Via Business 2 Community : Why Google’s Onboarding Process Works 25% Better Than Everyone Else’s
Even tech giants have humble beginnings.
In the halcyon days when Google was making the transition from a bedroom to a rented garage in Menlo Park, it won’t surprise you to learn they didn’t have a tight onboarding process in place.
For years Google ran on a single, sprawling spreadsheet including a ranked list of the company’s top 100 projects. The projects were confusingly graded on a scale between “far out” and “skunkworks”, and the founders handled the process with a ‘who cares’ attitude.
Since that point, everyone knows Google has made leaps not only in the Internet space but also in the workplace. The company is the #3 world’s most valuable brand and the #3 best employer in America. Its made extremely effective tweaks to its hiring process over the years, but what isn’t reported as often is its approach to new employee onboarding — the process of getting a new hire equipped with everything they need to integrate into the company culture, work effectively and succeed.
The wackier aspects of Google’s orientation process are widely known. We’ve heard about the Noogler beanies with motorized propellers, and the Mountain View all-Noogler TGIF meetings where the founders “just come in and make some dad jokes”. The inner workings of the process, however — the parts that make it so notoriously effective — aren’t as obvious.
In this article, I’m going to run through the nuts and bolts of Google’s ‘just in time’ employee onboarding process, and some of the supporting events that happen during.
Google’s ‘just in time’ onboarding checklist
Just one day before a new hire joins, the hire’s manager is sent an email with five small tasks that will need their attention.
The list is pretty simple:
- Have a discussion about roles and responsibilities
- Match the new hire with a peer buddy
- Help the new hire build a social network
- Set up employee onboarding check-ins once a month for the new hire’s first six months
- Encourage open dialogue
The fact that managers get sent these instructions with only 24 hours to prepare plays on the recency effect — the tendency for people to recall the last thing that happened to them better than things in between.
Put simply, getting that email in front of the manager “just in time” makes it easier to remember. This, in turn, means that they are more likely to execute it correctly.
The email isn’t mass mailed, either. It’s sent only to the manager who needs to see it, making them feel like they’re directly responsible for getting it done. The checklist is no-nonsense and doesn’t include a ton of instructional material, which is instead given to the Noogler with more time on their hands to get familiar with it.
After all, when creating reference materials and checklists (especially if you’re strapped for time), bare-bones is always the way to go.
This small change — creating a sense of urgency and responsibility — has improved onboarding results by 25% at Google.
Why Google’s checklist is laser-focused on company culture
If you look through the five steps of Google’s onboarding checklist, you’ll notice that three of them are focused purely on company culture.
That’s because Google is known to be more than your average organization with bland corporate practices. They believe it’s the “people that make Google the kind of company it is”.
Much like startups, Google is known for turning their noses up at a stuffy work environment. Despite being one of the world’s biggest companies it still acts like it’s a fun-loving founding team from the early days.
Maybe that’s why it ranks so highly as an employer – it has the same attitude towards traditional employment spaces as most of us do to working in them.
Google has learned to prioritize relationships and fun at work because studies have shown happy employees outperform the competition by 20% and are 12% more productive. In fact, Google raised its employee satisfaction by 37% by implementing company culture initiatives.
During the onboarding process, Google supports employee development by educating employees and inducting them into company culture (with both lectures and beers).
Obviously, this won’t work for everyone and it highly depends on the kind of culture your company has. Latham & Watkins LLP (the world’s top-earning law firm) wouldn’t blend quite so well with a more informal or employee-centric company as their clients (and their security) should always come before anything else.
That’s why Google is (almost) unique in this way. Even though the atmosphere and work naturally come with a lot of pressure, it’s the collaborative nature and culture that lets employees at places like Google and Pixar truly thrive.
Hosting a series of intense lectures
While many companies train employees on the job by getting them to dive into the task and learn as they go, Google can spend upwards of two weeks immersing new hires in the culture, and Google-specific theory such as ‘the life of a query’ and ‘the life of an ad’.
This educational approach and fast-response onboarding are necessary because even brand new employees get to work on important projects and key features of the Google architecture.
It’s not that they don’t trust their new employees to work on important projects. It’s more that they give their new employees a crash course in everything they need to know and then give them a chance to prove themselves on something that really matters.
Unlike other onboarding processes, Google’s will put trust in you as part of the open approach to company culture and inclusion. As you might imagine, that shows a level of confidence that will almost certainly rub off on new hires.
