Going the extra mile when you’re onboarding

Building on my last piece and in particular my comments on the importance of adding a personal touch to your onboarding, I thought it best to provide some real-life ideas to get you inspired.

Below are 10 fun and creative examples of companies that have gone the extra mile to make sure their new starters feel valued, part of the team and generally pumped to start working. From trips abroad and breakfast with the CEO, to a silly hat and a scavenger hunt, the below examples demonstrate that regardless of your budget, its possible to create a memorable and fun onboarding process.

regardless of your budget, its possible to create a memorable and fun onboarding process

The extravagant

While some of these ideas are likely to be out of your budget, I recommend having a deep think about the feelings they are creating for employees and trying come up with your own ideas that will replicate that.

Soundcloud – A trip to the headquarters

A trip away is always a memorable experience and a great way to get your team interacting. With a bit more to spend than many of us audio hosting giants SoundCloud kick start their onboarding in style by flying each of their new hires out to their headquarters in Berlin. An experience sure to make anyone jealous of Soundcloud employees the trip is a perfect way for new starters to learn all about Soundcloud’s company culture.

Twitter – Swag bag and Breakfast with the CEO

Also aiming to create a special start for their new employees, Twitter provide a branded gift bag complete with a bottle of wine, T-shirt, Laptop sleeve and notebook. However, it’s their introductory breakfast with CEO Dick Costolo and group lunch with their team (complete with cookies and champagne) that I believe to be the most standout part of their onboarding process, helping to make everyone within their camp feel like an integral part of the team.

Element ThreeWelcome kit

Welcome Threes custom packed starter box is a personal favourite of mine. Thoughtful and carefully designed, their box is a perfect mixture of fun, helpful, and personal – sure to help new starters feel valued and fit right in. Their box includes a water bottle to keep employees hydrated, a map of the office, parking tips, a list of local restaurants and a personalised message from the president.

Perhaps most stand out of all though is their four-week on-boarding checklist full with tasks fun and serious to help get them settled into their new company environment and values. This is complete with a mentor responsible for helping them through the onboarding period. Good job guys!

Creative and affordable

These cheap and cheerful ideas demonstrate that even if you have a small budget, it’s possible to create a memorable way to welcome new employees to the team.

Perkbox handing out goodies

Is there a nicer job than handing out beers to colleagues on a Friday? Quite possibly not. That’s why the London (finally a UK based company) employee benefit scheme designers Perkbox have incorporated the task of dreams into their onboarding. An easy route to popularity in the office, this is a great way to get newbies interacting with your team. Considering your team are set to be particularly relaxed and high spirited there is also probably no better time to have your new employee introduce themselves. If Friday beers aren’t your thing, try and get them involved in another company tradition. Handing out tasty treats is great alternative.

Lever – Send them a welcome Gif

Recruitment software developers Lever came up with the unique and super fun idea of welcoming each of their new employees with a personalised Gif to be sent to their new starter before their arrival. By involving current employees in the process and the Gif itself they are able to demonstrate their team spirit, fun work environment and show how excited they are for the new candidate to join.

Google – Place them in the limelight

Despite their huge budget to spoil new starters rotten, it’s Google’s Noogle hat which stood out to me in their onboarding. As well as showing their playful side, and giving new employees something to show their friends the hat makes sure they stand out in the office. This gives all of their team the chance to welcome them to the team and give them a helping hand if needed.

Karmarama – Tell a funny story

Taking things a step further, London based advertising agency Karmarama have each of their newbies stand up and tell a funny story to their new coworkers. While this might seem a little harsh at first, there’s no doubt that it’s a great way to break the ice and keep the first day nice and light hearted. If you are going to do this, I’d recommend giving your new starter a heads up before the day. 

M&C Saatchi Mobile – Core values welcome box

While any gift is sure to please new employees, if you want to create a lasting impression and assimilate new starters to your brand it’s important to consider how your presents relate to your key principles. Fully recognising this M&C Saatchi Mobile has carefully chosen each of their items to reflect their seven core values. The box includes a camera tripod (fun), clay (original), grow-your-own-plant kit (persistence), multi-charger (diverse), playing cards (daring), customized map of local area (curious), and a glossary of mobile terms (straightforward).

Zazzle – Scavenger hunt

Another favourite of mine comes from Zazzle. Designed to encourage bonding and to help new employees familiarize themselves with the various departments they have set up an in-office scavenger hunt for new starters. Reliant on their colleagues to complete the hunt, the game is a fantastic way to get new employees interacting with their colleagues in a fun and friendly way. By covering all areas of their business including different departments it teaches new starters valuable lessons about their company and allows them to meet colleagues that they would be unlikely to engage with through a less interactive method.

Bonobos Apparel – “Two truths and a lie.”

My final example to get you inspired comes from clothing company Bonobos. They have set up a simple but effective game to introduce new employees to the rest of the team. The entire company are sent an email that includes a short biography and photograph of the new employee as well as three “facts”. The game? To determine “two truths and a lie.” from these facts. Incentivised by a $25 store credit the task encourages employees to talk to the new team member to figure out the lie.

Keep top talent

Whether you choose to replicate these examples or come up with your own, I hope that these ideas have left you with some inspiration for your onboarding process. Among the piles of paperwork, lessons and introductions these fun and creative ideas are what will stick in the memories of your employees for years to come, and are what can make the difference if you want to keep top talent within your company.

There is unfortunately a huge lack of UK based companies adopting these onboarding techniques (or at least sharing them) compared to the US. I’m hopeful this will change, so if you’ve been inspired or already have a weird and wonderful onboarding step you’d like to share, please do let me know in the comments.


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