According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the average direct cost of recruiting a replacement member of staff is £6,000 for senior managers and directors and £2,000 for other employees.
If you’re spending significant time and money identifying the right person for your vacancy, it makes sound business sense to also fully consider an effective induction process to get them “up and running” and fully integrated into your business as quickly as possible.
In this post, we want to help answer the question, – Once you have hired these talented folks, how do you make sure they get off to a good start? We reached out to some really smart people who are building innovative companies in New York City to learn what they do.
Each of these companies – ZocDoc, Thrillist, Fab, Warby Parker, Bonobos and Birchbox – has grown very fast. Although none of these companies is 10 years old, they collectively employ 1,650 people around the world. They are serious about hiring great people and making sure their new employees get off to a productive start.
Here’s what we learned from them.
Why it’s important
At Birchbox, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, co-founders, had experiences in previous jobs where the lack of formal “onboarding” made for very awkward first days – “lots of moving pencils around on the desk.” As a result of those experiences, they made a commitment to make onboarding a strength at Birchbox.
At Warby Parker, David Gilboa, a co-founder, admitted that early on, like most start-ups, the company didn’t give on-boarding any thought. New employees started, they didn’t have a computer, and they were just thrown into the fire. Now, the company is much more thoughtful about the process.
The office environment matters
Thrillist has a completely open environment with no offices and all desks clustered together. When new employees join a team, they sit out in the open with their team members. It is the “foxhole approach.” You figure it out with the team around you.
The employee handbook has been revised
ZocDoc has an employee handbook with content that is meant to be informative but in language that is interesting. The handbook itself is called The Prescription Pad. A digital copy is provided to each employee on the first day of work.
The days leading up to the first day are important
Warby Parker sends an electronic welcome packet with the company history, core values, press clippings and what a new employee should expect the first day, week and month. The night before starting, new employees get a call from their direct supervisors to make sure they know where to show up and when.
Fab wants new employees to feel the Fab embrace before they start. Before the first day, new employees receive an e-mail that shows what the agenda will be on Day 1. Then, the employee receives a physical gift bag, filled with colourful stickers, buttons and a pop phone. The bag is illustrative of the company’s excitement for the new employee and serves to underscore that Fab is a colourful place to work.
A welcoming first day is critical
Warby Parker provides a physical welcome packet on the desk of every new employee that includes a number of items important to company history: a copy of Jack Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums” (because the company was named after Kerouac characters); an army supply notebook to take notes as the new employee learns about the company; gift certificates for a free eye exam, glasses for themselves, and another pair to give as a gift; Martin’s Pretzels because the four founders always ate them when starting the company; and a gift certificate to a Thai restaurant because, when the company was getting started in Philadelphia, the only place that was open late at night was a Thai restaurant.
Birchbox prepares a new employee’s desk with a computer, candy bowl, and handmade welcome flag with the message “Hi. I’m new. Come say hi!”
It helps to have new employees start together
At ZocDoc, groups of new employees have lunch with the executive team. This makes an immediate connection with the company and demonstrates a sense of approachability with senior management.
At Birchbox , a new group of five to 10 people goes through “Life of a Birchbox” together in their second week. It is a training program to provide new employees with information on everything that happens at the company.
Make it easy for new employees to meet other people at the company
A developer at Warby Parker created “Lunch Roulette.” After each weekly team meeting, this software application randomly selects two groups of four people to go to lunch on the company’s tab. It ensures that no more than one person from each department is in a group.
At Bonobos, the hiring manager sends out an e-mail to the entire company introducing a new employee. The e-mail includes a brief biography and a photograph of the employee. It also includes a trivia game that is called “Two truths and a lie.” These are fun facts about the new employee, but only two of the three are true. In order to figure out the lie, employees are encouraged to meet the new employee. The first person to identify the lie correctly gets a $25 store credit.
In their weekly all-company meeting, senior executives at Fab introduce any new employee who has started in the previous week. That person then answers one question from the rest of the employees.
Onboarding doesn’t stop after the first day
Onboarding at Birchbox is a 30-day process. The hiring manager has clear goals for the new employee’s first 30 days, and a meeting is scheduled at the end of that month to review. There is also a one-hour session with the founders who review the mission and vision of the company.
Warby Parker has an intensive training program over the first week that every employee completes. It focuses on customer services to ensure that every employee understands the customers and knows how to make them happy. Each department head comes in to present what that department does. The founders lead a session on core values. Finally, there is retail training because every employee is a brand ambassador and should have as much knowledge as possible.
Bonobos has a formal, two-week White Belt Program that is led by the customer service team. New employees learn about the company culture, Bonobos products, the e-commerce platform, the marketing process and how to deliver customer service.
Survey new employees to make the onboarding process better
Many of these companies survey their new employees to measure the efficacy of their onboarding efforts, and the process itself is expected to evolve continuously.
We can’t end a post on onboarding without sharing the note that every new employee at Apple receives on the first day:
There’s work and there’s your life’s work.
The kind of work that has your fingerprints all over it. The kind of work that you’d never compromise on. That you’d sacrifice a weekend for. You can do that kind of work at Apple. People don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to swim in the deep end.
They want their work to add up to something.
Something big. Something that couldn’t happen anywhere else.
Welcome to Apple.