You’re not starting from the bottom on menial tasks, which gives you an incentive to stick with it through the hard work and really try your best.
In return, it’s easy to suggest that Google benefits just as much from these new appointments due to that drive to prove themselves capable. After all, it stands to reason that this would demonstrate to the team what the new hire is capable of at this early stage and thus all more effective placement on future projects.
Educating about company culture
When you join Google, you’ve got a lot of mental molding to happen before you can be part of the hallowed ranks. You’re going to need a mix of technical knowledge and company culture education to slot seamlessly into your new role.
Some things don’t change from company to company – the amount of studying you’ll need to do varies depending on your role. It can be anything from none (all optional classes) to two weeks of lectures from senior engineers where they talk about their experience and share their “engineering perspective”.
Kellen Donahue, a former Google software engineer says:
“It seems very overwhelming. There’s so much to learn and read, and at times it seems like when you really understand a concept you realize you just saw the tip of the iceberg”
Of course, there’s more to company culture than lectures and education.
Nooglers are welcomed with a friendly drink after work, but as well as that, the booze flows freely during TGIF meetings. As one engineer pointed out, “if you try hard enough, you can always find alcohol”. Whether or not this negatively affects their work isn’t easy to measure, but you can be sure it helps break the ice and gets new employees feeling comfortable — and that’s mostly what orientation is all about.
Google’s company culture is far from typical, so this kind of instruction from senior employees is great for showing them what a long-term stay might look like. Coupled with the alcoholic icebreaker, you have a potent mix designed to help new hires immediately get stuck into their culture and up to speed with any expectations.
Adopt Google’s onboarding process in your own culture
I won’t sit here and pretend that Google is the perfect template of how to onboard and interact with all employees. It isn’t, and neither are other such standout examples of how companies treat their employees (like Pixar).
However, when discarding the culture the onboarding process itself is absolutely still relevant to almost any company.
The principles behind it cover everything a healthy employer-employee relationship needs:
- Specifically laying out roles and responsibilities to both parties
- Giving support to the new hire (a peer buddy) to ease initial friction
- Introducing the hire to teammates and other contacts to break the ice and start building their network
- Checking in on them once per month to field questions and smooth out the process without micromanaging
- Encouraging open dialogue to get useful feedback to improve your own processes
All you have to do now is to take those principles and apply them to your own employee onboarding processes and adapt the whole thing to tie into your company culture.
If you don’t already have a documented onboarding process, check out our free new employee onboarding processes for some ready-to-use templates.
Via Forbes : Second Impressions: The Impact Of Effective Onboarding
You heard it at the start of every school year and probably before interviewing for your first job: You only get one chance to make a first impression. Nobody I know disagrees, and what was true for kids holds true when we become adults — or in my case, when we find ourselves suddenly older and in charge of a business and a family, despite still feeling like a kid inside.
But what about the second impression?
As I started to write about onboarding, I thought about how people miss the boat on how much impact it has. That made me ask: Why? When organizations spend millions of hours, brain cells and dollars on their recruiting efforts, why do they drop the ball on a no-brainer opportunity to keep that positive momentum going?
That’s when I realized the reason: Onboarding is the second impression. Nobody has been repeating for years that the second impression matters as much as the first. Maybe that’s why some organizations give onboarding minimal attention even when the numbers prove how essential it is.
The Impact Is Real
I’ve been a believer in the power of effective onboarding for some time now, but I didn’t realize how truly dramatic its impact was until we retrieved the results of our recently conducted survey on the subject. In surveying 1,024 U.S.-based full-time-employed adults, we learned that over 80% of employees who rated their onboarding experience highly feel strongly committed to their jobs and have higher role clarity than those who had a poor onboarding experience. Employees who felt their onboarding experience was effective were 30 times more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs, compared to those who rated their onboarding as ineffective.
We can’t say for certain that onboarding is the direct cause of these outcomes. The best we can do is to prove there’s a significant link between them. A sampling of outcomes includes higher feelings of engagement, commitment, perceived support, perceived organizational performance — all of which have been shown in other research to boost bottom-line performance. Even if these outcomes are not the direct result of effective onboarding alone, they show that effective onboarding is a strategic initiative shared by successful companies. In other words, they’re doing something right and onboarding is clearly part of it.
