Once an employee is hired, our job isn’t over. In fact, it’s just begun. Especially when there are surveys out there that say 84 percent of employees plan to look for a new job this year, we have to make sure all of these new hires feel welcome and are successful.
As we become a more mobile workforce, it’s essential to think of orientation and onboarding as more than just a single event that takes place on an employee’s first day. We have to retool our thinking to help employees become a productive member of the team, and technology is an important factor.
Here are five ways that companies are using technology and social media to benefit new hires.
1. Create a virtual bulletin board for the community
The first thing any new hire is looking for is information. Lullabot, one of the world’s top open Web development, strategy and training organizations, has developed a special process to fill the information gap. Esther Lee, human resource manager, explains the technology resource they’ve created for employees. “We've set up an internal site called the Daily Report where we post ‘Welcome’ greetings for each new employee, and other employees can add welcoming comments. The Daily Report is also where we post birthday announcements, weekly games (often based around getting employees to know each other better), travel tips (for those doing training or attending conferences), as well as other HR-related information on benefits, vacation, etc. It's a go-to resource for new employees as well as those who have been with us for years.”
Lee added that Lullabot’s culture encourages its virtual workforce to get to know each other via resources like The Daily Report, but also use it for collaborating and finding better technology solutions. "We're pretty efficient at testing different things and determining what works for us and what doesn't. Basically, individually, if we see something we like, we try it. And if it rocks, we will try it as a team. And if we love it, we will keep it as a company practice," Lee says.
2. Train your employees with multimedia
Jake Sigal, founder and CEO of Livio Radio, a company that manufactures simple devices and software to help get Internet radio like Pandora, NPR and Grooveshark into the home and car, creates video vignettes and saves them for when new hires come onboard.
“Anytime part of our crew is learning how to do something new, we take a screen video that captures audio from Skype or the phone with our questions/answers, save it and add it to the shared drive under the appropriate folder. When someone new comes onboard, it's amazing how much faster they can learn something by watching a one to three minute video, without taking someone else off a project to teach them. Additionally, when interns leave to go back to school, they make videos to show best practices and send to their supervisors before leaving.”
Another company using video in a big way for training is WaterFilters.net, a superstore stocking hundreds of thousands of water filtration systems and replacement cartridges. In keeping with its commitment to environmental sustainability, it operates in a 98 percent paperless format. Karl Rist, content marketing specialist, explains what that means for the company: “Our corporate trainer utilizes a large flat-screen monitor to teach new associates the 'ins and outs' of the company's order-processing software used for placing, tracking and shipping orders. Every new associate is issued a laptop to follow along, and to place 'practice orders' of their own. When the trainees move out into the warehouse for additional product training, they bring their laptops with them in a wireless environment to look up different filter specs on the website while further examining them on the shelves.”
3. Make employees more productive with communication and collaboration tech
Shortly after coming onboard, employees start learning the daily workflow. Then, it’s time to share with them the tools they need to be a contributor to the team. Stella Fayman, marketing ninja for FeeFighters, a credit card processing marketplace and gateway, says that her company looks to solve problems with technology. “The extent to which we use technology is usually a bit surprising to new hires, but they get used to it quickly. Using 37Signals project management tools like Basecamp and company chat tool Campfire just makes communication and organization much easier. There is usually a bit of a learning curve, but these tools are made with the user in mind, so they end up saving time and effort.”
FINE Design Group, a digital branding agency that creates, designs, builds and manages the touchpoints that connect brands with people in the digital space, also leverages technology to keep employees productive. Josh Kelly, managing partner at FINE, says “The primary vehicle they use is their internal custom wiki (built on PBWorks) which houses everything from company policies and org charts to impromptu lists of best lunch spots and nicknames. This grew organically from the need to point people to documents and info on policies, and ‘at a glance’ info, but became more focused on culture over time. It's had the effect of cutting down on mass internal e-mail chains dedicated to novelty ideas, and is a robust way to generate lists of resources of all kinds.”
4. Use software to show employees how they fit into the big picture
Nick Bauder, customer service manager at Nerds On Call, a company offering on-site computer and electronic repair services to businesses and consumers, shares how communication was key in the employee and company’s success. "NERDS created an open policy to allow staff members to see what everyone else in the company was doing. Anyone can sit down at a workstation and get a feel for how the company is doing—in real time—through our self-designed database. NERDS have a ‘scoreboard’ running that shows how many appointments have been booked, which location they were booked for and whether or not the customer was a return customer or a new customer. We started this process in 2007, and NERDS still uses it today to help employees and employer keep going strong.”
Bauder adds that NERDS found a way to extend its communication strategy to field technicians. “A field technician leads a busy work life, often spending much of his time in the car driving from appointment to appointment, and when our locations are spread as far apart as they are, it tends to be a solitary employee existence. We have a Facebook group that has allowed us to create a community among our employees. It affords us the ability to celebrate achievements, birthdays, weddings and company anniversaries, in addition to providing a forum for company-wide communication. It is even used as a basic training tool for technicians—if a technician runs into a new virus or computer issue, they can use this forum to tell others how they solved the problem or learn from others.”
5. Capitalize on social and gamification to make work fun
Lawrence Coburn, CEO and founder of DoubleDutch, a builder of mobile productivity apps for enterprises, was able to use the company's knowledge of an app suite to create something fun for their employees. “Our HYVE application is designed to boost employee productivity and collaboration. It uses geo-location, social, gaming and analytics features to allow employees to ‘check in’ to projects, customers and locations in one interface. This knowledge allows our employees to celebrate achievements around customers and projects.
Coburn says the employees love the app so much that they decided to make it public—you can download it for free. “It helps employees understand how they fit in the company and what everybody's roles are. It's a natural way to quickly immerse new hires into the company culture from day one. They quickly see that victories at work, no matter how small, are valued and should be shared with the team on HYVE.”
It's all about culture
No matter what kind of company you run or work for, successfully onboarding new hires is important to your business and helps to shape and grow the corporate culture. Employees will always need resources and require training, and they want to be productive and look at the big picture. Lastly, they absolutely love to have fun. Therefore, it's the HR department's role to create a company culture that supports these things.