Onboarding New Team Members into Databox Culture

People & Culture Sep 14 9 minutes read

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    The fact that company culture matters has become even more visible during the “Great Resignation” movement that followed the 2020 pandemic. Increased fluctuation and rapid job switching showed us that people, especially the young generation of job seekers, care about more than just great perks and compensation. It’s a fact that when switching careers, millennials seek equity, transparency, flexibility, and, more so, purpose. All of which would support the idea that the company culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage.  

    People are more likely to become invested in a company’s success if they feel aligned with the mission and values and understand how their actions will make an impact. And that starts by understanding the culture. But if we truly want our new team members to embody the company’s mission and values, we must show them what that looks like; by weaving our corporate culture into every activity – from the start of the hiring process throughout the onboarding.

    How Culture and Values Fit Into the Onboarding Experience

    At Databox, we have always received great feedback from new team members, especially on the quality of the training. This part of the process is truly a well-oiled machine structured to a T. Every individual has an opportunity to dive deep into developing role-specific skills, earn certificates, and learn from an extensive knowledge base our specialists have built for almost a decade. But at the same time, the mentioned training elements are specific to the division, sometimes even teams. So naturally, not every new hire has the same onboarding experience in this sense. But what connects and drives the onboarding process – the skills and competencies we encourage our people to develop, the way we run the operations, communicate as a team, work, and share knowledge, are the values—an integral part of the company culture: the product and the driving stick of the onboarding process.

    Culture is the aspect of onboarding that companies often neglect, resulting in the misalignment of expectations (on both sides) that can affect new hires feeling out of place and unengaged in the company. And this was the aspect we hadn’t fully utilised nor standardised up to a point. 

    With the 100% growth of our team in 2021 and a lot of our Playmakers stepping into new shoes and becoming managers for the first time, we have felt it’s good timing to revisit our approach. Our goal was targeted; to address the perspective of onboarding new employees into our company culture and standardise the process that will give every new Playmaker the same experience.

    Defining the goals of onboarding into corporate culture

    Given our team’s responses via our quarterly eNPS survey, we knew we had a strong culture that goes way back to the company’s beginnings and the initial team. But the rapid growth in the previous year confronted us with the question of maintaining it on such a high level and preserving all the wonderful things that made Databox what it is.

    Especially in the context of: 

    • Keeping our values front and centre even with the increased pace of hiring
    • Fostering employee engagement daily
    • Maintaining high employee retention in the future
    • Setting clear expectations on both sides from the start

    eNPS is a quarterly survey we use to measure how likely our Playmakers are to recommend Databox as a good place to work and what may be detracting from the employee experience. It’s based on an effective, easy-to-implement scoring system – the Employee Net Promoter Score that measures their satisfaction based on one simple question on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the least likely to recommend your company and 10 being the most likely.

    We knew we couldn’t expect new members to be in step with our unique culture from day one. To get them involved quicker, we need to put in the effort. To do that, we thought about our goals first. 

    The main goal is to successfully onboard them in their roles and our company culture. Inspired by the SHRM’s elements of a successful onboarding experience, we highlighted four areas of focus we refer to when we reflect on the success of the process: self-confidence, role clarity, social integration, and knowledge of culture.

    Our goal after 90 days of onboarding is a full-functioning, engaged, empowered, and inspired Databox Playmaker who wholly understands how we operate, communicate, and play as a team, who is clear about their role and responsibilities and is autonomous in performing their work and feel supported by their manager and the team.

    The onboarding of new Databox Playmakers starts before day 1.

    The Databox onboarding process begins way before the start day (to get administrative tasks out of the way) and lasts way longer than the initial orientation on the new hire’s first day. 

    We have divided the timeline into three parts: Preboarding, Orientation Day, and the 90-day Onboarding period.

    Keeping the connection during the pre-boarding period

    The time before the start date is when our future team members are particularly vulnerable – they have recently resigned from their previous job and are waiting to start their new roles at Databox, which is why they need a positive connection with us. From the psychological aspect, this is the best time to let them know we’re eager to welcome them to the team, catch up and offer support in this transition phase.

