A Memorable Onboarding Experience

“Facts, Opinions and Value Statements push people apart, Stories bring people together”

Imagine you’re travelling to a foreign country and visiting a place that has historic value. The guide over there speaks to you about Motivational Quotes and doesn’t help you with a story, would you like that experience? The answer is “NO”, I mean Bruhad, how could this be a great experience? The onboarding experience, for a new joinee, is similar to travelling the world and wanting to know more about the places we’ve visited. If the story is not compelling enough, our experience goes for a toss and you feel the investment was not worth it. This was a similar challenge that I faced in one of my previous organizations I worked with and we were scratching our heads on how to make it a fruitful onboarding experience for the employees.

As Design Thinking Practitioners we are used to going back to asking the right question and that’s what I did. The original onboarding process was about engaging the participants and giving them information, but it was more about the experience, so we changed the problem statement to “How might we transition from Employee Engagement to Employee Experience” and then started ideating on how to create a great experience for the employees. The solutions changed from showing Company History, Processes, Policies to storytelling and gamification of things in a way that the participants could get an immersive experience of what the organization stood for. We experimented it and well, it was a grand success. So, what made this entire project successful? Was it the unique idea of introducing stories and gamification? Or Was it about understanding what the end user needs? It was about what the new joinee’s expect when they come to the organization and that’s what led us to creating memorable experiences for the freshers

My experience with organizations is that somewhere the process gets restricted to Vision, Mission, Value Statements with Functional Heads and the HR teams talking about their specific domains. Some organizations conduct activities to influence behavior (And please stop calling them Soft Skill activities) in order to keep the engagement levels high. While that’s good, and I’m not against it, this motivation lasts for a day or probably a week, wherein the new joinee’s start feeling, “Oh, this is not what we subscribed for, but it’s ok, we’re getting our salaries right”. Now the mindset right at the start of joining the organization becomes compliance oriented and then the organization’s expect leaders to be produced with this mindset. All new joinees may not think in the same way, but somewhere there’s a perception that gets set about what will happen in onboarding, so the surprise element goes for a frenzy. With all this said, what can teams do to make this a memorable experience for the new joinees?

  • Think about it as an investment of time rather than just filling blocks: Every new joinee comes with a CTC (Cost to Company) which the organization has invested. Think about this experience as investing INR XYZ or $ XYZ during those 2-4 days and getting something out of it. For e.g. If a new joinee has a CTC of INR 5 Lakhs to the year, think about it as an investment of INR 6,000/- approximately for 4 days and see how soon can you get an ROI from this new joinee by making him/her productive at the earliest. There are many such calculations which I help HR teams think of when I consult organizations. You can always connect with me to understand these services
  • Focus on building your Organization’s brand: The biggest mistake teams do is, here’s the excel sheet, this is what we need to do, we have 30-minute slots, how do I fill them. Let’s look at what we did last year and replicate the same. And every single year you do the same, because you don’t have the time to think about the experience. But, if you invest time in giving that experience to the employees, imagine the kind of recognition that your organization as a brand will get. This will help you to attract the right kind of talent for the future as well.
  • Convert Data to Insights using Story-showing: We love data, isn’t it? Everyone wants to showcase the power of analytics using data and making those confusing presentations. Making simple things complex will only lead to the new joinees not wanting to listen to you because there’s no WIIFM (What’s in it for me) here. What they’re looking for is information that can help them understand what the company expects from them and how they can add value rather than numbers that show revenue/growth, etc. You must show them that to make them understand that they’re joining a great organization but the focus should be on how they can add value. This is where you convert data to insights using Story-showing. I have been conducting many sessions on Story-Showing and you can connect with me to know more about how to execute this piece
  • Gamify: The last piece is a rather interesting one which helped me to get a lot of recognition from the leadership teams in my previous organizations. Converting your onboarding experience to an offline board game or a live simulation helps the new joinees connect a lot more with the organization than just presentations and stories. An amalgamation of Stories + Gamification is probably the best combination that I could think of and that’s one of the sections in my Module called Game Thinking, where I help participants decode simulations and board games to create their own customized board games to help solve onboarding problems along with real life problems

Insightful isn’t it? My team felt the same when we worked on this concept and it’s an enriching experience for the one’s conducting it as much the one’s experiencing it and that’s the beauty of stories. There is no single way of doing this and that’s what breaks the monotony to end up in an immersive experience for both sides. I have been helping teams decode this problem and you could always connect with me to know more about how to “Create a Memorable Onboarding Experience”. Happy reading and wishing my readers all the best for the implementation of this piece. Remember “Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced”

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