Over the past two years, HR professionals and internal communicators have increased their focus on employee experience, taking a more joined-up and strategic view of the collective experience employees have from the time they join an organisation to the time they leave.
One area of employee experience that many teams are focusing on is employee onboarding - the experience a person has when they first join a company. Onboarding can span from the time employees accept an offer, through to their first day at work and into their first three months or so; some companies have official onboarding programmes that last even longer than three months.
The role of digital channels in onboarding
When a person first joins a company, it can be an overwhelming experience; there are usually a lot of administrative tasks to carry out, and people need to get up to speed quickly with skills, knowledge and processes as well as having the time to meet their colleagues. Onboarding programmes provide some structure to these activities. Digital channels, intranets and apps like Twine play a very significant role in supporting onboarding programmes; they are even more essential when onboarding employees who are working remotely. One of our clients uses Twine as the main engine for their onboarding programme, and has seen the decision result in a wide range of real-world benefits.
Let’s explore in more detail how an employee communication tool like Twine can support employee onboarding.
A hub for new starters
A great approach to support onboarding is to provide an information hub or “one stop shop” for new starters where they can access all the resources they need for a smooth joining experience. In Twine this could be a team page, a folder in the “knowledge” area or even a whole site, and could include:
· Assets from onboarding sessions
· Central policies
· Learning resources and toolkits
· Welcome messages from senior management
· Links back to company information across your intranet or communication channels
· And some of the other features mentioned below!
Tasks, checklists and calendars
Employee communication tools provide real value by establishing “one source of truth” on what new starters need to do when they join, with checklists detailing all the specific tasks that need to be completed alongside all the necessary deadlines. These can really help a joiner keep on top of what they need to do across their first few months, as well as letting them know what’s ahead. Checklists can also include details and relevant links to any training that needs to be undertaken and by what time.
Here, different features can support lists of tasks. For example, on Twine, you can assign particular tasks to specific people and even create an onboarding checklist as a widget to appear on the main dashboard. You can also edit new joiners’ calendars to include details of events they need to attend and the dates of key milestones.
Forms for information
Embedding digital forms into your employee communication channels can be an excellent way to collect required information to support joining processes. For example, getting new starters set up on different systems or going through any information-gathering required for health and safety processes can all be supported through the right forms and workflow. Within Twine, it’s easy to create forms and customise them to your needs, facilitated by the ability to restrict these to particular users.
There is likely to be some required reading for new starters, covering particular policies and procedures. Using digital channels to track mandatory reading is helpful for new employees as well as HR administrators and team managers. For example, on Twine, there is a personalised mandatory read feature where employees can view what they have to look at, and confirm when they have read particular documents. Because managers or HR functions can track individual progress, this can prove to be an extremely useful feature for onboarding programmes.
A group or community for new hires
Creating a group, community or discussion area for new hires is an excellent way to engage people joining your company. This community means new joiners can support each other, and also helps drive early connections and networking. If the right people from support functions are part of the new hire community, it allows new hires to ask specialists the necessary questions, such as from HR and IT.
Within Twine, it is possible to create a discussion forum entirely dedicated to new starters where they can ask questions and get answers from whoever is moderating the forum, such as an HR manager.
Polls and surveys
Using polls or surveys with your new hires can ensure you get valuable data and insights into how employees are feeling, the challenges they are facing and what they think of the onboarding programme. You can also use forms (as mentioned above) to gather feedback. This kind of information can be like gold dust, providing insights so you can continuously improve your onboarding experience. Polls and surveys have consistently proved to be a popular feature with Twine clients and their users.
Employee profiles provide a great way for new hires to share information about themselves and ensure their new colleagues get to know the person behind the job title. People profiles also give new hires a fuller picture of their team colleagues.
In Twine, there is a strong people directory that allows new hires to search for colleagues based on different search categories such as office, role, department and skills. This means a new joiner can discover things they have in common with people, showcase their skills and use the directory to network. Ensuring a new employee completes their profile in their first week should always be part of an onboarding process.
Employee communication channels also help deliver welcome communications for new starters. For the starters themselves, this could include a welcome video from the CEO, while for the wider employee base, a news item can introduce who is joining the company, thus driving awareness about a new starter and even allowing people to add welcome messages in the comments.
In Twine, there is a feature that allows you to create a welcome message that pops up when a user first signs in to the platform. One of our clients used this feature to support onboarding by including a video that pops up with information about the company and its values, goals and more!
Access before day one
Depending on the way your digital channels are set up and your identity management policies, it might be possible to provide access to digital channels before a person starts on their first day. This is straightforward with a cloud-based solution like Twine. Giving access to an onboarding environment before day one allows a joiner to complete pre-first day tasks, helps support teams get that person set up smoothly for the day they join and allows a person to better prepare for their first day in the job.
The employee onboarding experience is very important, and a tool like Twine can make a real difference. Why not arrange a free trial to see how it can help improve the experience of your new hires?
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