How to Keep Employee Onboarding Engaging

By Glassdoor

Imagine it’s your first day at a new company. You have a knot in your stomach and you feel nervous. You walk in the front door of your new office building and as you grab the handle, you pray that the knot in your stomach is not a confirmation of your greatest fear — that you will be disappointed by this opportunity.

Fun & Engaging New Hire Onboarding Ideas

Imagine it’s your first day at a new company. You have a knot in your stomach and you feel nervous. You walk in the front door of your new office building or you tune in to your first virtual team meeting, and as do, you pray that the knot in your stomach is not a confirmation of your greatest fear – that you will be disappointed by this opportunity.

As a new employee, what you really want in the onboarding process is confirmation that you made the right decision. Choosing a job is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make; however, job seekers are often forced to make this decision with minimal information about the company, the management philosophy, culture, and expectations. Because a standard interview process takes two to three rounds of in-person interviews, accepting a job after these few interactions is like getting married after two or three dates – a big leap of faith.

Employers that really care about soothing your fears will spend plenty of time making new hires comfortable on their first day. Before a candidate accepts a position, fill them in on what your onboarding process looks like and what will be expected of them – this will give them a massive insight into your company culture. At Glassdoor, we have a full day of orientation for our new employees, and at the end of the day, we survey them to find out what they loved and what they didn’t.

Here’s what our new hires like most:

  • We tell new hires ahead of time what to expect on your first day.
  • We ask them ahead of time what kind of computer they want. On their first, it’s all set up and their name on it!
  • We share the organizational structure so they know who does what.
  • We have virtual or in-person ice breaker games so they get to know their fellow new hires. If they’re working in our physical office, we have a scavenger hunt so they get to wander around the office and find the game room, the gym, the supply rooms and fellow co-workers.
  • At the end of the orientation, their manager takes over and welcomes them to the team.

So, what can we take away from the things our new hires love the most?

Here are ideas you can incorporate into your onboarding program today:

1. Be transparentHave you ever been to the dentist for surgery? Would you rather walk into the experience blindly, having no idea what you’re getting into or where the worst parts will be? Or, would you rather go in eyes wide open, aware of what to expect and feel more comfortable about what’s to come after getting all the facts? Odds are, you want to know what to expect. When your new hires walk in the door or log on as a full-time employee for the first time, start orientation sessions by letting them know what the plan is.

2. Find the balance. No one wants to sit through two weeks of training. If you can make it short and sweet while still giving new employees all of the primary information they need, do that. Obviously, training will extend to weeks, months and years to come on the job, but initial onboarding is meant to familiarize the person with the company and give them any information they need to know. Start with the basics.

3. Make it fun. Onboarding sessions are, to a certain extent, going to be boring. There’s information that you have to get through, and for at least part of the day, employees are going to have to sit in a room or stare at a screen and listen to someone present. But that doesn’t mean onboarding has to be 12 hours of slide decks and lectures. Treat new hires to a special lunch either in person or delivered, host a scavenger hunt or a new hire happy hour, and make it fun. Think of how you’d want to spend a day. Would you want to be in back-to-back presentations, or would you want to break up the day with some fun bonding activities and actually get to know some of your peers? Use this time to make a great first impression and let your new hires know that they made the right decision.

Fun Onboarding Ideas and Games

  • New Employee Trivia
    What better way to learn about your new hires than on the spot quizzes? Random trivia can be a great onboarding activity for new hires that tests their knowledge in the industry, pop culture, world travel and more. It’s a great way to learn about each new hire and their interests – and easy to conduct in person or virtually.
  • Scavenger Hunt for New Employees
    Who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt? If your new hires are on-site, break your company out into teams or send your new hires on a scavenger hunt throughout the company. Have them find various objects throughout the building, or send them to gather information on other employees. Offer gift cards or rewards for completing the hunt!
  • Various Ice Breaker Games for New Hires
    There are several games you can play with new hires to give them a cool onboarding experience. Lost on a Deserted Island, Two Truths and Lie, Would You Rather, and Five Favorites are great icebreaker games for new hires – all possible to conduct in person or virtually.
  • Company Offsite Lunch
    If food is a big part of your company culture, create an activity that centers on sharing a meal together. It’s possible to do virtually too! For an in-person onboarding activity, set up and offsite, multi-restaurant food excursion. For a virtual food-centered onboarding activity, arrange to have the entire cohort of new employees receive food from the same delivery service and share a meal over video conferencing.


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