Sitting in an office 33 floors above Broad Street, in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District, is Janice Hamilton, founder and president of CarrottNewYork, an education marketing firm. The company is successful at its core competency: designing outreach programs for schools. What it hadn’t been very good at until lately is onboarding.
“It wasn’t until about 10 years ago when I really started thinking about perfecting my onboarding process,” says Hamilton, adding that she founded the company in 1980. “Our lack of a process grabbed my attention when we were really busy, threw a new person in and received a little frustration.”
Wanting to take frustration permanently out of the hiring process, Hamilton quickly made changes and today she is proud of her onboarding program. Even before an employee’s first day, she sends the new hire paperwork, which includes confidentiality and non-compete agreements. Small details are also included, such as attire requirements (“Men worry about clothes much more than women, it seems,” she notes.), elevator access codes and expected office hours.
The First Three Days
Hamilton exhibits her interest in each employee’s success by making sure to have the person’s desk, computer and phone ready to go on their first day. In addition, the new employee is met with a coffee mug custom monogrammed with her initials and a welcome sign above her desk. “It shows that we are interested in newly hired employees as individuals,” she says. “We always get really positive feedback about it.”
After the employee has had a chance to settle in, Hamilton has her attend one-on-one meetings with team members. Over the course of three days, each existing staffer explains their job duties and their connection to the new hire’s responsibilities.
Out-of-office lunches are an important part of the onboarding process at CarrotNewYork, as well. In the first few days, a new hire goes to lunch with the CEO and a senior team member, a supervisor and a direct report and a number of peers. “Occasionally we will also have a staff pizza lunch, too,” she adds.
From there, Hamilton outlines a schedule of check-in meetings spanning over the next three months. Hamilton says her onboarding process is an integral part of the success of her company because it helps with productivity and staff retention.
“Employees become part of the team much quicker than if you just threw them in,” she says. “You can’t take someone and plop them into a job and expect them to perform to the fullest. That is why onboarding is so important.”