The Relationship Theory
My theory about how onboarding creates that lift goes something like this: If you want to get the most out of any relationship, you not only have to start out on the right foot, you also have to keep the effort up. You’ll make mistakes — everyone does, in business and in our personal lives — but it’s not perfection that matters, it’s the effort and honesty that stands out to people and creates the bond. And the stronger the positive bond — whether it’s between an employer and employee or between friends or family members — the more likely it is you can achieve great things together.
In business, keeping that effort up means showing new employees you care about more than finding them and signing them on. You have to show you care about how well they’ll perform at their new jobs, that they have a clear vision of their role in your organization and that they know what you expect from them.
These are just a few ways you can show you’re more than simply an employer from the very first day of employment. Your efforts to seek and provide understanding show you value the time and effort people are spending on your behalf and that you’re ready and willing to support them in return.
The Onboarding Opportunity
Onboarding is the best time to establish all the above. From compliance forms and policy training to culture and team introductions, onboarding is an all-you-can-eat buffet of opportunities to show and prove the care your organization has for its people.
Some of it is simply looking at your process and paying attention to the details. For example, can you make any of the tedious things like paperwork take less time? If so, you’ll have more time to engage with new people in person or bring training for essential policies up to date with memorable programs or a funny video.
Other parts have to come from deeper within the organization: benefits education is critical, but offering good benefits in the first place is a much bigger decision about how you treat employees; culture training can be engaging, but it relies on an established culture. What these examples really prove is that onboarding is critical, but it isn’t the most critical part. The philosophy of caring is a cultural keystone, and everything else — onboarding, benefits, training, even improving your processes — grows from there. It’s been said a thousand times that culture is crucial, and this is further proof that making culture the priority (not a priority) is the first step.
All of it works. The numbers prove it on paper, but forget about the numbers — talk to people about their experience, and you’ll understand that it all matters. The effort you put in during onboarding reinforces an employee’s decision to sign on, and the positive outcomes pay off for the organization on the first day and every day after.
Metaphorically speaking, effective onboarding is a promise. It makes you, the employer, accountable for the things you preach and teach, while new employees gain a greater understanding of the promise they’re making to you by becoming part of your organization. If employer and employee can keep that promise to each other, the payoff is a strong positive bond that can influence outcomes far into the future. You may never get a second chance to make that first impression, but onboarding gives your organization an opportunity to make the best out of every new employee’s experience — an impression that matters just as much.
Via Gallup : Why the Onboarding Experience Is Key for Retention
“Rock Stars Wanted” might not be the job-posting headline, but it’s the underlining message companies communicate during the recruiting process.
Most companies want the best talent, and they do not shy away from making that perfectly clear. Slackers need not apply.
So they woo candidates with promises of unique cultures, perks and opportunities during the recruitment phase. And the company’s employee value proposition (EVP) becomes a distraction meant to lure top talent and set the stage for what’s to come if you’re one of the fortunate few — one of a kind — who receives the coveted offer letter.
A company’s EVP sets the stage and expectations for the rest of the new hire’s employee experience.
Unfortunately, many organizations fail to deliver on the promises they make during recruitment, resulting in a poor onboarding experience and a setback to the connection they initially established with the new star.
Gallup finds that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees. This failure gets in the way of the formation of an emotional bond between the new hire and the company — a connection that can make or break retention.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee turnover can be as much as 50% in the first 18 months of employment. Employees leaving the workforce can be expensive and put pressure on highly burdened resources as well as a company’s financial bottom line.
SHRM estimates that it will cost a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to identify and onboard a replacement. Others in the field believe the cost to be much higher.
How to Avoid New Hire Turnover and Disengagement by Understanding the Journey
The decision to join a new organization is often accompanied by leaving another, and new hires are placing bets that their new role will be better than the last, fulfilling a need the previous employer was not. It is a decision that starts with rational considerations but is ultimately decided based on emotions.
Applying for a new job is a decision that people make after asking for opinions from friends, family and colleagues. It’s a choice they make after searching online for ratings and reviews from current and past employees, and after listening to the company’s promises during recruitment.
After making this decision, all future interactions people have with their new employer shape their perceptions of what it is like to be on the “inside” — to be an integral member of the organization.
From an employee perspective, onboarding involves a series of firsts: first day on the job, first time meeting a manager and coworkers, first work projects and tasks, and first opportunities to share their talents with the organization.
Eager about their new role, enthusiastic about how they will contribute and anxious about how their colleagues will receive them, new hires head off to their new position with visions of what it will be like when they arrive.
This anticipation is accompanied by high levels of adrenaline as the excitement — and nervousness — builds for that first day, week and month.
