In a recent case study detailing what worked and what didn’t, Dee Vitale, director of talent acquisition at Sage Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA, shares how her company repaired an ineffective onboarding program:
It’s no secret that onboarding often gets overlooked and lumped together with a new hire’s orientation.
Onboarding programs often fail because there’s no real accountability and no one in charge of them. Too often, it’s viewed as a “check the box” item and nothing more.
With this in mind, we took a closer look at our onboarding process and saw some issues.
The first was that many existing employees didn’t have a ton of knowledge about the company in general or the role they played in the grand scheme of things.
Another problem was that new hires’ managers were often in charge of their onboarding … but weren’t sure what to do.
3 key elements
To address this, HR got together and designed a completely new framework for onboarding.
We really focused on ensuring the process extended far past first day orientation, and involved everyone in the company — not just new employees.
We came up with three key elements of our new program:
- New-hire orientation: This is typical first day information for new hires, including an official welcome and a rundown of basic company operations.
- Department-level onboarding: This is where new hires meet their colleagues, learn how their department contributes to the company’s overall success and understand how the team operates.
- All Aboard: This event is for every employee to attend. New hires and veteran employees get to mix and mingle in a natural setting. It’s a great way for people to meet higher-ups they don’t run into every day.
Trained our leaders
Once we had a solid plan that everyone could follow, we got managers and leaders involved — because it truly does take a village to successfully onboard new hires.
We let managers know that while we designed the process, they were the ones who’d run it and be held accountable.
Not every manager initially felt up to the challenge, so we developed a special leadership training program for them.
The training reinforced basic management fundamentals, directed participants to resources and tools, and sharpened leadership skills.
The big picture
Thanks to our revamp, both new and veteran employees are more engaged and happier.
New hires learn about their role in the company from the start, and current employees are reminded of how important they are to us.
Those who attend our All Aboard events constantly tell us how much they enjoyed meeting colleagues they don’t normally run into, and learning more about the company’s history and core values.
Everyone knows how they fit into the big picture now, and they’re all better employees because of it.