Reinventing Onboarding: A New Approach to an Old Routine

Sometimes there’s comfort in the familiar. We rely on the “tried and true” way of doing things. In the workplace, that kind of dependable consistency often continues for years. And maybe it works — well enough.

But sometimes, the things we take for granted deserve a shake-up.

At Indeed, we are constantly trying to innovate by rethinking old strategies. From engineering to sales to client success and beyond, we challenge every individual in our organization to evaluate what’s working and improve what’s not.

So when it comes to onboarding new hires, we recently started testing a concept we call “impact onboarding.” The basic idea is simple: rather than spend days passively reading policies and attending training sessions, employees are empowered to start contributing to the company immediately. So how does it work?

What if new employees could start contributing on day one?

When companies hire new people, they anticipate a ramp-up period. But we hire people because they’re smart and they’ve shown potential. Not only that, new hires want opportunities to prove themselves early on — so it makes sense for us as employers to find ways to make this possible for them.

Impact onboarding flips the traditional, passive model by providing new employees with opportunities to start giving their best on day one. We want to communicate to new hires that we trust them and hired them for their intellect. And that, in turn, gives them the confidence to be more productive and confident, allowing them to contribute to Indeed faster.

So we’re asking these questions: What can new employees do to improve Indeed or support job seekers or employers in their first week? How can we harness their new-job enthusiasm and fresh perspectives while immersing them in the company culture at the same time?

The act of answering these questions acclimates new hires by facilitating collaboration with other new employees who are in different departments. It helps them build cross-functional relationships and learn company culture in a low-stakes way — relationships that continue after the week of onboarding is over.

How it works

Recently, we tried this new method on seven new hires in engineering, marketing and search quality. The week is rooted in play, so new hires feel empowered to explore themselves and Indeed, as well as to be creative and fun, all while operating under some constraints. We worked with an innovative boutique consulting firm called PlayWell whose mission is to make work more playful. They helped us develop the game-like structure for this pilot.

We split the group into two teams on Monday, and we gave each the theme “Happiness at Work.” Their job was to come up with a project, test and tweak it, and then present it to managers and colleagues on Friday afternoon.

Each group received these guidelines:

  • Come up with a winning idea, build a prototype and then test within one week.
  • Collect outside feedback and make adjustments, or scrap the idea and do something else.
  • Don’t worry about failing, because there’s merit in understanding data to know…

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