New Hire Practices

I know that there are no “best practices” in new hire development, also known as onboarding, as each organization is unique and often rather complex. However, there are some practices that could make onboarding better in certain contexts. I’ve looked at several examples and am very interested in unique practices (outliers) beyond the corporate norm.

I’d appreciate any unique examples if you can share them.

Unemployed Girl by Kazimir Malevich (1904)

ReferenceOnboarding bookmarks on Diigo

Here are some of the key themes that I found about onboarding programs across many organizations.

Personal, dedicated coaching for each new hire (Capital One, Nokia).

Connecting each new hire to to key contacts in the organization (Capital One, Nokia). Note that Nokia will even pay for new hires to travel to other locations to meet their key contacts and co-workers.

Ensuring new hires understand the shadow or informal part of the organization through the use of tools such as network maps (Jon Katzenbach, Senior Partner of Booz & Company, author of The Wisdom of Teams).

Pairing with another worker or even tripling with two experienced workers and getting to work immediately, in order to reduce formal training (Menlo Innovations)

Two actions that can begin even before a formal offer is made:

  1. Providing access to an online knowledge base.
  2. Connecting to an internal social network to connect online & ask questions.

Embedding collaboration from the start by co-developing an individualized new hire program.

Giving time for new hires to just look around and talk to people (Semco SA; New Seasons Market)

Having weekly/monthly new hire welcome breakfasts, lunches & Happy Hours which all managers attend.

Other common qualities of good programs are that they are – informal; extend over time (up to 2 years in some cases); and involve active participation by supervisors/managers

Some companies, like Zappos, will pay people ($2,000) to leave after onboarding, so that only motivated workers stay.

7 Responses to “New Hire Practices”

  1. kaleem

    these are so cool – solutions to the generically bad experiences that i reckon many new starters go through. generally you’re left alone to find out what you can, after passively sitting through several death by powerpoint presentations about the company, culture and fire exits.
    two points:
    1.) i think your above suggestions require a reasonable level of formality (although they seem informal themselves) in getting them implemented. i think that organisations need to reflect on ‘who they are’ instead of worrying about corporate (and usually false) image. they can then provide a range of opportunities (as you show above) for people.
    2.) i don’t think any induction can be perfect, since we all have different needs (and mindsets when starting) that can’t be tailored to en-masse (although your coaching suggestions takes care of that to some degree). obviously depends also on what level you’re coming in at (induction vs. deduction).

    can think of lots of bad induction experiences, but only one or two good ones. one of the best starts i had was with a charity organisation. there were some prickly encounters , of course (i call them controllers), but it went something like:
    – I could choose the group to operate in
    – the group combined field work, and some theory – mostly reflective. so after each field session, we would ‘storm’ and think about our own performance and articulate next steps
    – the group leader (who was really coaching us individually too), allowed us to explore possibilities, make our own judgement and then guided us to decisions that worked within the organisation’s policy – these went wrong sometimes
    – allowed us a platform to talk about our experiences in a wider group setting

    If i could summarise a good onboarding philosophy, it might be: treat people like people, not products. I don’t mean that in a glib, marketing way, i mean that just being friendly and anticipating SOME needs of the newbie would go a heck of a long way.

  2. Nigel

    Harold, we are currently developing an onboarding program which guides new hires through their first six months in 3 stages.

    1. Gain an understanding the organization using the business model canvas.

    2. Identify. where your role fits within the organization and how you really add value.

    3. Develop strategies to ensure you execute on achieving these value add opportunities.

    Happy to discuss further


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