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Onboarding Activities Spread Over Time

I’ve been working with a Belgian company recently to re-define their onboarding process. Faced with a regular influx of young starters, a bored team of “induction presenters” and a realisation that they can do much better, they are revamping their onboarding for the future. This short post simply outlines the activities we have considered  – it may give you some ideas. Nothing here is more expensive to implement than the previous processes. 

During recruitment

  • Recruiters explain the basic onboarding process and give potential starters a flyer about their first weeks in the company

Upon contract signature

  • First “handshake tour” of the office
  • Give branded “care package” handed-over
  • “Welcome video” from CEO waiting in email inbox
  • Access to internal Yammer network

Start minus 2-weeks

  • Assignment to starters: Introduce yourself on Yammer network
  • Information presentations (PPTs, Prezi, video) delivered  to starters with important information (compliance, processes)

Start minus 1-week

  • Onboarding agenda delivered (and Outlook calendar pre-populated)
  • Starters given a joiners company quiz to complete in their own time prior to day 1 – answers can be found in various online resources

Start minus 1-day

  • Courtesy phone-call from manager: “Everything OK for tomorrow?”

Day 1

  • First beautiful welcome in reception: We wait for you
  • Orienteering game in the office
  • Fire drill (do, not tell)
  • Short Q+A sessions in place of long classical presentations (you already got the information; now bring your questions)
  • Lunch with other new joiners (not manager)
  • Answers to quiz questions
  • Time at desk with one real job to achieve
  • Hand-over laptop, phone etc at the end of the day


Day “2” (or maybe 3…)

  • Manager gives first week focus: 3 priorities to be achieved
  • Lunch buddy or “parrain”
  • Courtesy call from IT helpdesk: “Everything OK?”
  • Colleagues start welcoming via Yammer network


End week 1

  • First status-update meeting with manager
  • Video presentation from CEO: “Company mission, vision and strategy”
  • Online satisfaction survey: “Week 1 onboarding”
  • Sweets for the weekend 🙂

End month 1

  • Meeting with recruiter: Compare notes on recruitment, function and onboarding
  • Manager sets performance targets for next 2-months
  • Meeting with other new starters: Starters present their job/projects to other starters
  • Workshop with other new starters: SWOT and company strategy
  • Online satisfaction survey: “Month 1 onboarding”
  • Networking event with other new joiners

End month 3

  • Knowledge (compliance) test regarding specific company processes
  • First formal performance evaluation meeting with HR
  • First formal performance evaluation meeting with manager
  • Online satisfaction survey: “Month 3 onboarding”

End trial period (6 months in Belgium)

  • Golden handshake from CEO
  • Letter sent home with good news
  • Discussion about career development and talent development processes in company
  • Party

There are many other things that could be done to make onboarding a success (gamify the whole thing??) and I’ll be going through the major principles behind success in future blog posts…

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Onboarding GenY: Breaking old habits to build new habits

Alexia Vernon kicks off her session by admitting that yes, she is a member of Generation Y. Don’t get upset. She also has some experience and she has a vision… Let’s see what it is.


Why is better onboarding so important? Why this talk? Aren’t we doing OK? According to Alexia Vernon, the first day of many young professionals joining a new job looks a lot like this:

  • Sit in reception and wait for a while unsure what to do
  • Go to HR and fill in all the paperwork
  • Boss walks in after 3 hours and says “Sorry. Crazy day for me. Joust keep yourself busy and I’ll see you tomorrow…”


Alexia asked us to imagine our own first day at work, first job. What was it like and what advice would you give to your boss?

At my table, I heard from:

  • A first-dayer at HP who was given a big book and told to “Read This”. She sat and read for hours.
  • Another person was left waiting in a corridor area for the morning because the facilities guys hadn’t made her pass-card yet
  • I actually remembered my first day at secondary school – I arrived in the wrong clothes!
  • …and my first job, when my boss WAS present and spent the whole day with me (awesome!)


According to Alexia Vernon, most people see the onboarding process as a simple collection of things designed to handle compliance, processes, facilities, training and development. What onboarding should be about is building habits. Habits that are in line with the company and the joiner.



With regard to GenY, onboarding processes are awesomely important because by the end of day 1, most GenYers will have decided if they will or will not stay with the company in the long-term. What is important for young professionals is not responsibilities and tasks. It’s not benefits and holiday-booking processes. What GenY joiners care about is fit-to-culture, purpose and company culture.

What does your onboarding process focus on?


Many of the non-GenYers might be inclined to think that they should therefore simply do the opposite of whatever they do at the moment. “GenY is just the opposite of everything I am.”

NO. Sitting with @innovativesarah , I was happy to again hear the idea of “NOT EITHER/OR but AND” Sarah told me its the “Zen Generation”. We need the middle ground…


What does Alexia Vernon suggest for a good day start? 10 top tips:

  • Focus on the big picture, not the minutia
  • Help them to dive in to things, to get started and productive – the rest will figure itself out later…
  • Help create autonomy. GenY wants to feel that they can take things into hand, move on and have impact.
  • Give a focus for the first week
  • Make it clear what success looks like in their job
  • Give them tools to find what they need themselves
  • Make sure you give constructive feedback and what is and is not working – this will ensure that the habits they WILL create in the first 90days are the right ones
  • Ask about , care about and do something with the opinion and input of new joiners
  • Be sure to stretch them …just a little out of their comfort zone …to keep them in flow
  • Help them to learn how to communicate well in the workplace *

* note from DAN: Watch this space for a future guest-post-interview with Steve Gavatorta on how GenY needs to communicate better


…oh yeh, and one other thing:
Proactively answer all questions about lunch 🙂


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The Goal of Onboarding

Yesterday I had the pleasure of running the 3rd Learning+Development Round-Table. This event brings together a small number of highly motivated Learning+Development Managers from big-name organisations in Belgium. *


Following an excellent highly interactive presentation from Gosse Corstiaensen of KPMG Belgium, we spent a moment carefully defining the goals of corporate onboarding.


According to the team, if you are setting up onboarding processes for your company, these should be your goals:

  • Create alignment to task, mission, culture/values, processes
  • Make people self-sufficient to get the quickly productive
  • Get people connected
  • Create employe satisfaction
  • Create retention especially of the best people
  • Create commitment/engagement/motivation
  • Create brand champions with the right employee behaviour
  • Build a good image of your company so that even if the above fails, they still believe



@Gosse_C introduced us to the 4Cs of onboarding and then we spoke about many different ways to achieve the above-mentioned goals. Here I have added a few that I retained, plus some additional references…

  • 2 different strategic approaches to onboarding (picture)
  • Onboarding should be fun, extended and include managers (external blog post)
  • For young graduates and 1st-time employees, include a video “fail” to acquaint them with what bad onboarding looks like – this will help them to raise onboarding-fail-flags earlier
  • Create a psychological contract with new joiners
  • Use a buddy system
  • Create values-learning with game-playing (rather than speech and presentation)
  • Create an onboarding-portal (intranet) with processes, info etc – this should be created and presentation from the user-experience point-of-view
  • Include a feedback-loop early in the process – best practices include regular phone-calls from the employees recruiter to see how things are going


Hope this helps!

*If you would like to join the L+D Round-Table next time, email me for more details


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