. This, we find, is very important. Only if you know where your work fits in to the company, do you truly feel like you contribute and that your work is valued and important. And those are some of our company's core values. We also set clear expectations of what we would like the new team member to strive for in the first day, week, fortnight, month and quarter. By providing these, the new team member can gauge how they’re doing and feel in control of their first weeks. More importantly: by setting expectations we can work towards fulfilling these together.

A new buddy

To ensure the onboarding isn’t just a parade of PowerPoints and Zoom calls we also wanted to add a social element to the first weeks. While the new team member’s manager guides them through the expectations and company goals, a major part of onboarding is getting to know the company’s quirks, unwritten rules and working with all the systems. For each new hire we ask a team member to be their onboarding buddy. This can be someone who will be on their team, a more experienced team member in a similar role or just someone we think they would get along with. Their buddy is there to chat with them, see how they’re doing and to ask any questions they might have. A buddy can also introduce them to other co-workers and make sure they catch on quickly. From logging hours and how to complete projects to pointing the way to the bathrooms, it’s great to have a buddy from day 1.

What’s the added value?

Of course, an onboarding takes time from both the new employee and the people that will be guiding them. But to us, having a new team member feel welcome, excited and well informed on the expectations regarding their job is important, as it means they’re more likely to be happy and productive in their job and feel comfortable contributing faster. Only time will tell of course, but to ensure we keep improving, new hires are asked to fill out short surveys during and after their onboarding. So far, it’s looking good! Of course, the Corona pandemic has changed a lot for many companies and the same goes for ours. Luckily most of our work can be done online and our team has adjusted amazingly to all the changes. With this new onboarding we hope to welcome people more effectively in our growing company, whether fully remote or 1.5 meters/6 ft away.

Femke Feenstra. Femke is the Operations Manager at El Niño and ensures our company runs smoothly and we keep pushing ourselves. Femke Feenstra. Femke is the Operations Manager at El Niño and ensures our company runs smoothly and we keep pushing ourselves.

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