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If you think employee engagement is just about engagement surveys and Gallup’s 12 magical employee engagement questions or if you think it only applies to your current employees, you’re missing out on a lot! If you approach employee engagement early enough through onboarding, the long term benefits on corporate culture can be easily realized. We took newcomer onboarding very seriously in one of the companies I worked for in a previous life. Matter of fact, we had four separate processes related to newcomer onboarding at that company, I’ll start this series with the first process. The Newcomer Welcome process started from the moment a job candidate changed status on our Applicant Tracking System from “applicant” to a “new hire”, literary as soon as they accepted the offer and set a starting day with HR, that’s when Corporate Communications stepped in as custodians of the corporate culture and warlords of employee engagement.

Engagement Begins Before Joining

Let’s go back to the offer part, you see, the offering process was quite unusual on its own. This part of the process is quite exciting, and it was inspired from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Let me explain. So you’re a job applicant, and you’ve been going through several interviews, you finished your last interview and you’re told “we’ll get back to you”. After a few days (or weeks) you would get an email from us with subject line “Your Application to ACME Corp”. You open the email and read something like “Click here for information regarding your application to ACME Corp” and a link.

The link opens a video that starts with some generic messages about ACME Corp, photos of employees having fun, working, and learning, and so on. The music starts building up, and the messages start saying things like: come closer… everyone here… is sending you this message… you’ve been accepted… welcome home. Then you start hearing applause, and some more messages about the benefits of working for ACME Corp. It was an incredible video, very inspirational, and makes you super hyped about joining ACME Corp. Anyway, at the end of the video, there’s a link that takes you to the offer details, and you’re told to give HR a call to set your joining date. Once the start date is set, the new employee is added to a Sharepoint list called the Allocation List, where all departments like IT, Administration, and Facilities get notifications to prepare workspace, email account, and so on.

Corporate Communications’ role on the Allocation List is to establish personal contact with the newcomer, be their primary go to person during the notice period and tell them what to do on the first day. The first day for a newcomer at ACME Corp is a very special day. We used to hire in batches of (sometimes) 30 per month, so the first day was a little crazy.

Engagement on Day 1

When an ACME Corp newcomer first steps into the office on their first day, they are greeted by a member of Corporate Communications (usually the person who established first contact), and a bunch of cool stuff happens. First, they go on a tour of the facility which usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour. This tour involves passing by the President’s office and introducing the newcomer, and almost every time, the President would take a few minutes to personally welcome the newcomer to ACME Corp. The tour continues with the rest of the facility and by all the administrative departments and executive offices, and ends at the newcomer’s assigned cubicle/workstation.

At their assigned cubicle, the Communications member would take a photo of the newcomer first, show them their computer and how to login and some basic stuff for a few minutes. Within a few minutes, a gigantic basket of breakfast goodies like croissants, Danish, and muffins is delivered to the newcomer, a big red arrow pointing down with the word “NEWCOMER” is already mounted on the ceiling above the newcomer’s cubicle from the night before. Within a few minutes a Staff email is sent with the newcomer’s picture, name, title, and background info like hobbies and interests inviting everyone to pass by the newcomer and enjoy breakfast goodies and introduce themselves to the new fella.

Engagement After the First Day

It’s usually around noon by the time the festivities are over, and now the direct manager takes over, but Corporate Communications is not done yet. The newcomer is scheduled to the Orientation Program that happens once per month. The Orientation Program is a two-day program that teaches the newcomer everything they need to know about ACME Corp, but I’ll talk about that in more detail in another article.

Another program that kicks in for newcomers is the Mentorship Program where the newcomer is assigned a personal mentor. Someone to continue with the newcomer where Corporate Communications left off. Again, I’ll talk about that in a future article.

Lessons Learned

The various processes involving newcomers served a variety of purposes; first and foremast, they were intended to inspire and engage the newcomer from even before they joined the company, and they did so beautifully. Remember your first day on the job or at school and how awkward and out of place you felt? The facility tour instantly broke the ice and got them feeling at home from the get go, the breakfast basket and Staff email got everyone around to walk up to the newcomer and introduce themselves. The Allocation List had a section for each department to mark their duties as completed, it reminded all departments of what they had to do and it came after a series of mishaps and unfortunate events like newcomers without a workspace or email.

Share your thoughts!

How do you onboard newcomers? What happens when a new employee joins your company?