The first weeks at a company have an outsized impact on how new hires feel about the organization. Find out why our onboarding process is always transforming.
Starting in a new company often involves a flux of expectations and anxiety. The onboarding process aims to create a safe environment for aligning the expectations and alleviating the anxiety by explicitly talking about the organization’s values. By definition, onboarding is a set of strategies across departments to welcome and integrate the new members by introducing our work environment, different departments, and exploring our culture.
Because we believe the onboarding period constructs the foundation of the journey ahead, we consider it one of the most important moments in all newcomers. It is also when we, as the People Experience team, get to show one of Wildlife’s values, “We care for each other”, which is essential for their arrival. Our priority is for people to feel very well taken care of every moment, in every interaction. Our goal with onboarding is to provide the most incredible experience from their very first steps at Wildlife!
THE FIRST DAYS
The onboarding process begins when the person accepts the job offer. From that moment on, several teams get in touch with the new Wilder. One of these teams is People Experience (PXP), which is the team I’m a part of.
Our goal is to ensure that the new Wilders have all the information, tools, and resources necessary to work, as well as to help them adapt to the company’s culture. We send them content on mobile games and our market to give them a context of our business. We have learned that even gamers have learned something new through the materials sent.
On Day 1, members of the PXP welcome them personally (except for now, during times of pandemic).
Our face-to-face onboarding is structured as follows:
1. We have a meeting over breakfast: It’s a time where we get to briefly introduce ourselves, and talk a little about the history of the company and our values.
2. Then we take a tour of the different floors: It’s a great opportunity to explore our work environment and departments.
3. We talk about how we do things here: We share information about our company-wide processes and tools.
4. Wilders bringing Wilders: We introduce the company’s referral program.
5. First Week Challenge: We offer a series of challenges that the Wilders are encouraged to perform during their first week.
5. Feedback: At the end of the first week, we send a feedback form, so we can get their impressions. The feedback is turned into action to continue developing our onboarding program.
ONBOARDING IN TIMES OF SOCIAL DISTANCING
Though social distancing measures and work from home are preventing us from having in-person meetings and making discoveries through our halls, new Wilders have been starting at Wildlife every week.
Ensuring that the new Wilders that arrive in times of social isolation feel like they belong from get-go is a challenge. Nevertheless, we have created action plans to quickly transform the onboarding process, which until the start of the work from home period was positively rated overall. We gathered testimonials from some of the new Wilders who participated in the virtual experience to tell us more about the experience and motivate more people internally to get involved with the process in the video below:
Our goal during these times is to, despite the distance, convey our warmth and welcome with the same intensity as we would in-person. Tailored to the social distancing and stay-at-home orders, we created additional communication channels and adapted our onboarding sessions into video conference presentations.
Currently, we cover all history and culture related topics in one day. However, we are working on a broader process that will cover the topics with more depth through the period of a week. Through the feedback and insights received, we identified the need to space out the contents discussed and the importance of creating more opportunities to interact with the new hires; the goal is to make them feel welcomed and certainly not overwhelmed by the quantity of information shared.
Our remote onboarding includes:
1. Equipment and tools: we send the computer and other necessary tools according to their role at Wildlife. Our Tech Services team has a default set of devices and accesses new hires need for the wide variety of professionals, from Art to Engineering.
2. Virtual Welcome Kit: we provide our virtual welcome kit for the new hires via email, with a warm welcome video, WhatsApp stickers, Zoom Backgrounds, and other fun activities for their first week.
3. Getting to know our culture: in our first meeting, we take the time to do introductions and spend the rest of the time presenting the company culture and values.
4. Benefits: we explain details regarding payments, benefits, and all assistances provided by Wildlife.
5. Stand-Up: we invite new Wilders to join our Monday company-wide weekly meeting with company leaders.
6. Channel for support: we create a channel on Slack with everyone arriving on the same day, so they can get to know each other and send any questions they might have.
7. Wrap up: we end the first day with a presentation of our referral program and the onboarding feedback form.
HOW WE DESIGNED THE ONBOARDING PROCESS
Our onboarding process at Wildlife started to gain more structure when the People Experience team was put in place in early 2019. Improving this process was my first task. From our research, we learned that various aspects of onboarding have an impact on new hires’ long-term happiness and can even determine how long they stay at a company.
I read studies, watched videos, and participated in webinars to seek as much knowledge as possible on the subject and also see what other companies were doing. Based on the research we did, we developed an onboarding process that aims to effectively convey the pillars of safety, well-being, belonging, and purpose which we learned are essential for an effective teamwork environment.
FIRST WEEK CHALLENGE
The idea behind the Challenge is to gamify the experience of discovering the company and have new hires step out of their comfort zones. When we created this Challenge, the only way they could finish it was by moving around the company and interacting with people from numerous departments.
This is how it works: the new Wilders have a week to complete a list of ten challenges. Some examples that we have used in the past are:figuring out the name of Data Engineering’s alpaca (no, we won’t tell you here, because you might be a new Wilder from the area and will have to find out for yourself!), meet three people from different departments, have lunch with your manager,, and play Tennis Clash (one of our games).
From time to time and based on the feedback we receive, we always update the proposed challenges – as we do with all onboarding activities.
The Challenge is an important part of our onboarding process and we intend to continue with it virtually for as long as social isolation is in place.
WHY TALKING ABOUT OUR VALUES MATTER
Our company values are the essence of what (or who) Wildlife is. One of my favorite Challenges asks the new hires to write down a Wildlife value they have observed. The idea is that, over the first week, the new Wilders will actively think about our values and write down a time when we demonstrated them.
The more we can put our values into actions, which involve caring for each other, being committed, and thinking big, the more I believe new hires will feel welcomed and help transform Wildlife into an even more incredible place to work. I’m lucky to say that I personally share those values in my daily life and which explains why talking about them is the part of the onboarding I most look forward to. When I tell the story of the company during the onboarding, I present the facts; but, when I talk about Wildlife’s values, I’m talking about my values as well: there is a connection between who I am and what I think.
WHAT’S STILL LEFT TO DO
With all the feedback we received since we implemented the new onboarding activities, I know we’ve built a process that works, especially in São Paulo. Today, our greatest difficulty is to put together an onboarding program that is scalable and meets Wildlife’s global growth demand.
In order to keep up and ensure an excellent onboarding experience in all our locations, we need to invest in our team’s growth. Now, we have more people dedicated to thinking about solutions to improve the new Wilders’ journey.
Wildlife’s rapid growth also calls for a more individualized attention to those who are coming in. One of our projects is to implement a buddy program company-wide. The buddies are selected to help new hires adapt to the company routine and culture. They will be responsible for explaining how company resources work, giving tips about restaurants around the office, introducing people, and making this start at Wildlife easier.
Another initiative we have is to automate operational processes of the teams involved with onboarding. The automations would help optimize their work and improve the use of our resources as well as the new employees’ experience. They will also allow us to have more time in the future to create more unique experiences that make Wildlife onboarding an unforgettable one.