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Make the onboarding experience 'a blast' for new hires

May 13, 2021
iCIMS Staff
6 min read

Since starting a new job about a month ago, I’ve noticed that people generally tend to have the same reaction when I share the news. It usually goes somewhere along the lines of, “A new job during the pandemic? That’s gotta be tough.”

In reality, that could not have been further from the case. Even in a pandemic and with everyone still working from home, the onboarding experience at iCIMS has made the transition easy and welcoming, confirming I made the right choice by saying “yes” to their job offer a few weeks earlier.

From fun icebreakers to making sure I had the tools and technology I needed to hit the ground running on Day One, iCIMS ensured I had everything I needed to be set up for success in my new role.

Make onboarding ‘a blast’

And it’s not just me – my coworker Adam Koster, who started his new role at iCIMS just days after the pandemic began last March, told New York Post, “At first I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to have a chance to meet everyone and start building relationships in person.”

But the virtual onboarding format that the organization’s talent team was able to put together, from functional training and opportunities to get to know his fellow new hire cohort, made it a pleasant experience. “Onboarding was welcoming, informative and a blast,” he told the paper.

And why wouldn’t our new employer do everything in their power to make the onboarding experience as good as, if not better, than the hiring process? According to TalentWise, nearly 70% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for more than three years if their onboarding experience was great. Not only do employees tend to stick around longer, but they also work harder. When digital onboarding is used in the hiring stage, new hires are more productive in their first few weeks or work.

So, just what does a successful onboarding program look like? Well, for me, that can be broken down into three stages: The Feels, The Fun, and The Facts.

Keep momentum going even before Day One

Even before your new hire steps inside the office (or nowadays, logs on from home), there are steps an organization can take to maintain the momentum that built up throughout the hiring process and continue the excitement and engagement as a candidate transitions to a new hire. We call these “The Feels.”

Why is this important? Because the stakes are high, according to Jobvite’s 2019 Job Seeker Nation survey. Almost one-third of workers quit their jobs within the first 90 days, which translates into thousands of lost recruiting dollars.

In a remote work world, communication should be a priority throughout onboarding to put your new employee on the path to success. As industry expert Josh Bersin points out, “Employee experience is a journey … not a solution.”

Leading up to my own first day, my hiring manager gave an enthusiastic welcome to the team and made sure to keep me in the loop about when to expect my new office equipment and invited me to the team’s weekly standup meeting (more on that fun part later).

The recently introduced iCIMS Video Studio now gives talent acquisition teams and hiring managers the ability to personalize the onboarding experience by creating welcome videos for new hires. Branded messages can showcase your company’s culture and offer a friendly face to help new hires feel connected from the start. You can even make a video like this *before* the offer. Here’s one our creative team made for a job opening on our design team.

Add some fun to the onboarding experience

Of course, what would onboarding be without ice breakers? If you’re like me, just the phrase “breakout rooms” can trigger a wave of anxiety and make you want to hide under your desk. But at the end of the (onboarding) day, there’s no better way to get to know someone than to have to work together to solve a common problem.

Here are a few fun ideas:

Scavenger hunt

On my final day of onboarding, our class of 24 new hires broke into six groups and had 15 minutes to compete in a scavenger hunt. Before the pandemic, new hires would be scurrying around the office in a mad dash to complete the appointed tasks but during virtual onboarding, we completed online activities like connect with the CEO on LinkedIn and get a photo of a special guest, which could be one of the team’s family or pets (we got a shot on my goldendoodle).

Working together, my teammates and I cranked through the list (those millennials are fast!) and, even with the bonus question (What’s the address of our London office?), it seemed every team had come up with the same score – which we learned was just how the exercise had been designed to work out.

What’s your theme song?

For our first standup meeting together, my new team put together the following prompt for all of us to answer: You’re about to give a presentation and as they call you to the stage, they play your theme song. What is it?

One member of the group created a Spotify list of all the songs and at the meeting, we all took turns guessing which song belonged to which team member. Nothing provides a better window into your new teammate’s personality than learning that their fight song is “Mah Nah Mah Nah” from the Muppets.

Virtual show and tell

For Koster, one of the highlights of his onboarding experience last spring was participating in a virtual “Show and Tell” organized by the onboarding team. New hires were asked to share an object that would tell their new teammates something about themselves.  “It was like being in kindergarten again,” Koster said. But it gave him the opportunity to show his new hire class a note his young son had left on his pillow, which read: “Good luck on your first day at your new job, Dad.”

Just the facts

The iCIMS talent team communicated next steps, including information needed for background checks and filling out paperwork that would be used to create a file on my iCIMS journey that could be used in the future to advance my career here.

To get up to speed faster, employers can use text messaging to remind new hires to complete time sensitive onboarding tasks, such as drug screens. Compared to emails or voicemails, text messages get a 99% open rate and 37% response rate, which far exceeds slower forms of communication.

Starting on Day One, iCIMS presented a big group of new hires a thorough lay of the land – from how to sign up for health insurance and direct deposit to compliance training, all through its virtual onboarding program. The group learned about company culture and had opportunities to listen to the CEO and C-suite team talk company vision and answer questions.

Don’t drop the onboarding ball

Your talent team created a winning candidate experience. That shouldn’t end when the offer letter is signed. A quick hand-off from talent to HR is a missed opportunity. By keeping new hires engaged employers not only set a path for success but ensure that their newest team members are in for the long haul. Like me.

Learn more about employee onboarding with our definitive guide to find more ways for improving your new hire experience.


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