With all of this in mind, companies should make sure new hires feel welcomed and immediately appreciated, quickly developing a sense of purpose and belonging.
From an employer perspective, onboarding is the best time to deliver on the EVP and other promises made during the job-seeking and candidacy stages.
Rock Star Employees Wanted but Not Truly Welcomed
The transition from candidate to employee should feel like a natural handoff that continues the momentum and fuels the excitement for the new job.
Deviating from the energy generated during the hiring phase to treating the phase of onboarding as a one-day — or one-week — event, or as an administrative process focused on paperwork, orientation manuals and supply cabinet shopping, puts an early strain on the employee-employer relationship.
Throwing new hires into work immediately without training or context, not socializing — or even introducing — them to the rest of the team, focusing on tactical work too early, or not meeting and receiving feedback from managers early and often are more the norm than the exception.
But this isn’t how it should be. Companies should treat onboarding with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm equal to or greater than that of the new hire’s. The time leading up to and extending beyond the first day on the job is all part of onboarding.
Don’t lose the momentum you’ve gained during attraction and recruitment by failing to deliver during the onboarding process. Welcome new hires like they are the rock stars you diligently selected.
If you don’t welcome new employees like rock stars, the experiential disappointment could start them off on an emotionally slippery slope, leading to low engagement and seeking out a new opportunity.
Via Facility Executive : 8 Tips For Onboarding Employees
The days and weeks after employees join your facility management department represent a time of unique opportunity.
The days and weeks after employees start in your facility management department represent a time of unique opportunity. Can you teach them new systems and skills? Of course you can. But have you also stopped to consider all the other important goals you can reach during the onboarding period? To name just a few, facility management leaders can…
- Grow and encourage adoption of your culture
- Get new hires to understand, promote, and believe in your vision and organization’s brand
- Sow the seeds for outstanding customer service
- Cultivate the kind of spirit and energy that customers will value
- Hear creative ideas from new employees who have a fresh perspective
- Build retention by proving that your organization is a great place to work
- Set up communication channels with new hires that will improve operations throughout the organization
Those are only a few of the opportunities you have during employees’ first weeks at your organization. But how can you take advantage of them? Here are eight approaches that work.
1. Start by Having a Well-Defined Onboarding System.
Many companies just wing it, with negative results. Still other companies see onboarding as little more than filling out forms, setting up company email accounts, and showing new employees to their workspaces. Because new hires start their jobs without a deeper understanding of what is expected of them, they make mistakes that quickly become costly habits that must be corrected later on.
Many problems can be avoided if you set up a structured onboarding system that functions as high-level training. On their start days, new hires can meet individually with HR representatives to fill out forms, for example, and then meet as a group to watch videos and learn about your company, its brand, and its values. After lunch, they can be trained in the basic skills their jobs demand; watching training videos, engaging in work simulations and working alongside current employees can work well to reach those goals. And after day one, they should attend regular follow-ups to address problems and reinforce basic concepts and skills.
The operative strategy is to clearly define ahead of time exactly the skills and behaviors you need, and to create a concise mini-curriculum that tracks to them.
2. Set Up Genuine Mentoring Relationships between New Hires and Successful Current Employees.
Remember, mentors’ goals should not be to get new hires to imitate what they do, or even to adhere to company systems. Their purpose is to discover what new employees would like to accomplish at your company, and to help them reach those goals. In short, mentoring is not about the mentors or strictly about your company, but about the employees who are being coached.
3. Find Ways to De-layer and Free Up Communications
Invite new employees to brainstorming sessions where their new ideas are collected, posted, discussed — and put into action when appropriate. Also consider setting up de-layered systems — like virtual suggestion boxes on your company intranet — where employees at all levels can present suggestions directly to top company executives. If employees can only submit ideas to their immediate managers, you have created a communication structure that carries a risk of demotivating front-line and entry-level personnel; just one supervisor who stifles new ideas can do great damage to your company.
4. Don’t Do Training on the Cheap.
One thing is for certain: if you are only handing out employee handbooks and having new employees fill out withholding forms, you are missing out on some great opportunities. If you can set up mobile training that sends out pings to remind employees to use specific skills they learned in training, for example, you could increase your training ROI dramatically. The lesson? Spending a little more to deliver great training is a money-maker, not a cost.
