Beginnings are always important, and when it comes to starting a new job, the tools and support one receives at the very beginning are vital. That’s why we consider onboarding to be one of the crucial stages of the employee’s journey—maybe even the most important one. The way an employee is introduced to the company influences their future engagement and effectiveness. Still, it is a subject that hasn’t been thoroughly developed by many organizations. At Apptension, we treat it as a process that can’t be underestimated. Quite the opposite—there’s always room for improvement.

Employee onboarding: from a job interview to the first performance review

It’s crucial to remember that the onboarding process starts at the recruitment stage since it’s one’s first contact with the organization, its culture, and people.  What we try to do is to provide the potential employee with comprehensive information about the company and the team during the interview, as it’s the way to help them decide whether they want to join us. 

After a successful recruitment process, we arrange the signing of a contract and start the preonboarding process. During that period, an employee can choose the benefits they’re interested in. They also receive their first-day agenda, with details about their future buddy and mentor, as well as some practical tips about the office. This way, the employee feels more prepared for an often stressful event of starting a new job.

The first day at Apptension is quite a big day, and we try to make sure that the new employee feels taken care of. In the morning, we organize a meeting with the HR team, where we discuss the organization’s mission, vision, and strategy. There’s a whole group of people engaged in the onboarding process in our organization. Members of the HR, Office, IT, and Sales teams are responsible for introducing the new employee to the different fields of the company’s life. Besides getting to know some formal rules and guidelines in our work life, the new employee has a chance to see the whole office and meet other Apptensians, including their new manager and a buddy. It may feel quite intense, and that’s why we also plan all those smaller, non-formal things: there’s a welcome pack, a mini-photo session, a welcome message on our internal channel on Slack, a lunch with a buddy and always some time for the employee to check out our Confluence onboarding guide on their own.

It’s difficult to close the onboarding process within a rigid time frame. We assume that an employee may need from 6 months up to a year to truly feel they belong in a team. That being said, we find the first 3 months to be the most important and that’s why we plan most of the onboarding activities for that period. 

During the first week, the new employee is introduced to the team and has 1:1 meetings with their manager, buddy, and mentor. Those meetings help us make sure that they receive all the help they need to perform their new duties. At Apptension, we consider it vital that the new employee is immediately introduced to the project they will be a part of. The first week or two serve, of course, as an introduction, but we want the new employee to feel like a part of a given project from the very beginning. We also find it important for them to have a chance to participate and observe the everyday work, rather than have some more general introduction to the projects.

Everyone needs an onboarding buddy

As much as working in projects is a significant part of Apptension’s life, one of the biggest onboarding challenges lies elsewhereit’s explaining to the employee all the unwritten rules of the organization. To properly introduce this part of the company’s culture and make sure that the new employee truly gets us and how we work, we’ve introduced the role of a buddy. Along with a mentor and a manager, it’s a person who assists the new employee during their first intense period at the company. As an additional form of support, we use certain tools such as e.g., the Donut bot. It sends useful info, reminders but also surveys that help us assess how the new employee feels and react in case they experience any troubles. 

After the first 2 months, we launch our feedback process, in which the new employee asks a few people they frequently work with to share their thoughts and opinions. The employee receives feedback from the manager and has a chance to acknowledge the accomplishments, but also the fields that can still be worked on and improved. This first onboarding stage ends up with a meeting with the manager and HR, to sum it up and discuss the future steps at Apptension.

Remote onboarding - how did we adapt our process?

Lately, we’ve been forced to move our whole onboarding process online, and that certainly has been a challenge. We’ve decided to meet it with an intensified communication and more detailed surveys, to make sure that new Apptensians feel supported and guided during the whole process, despite the physical distance. According to the feedback we’ve received from them, we can proudly say that we’ve managed to properly introduce them to Apptension! 

This, however, doesn’t put an end to our work. We treat onboarding as a process that can always be improved, and the opinions and perspectives employees share with us are crucial. It’s not about revolution, though—it’s often the little details that we wouldn’t notice ourselves, but they still make the new employee’s journey significantly better.