A new hire's onboarding experience sets the tone for the rest of the time they’re with the organization. To help employees adapt to their new work environment, organizations invest time and resources into building structured onboarding programs. These programs assist new employees with understanding their role, learning new systems, and developing relationships with team members. With a successful system in place, employees feel more connected to their new opportunity and to their new company.
A company only gets one chance to make a great first impression.
Inc. reported that, with one email, Google was able to raise new employee productivity by an impressive 25%.
In his book, Work Rules: Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, Google's former SVP of People Laszlo Bock outlined an internal pilot project to determine the most effective way to increase the productivity of their Nooglers (or new Google employees).
The experiment included an email sent to managers the day before their new employee’s first day at work. To prepare managers for facilitating the orientation process, the email included the following checklist:
- Have a role-and-responsibilities discussion.
- Match your new employee with a peer buddy.
- Help your new employee build a social network.
- Set up onboarding check-ins once a month for your new employee's first six months.
- Encourage open dialogue.
This checklist of five tasks is simple and self-explanatory, emphasizing the importance of defining one’s role, connecting with one’s coworkers, scheduling check-ins, and encouraging discussion—and the results speak for themselves.
After the completion of the program, Google saw a 25% jump in productivity from their new hires. This outcome showed that both managers and their new reports saw value in a list that highlights the most important aspects of the onboarding experience.
Bock credits the effectiveness of Google’s onboarding email experiment to the following factors:
- The onboarding process is not over-engineered and thus avoids overwhelming the managers. Rather than adding in every detail to the onboarding plan and making it overly complicated, the best approach is to condense steps down to the most crucial tasks required to fulfill the goal of enhancing new employee productivity. Bock found that by “focusing on reducing the time-to-productivity, every other stat benefited. This includes engagement, satisfaction, and employee contributions".
- Everything goes back to supporting the primary goal of the onboarding program, which is to help managers develop better relationships with their employees. Focus on setting the foundation, prioritizing the "must-haves" over the "nice-to-haves", and assigning just the core components for your managers to carry out in this orientation process with new hires. This allows your management the freedom to innovate and customize their programs to better fit their new employees.
- Managers are sent reminders and suggestions to ensure that they stay on track with the onboarding plan. Managers will then see improvement in the proactive participation and completion rates of everyone involved in the employee onboarding process.
The results of Google’s onboarding initiative can be easily replicated. It is integral for leadership to provide support to management to help them effectively lead their new hires on their first day. By improving the efficiency of the orientation process with a checklist, managers will have more time to focus on ensuring their new employees are up and running in their new role from day 1.