5. Within Your Budget, Customize Training for Each Employee.
Even “standardized” training can be enriched by creating individualized training elements for each new employee. You can evaluate the skills of your new hires during training and address them directly, for example, or help employees overcome anxiety about performing certain parts of their new jobs. Investing just a little time to give training extra value can go a long way toward getting new employees up to speed faster.
6. Stress and Reinforce Your Mission Statement, Vision Statement, and Strategic Plan.
The onboarding period is a highly effective time to share the big picture about your orgnaization and to get employees to buy into your most important goals and priorities. Instead of waiting for employees to discover these critical priorities, start talking about them soon after new hires come on board.
7. Consider Creating a Career Plan for all New Employees.
You won’t want to do this for seasonal or short-term employees. But for employees whom you would like to stay with you for the long term, consider sitting down with each of them to create individual career development plans that spell out what they need to do to be promoted within your organization. You could say, for example, that the organization will provide technical training to help them move into their desired career path at your organization.
Millennials, especially, are more likely to stay for the long term if they know the ropes and understand what it takes to build a long-term relationship with your organization.
8. Evaluate Whether You Are Acting like a Great Employer.
This is something you should always do, not only when you are training a new class of employees. So take the time now to benchmark your company climate, benefits, quality of work/life balance, and other factors against others. Unless you have the best of everything, you cannot expect your employees to commit to working with you for the long term.
You see, retention starts with you, not with your employees. Unless you commit your efforts to becoming an “employer of choice” — a company that people talk about and would love to work for — your department will not be contributing its fullest potential to the organization overall.
Via Human Resource Executive : Does Your Onboarding Need Some Work?
According to a new survey, HR leaders think their organizations’ new-hire programs are lacking.
Onboarding—or the process by which companies acclimate new employees to their positions, and to the organizations’ policies and practices—can be a vital opportunity for new hires. However, it’s one many companies are missing out on, according to a new report.
New Hire Momentum: Driving the Onboarding Experience, by Kronos Inc. and Human Capital Institute, surveyed 350 HR leaders about their companies’ new-hire strategies. One of the most significant findings was that 76 percent of respondents—who represent U.S. companies of varying sizes and in different industries—said their organizations underutilize onboarding. Nearly a quarter of participants said their employer has no onboarding program at all.
Of those that do have an established strategy, the focus may need some work. Study organizers proposed there are three main types of onboarding content: people, performance and paperwork. Far too often, they found, new-hire programs center on the latter.
Survey respondents said that more than 40 percent of their onboarding programs for external hires are paperwork-centric, such as filling out benefits forms and going over compliance documents. But that’s not where the emphasis should be, they said.
Sixty-two percent of participants think the primary goal of onboarding is to integrate employees into the office culture. In reality, that “people” focus only accounts for 30 percent of onboarding for managers, and just 27 percent for non-managers.
Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group Inc., notes that many organizations aim to get new employees right “out on the floor,” leaving HR to “cover the paperwork.”
“The reality is, employees would be more productive if they had time to digest all of the change and newness that comes with starting a job,” Lauby says. “New hires would be more engaged if they understood how they fit into the organizational culture and how their actions contribute to strategic goals.”
Among the activities survey respondents said can best acclimate new employees to a company’s culture are meetings with key stakeholders and senior leadership, team-building activities and peer mentoring. It’s not just about making small talk with the person in the cubicle next to you; the study found that companies whose new-hire programs more strongly emphasize a people approach report better talent and business outcomes.
That statistic supports other research that points to the business case for good onboarding: For instance, a 2007 study from the Wynhurst Group found that new hires who undergo a formal onboarding program are nearly 60 percent more likely to stick with the company three years later than those who didn’t.
However, respondents in the Kronos/HCI study largely reported that their organizations weren’t well-positioned to support an effective onboarding process. Fifty-seven percent said managers were overtasked and don’t have time to invest in acclimating new hires. Other challenges include the inconsistent application of onboarding programs, a lack of tools to measure their effectiveness and insufficient technology to automate the process.
Lauby—an author, writer, speaker and consultant on HR topics—says companies can face those challenges by simplifying the onboarding process to three key elements: what employees need to know, when they need to know it and how they can get that information.
“Do employees need to know about performance expectations during week one? Yes. Do they need to know how to transfer to a different department? Probably not right away,” Lauby says, adding onboarding should be looked at as a “long-term process,” and one that also encourages new hires to do some self-learning.
“By effectively managing new hires’ time and company resources, employees can become productive at an optimal pace,” Lauby says.