    We’ve set up a list of activities to help us keep in touch with them after they quit their current job. Those activities are mainly driven by the People Operations Manager, the future manager and the Training Specialist – such as a formal welcome message, the team welcome card, a brief catch-up with the manager, and detailed instructions about the next steps delivered before the start day.

    A well-rounded orientation and a look forward

    Our new hires’ first day (a.k.a the “start day”) is dedicated to the company and department orientation. In the company orientation session, our People Operations Manager takes new team members through a complete overview of the company, our ambitions, values, teams, tools, general policies, and administrative processes. 

    Because the first day can be overwhelming, especially with so much new information, we have a structured company orientation slide deck that includes all the essential knowledge and links. It represents something new team members can keep coming back to, especially in the first weeks.

    After the general orientation, new team members proceed to their department orientation and training schedule overview with the Training Specialist.

    Besides the official orientation, we announce new Playmakers in our #living-room Slack channel for the entire team to welcome them and ask them to write up a short presentation blog, so we can get to know them better – where they come from, their hobbies and interests.

    90-day onboarding period 

    One meaningful way to cultivate culture is to start from the beginning. Helping our new team members understand company culture will help them fit in more quicker. 

    In this aspect, we have introduced functional presentation meetings where they get an overview of the company, the teams, key roles, and how each contributes to common goals, monthly 1:1 interviews with the team manager and a member of our People team, dedicated to discussion about general well-being, culture, and onboarding process, and getting support from a Buddy, almost a “work best friend,” who helps them address more informal questions.

    During these 90 days, we put focus on role modelling and encouraging competencies that reflect our values, provide as much detail and context about the company mission, vision, and values, and focus on emphasizing the importance of soft skills, running introductions and collaborative spirit, and generally making sure they feel a part of the team. To monitor how (and if) this process works, our managers and the People team do a monthly buzz check (1-1 meetings) to understand how new hires perceive the onboarding process, how they feel, what we’re doing good, and where further improvements are needed.

    Buddying up for a supportive team experience

    In the first week of onboarding, every new hire is also paired with a current Databox Playmaker who helps the new team member to understand our company culture and day-to-day processes better, introduce them to the rest of the team, bridge social connections, share advice, and answer questions as they come up.

    New job anxiety is a reality for many people, and the adjustment can sometimes be challenging. That’s why it’s essential that all new Databox team members are assigned a ready, willing, and excited Buddy to assist in the first months.

    “Until I joined Databox, I hadn’t experienced such hands-on and well-structured onboarding. I had the privilege of having 3 co-workers supporting my transition into the new role. Žiga, Uroš and Andrej have not only helped me understand the high-level approach to the processes but also strongly influenced my development as a project manager. I always say onboarding is one of those things that can make or break your initial experience on a new job, and I have to say mine was the true highlight that only confirmed joining Databox was the right decision”. 

    – Aljaž, Project Manager

    Onboarding into company culture is up to the entire organisation.

    As you see, the onboarding process is something everyone in our team plays their part in. While it’s essential to set a good example by having leaders and founders live, breathe, and showcase these values and behaviours, we also believe and are deeply committed to co-creating our company culture as a team (and individuals). 

    “Each of us has the impact to show what our company culture looks like – from leadership, managers, Buddies, People team and every team member. We believe it is our joint responsibility.”

    By regularly re-evaluating the process and checking in with our new members, we are strengthening our company culture and ensuring the whole team is on board with our values. Our commitment is, therefore, to constantly improve the onboarding process, especially regarding monitoring the following areas:

    • How do organisational culture and values ​​live in practice?
    • Have employee expectations about the new role and working at Databox been met?
    • What does the new employee expect in the next onboarding cycle?
    • Do they have enough support?
    • What can we do better?
    • Is the boarding plan realised according to the program?

    Stay tuned for more on this topic, but for now, we want to get back to you – what are your experiences with onboarding? Let us know in the comments; we’d love to learn more.

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