Onboarding Matters: A Thorough Process Makes a Huge Difference

Did you know that nearly 70 percent of employees are more likely to continue working for a company for three years if they underwent a successful onboarding process?

There’s an endless number of lists and statistics that prove how a thorough onboarding process can positively affect both new employees and employers, so odds are that you’re not here for another list. What’s more interesting — and useful — is how to create a thorough and successful onboarding process, because let’s face it, onboarding isn’t always easy.

I’ve been developing and managing software for over 20 years (has it really been that long?), and during this time I’ve interviewed and recruited dozens of developers for my teams. Over these two decades I learned that successfully integrating new people into your team is a challenge, to say the least.

WSC Sports has added 19 employees since the beginning of 2019, and has jumped from six employees in 2014 to 100 employees and counting in April, 2019. Growing the business and developing our product while continuously adding more people and integrating them into the daily workflow is challenging and demanding. One has to find a balance between maintaining the workload and helping new team members adjust and begin to take part in daily tasks. The trick is how to integrate them the right way.

What’s Onboarding all about?

If you’ve ever joined a new company, you probably had to go through some kind of an onboarding process, even if it was an unofficial one. It should cover everything from where to park your car to the company’s methodologies and standards you should practice in your day-to-day work.

At WSC we carefully crafted our onboarding process, adjusting and improving as new employees come aboard. Do keep in mind that different organizations and companies’ needs may vary.

The WSC Process

The Pre-season

When creating an onboarding process, try to recall your first day at the office. Did you know who you should approach for what issue? Were you aware of what was expected from you the first week?

At WSC, the onboarding process starts even before the employee’s first day at the office.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie straight out of university or you’ve been in the industry for ages, everyone has a different background and should align to the technical skill set that is required for the job.

To help bridge this gap, we created a plan for each new employee that includes access to our technical references. We use training services like Pluralsight that include great courses on various subjects. Pluralsight enables us to create a channel for each new employee that enables us to set a list of courses that he or she should take before arriving on their first day.

Right before the first day, each new teammate receives an introductory email with some useful information and a set of questions to get to know him or her better. These questions can be about the employee’s favorite food, what he or she is most scared of or the weirdest job they’ve ever had. What are these questions used for? You’ll find out next.

The Official WSC Welcome

The night before a new teammate joins the squad, our CEO sends an email to the entire company introducing the new coworker and sharing the answers to the questions we mentioned earlier — favorite food, weirdest job, etc. When they arrive at the office, every new employee gets a physical futbol-style WSC kit that includes company swag: a bag, shirt and coffee mug. We also have our online Welcome Kit, an internal website with all the information a new employee needs to know when starting: the WiFi password, methods of communication at the office, where to order food from, when is the weekly Happy Hour, etc.

We were all once new at a company, and had plenty of small questions but may have been shy about asking busy coworkers — our Welcome Kit is specifically designed to help in such situations, gathering all the necessary information to one platform.

The “Rookie Trail”

Making sure new employees feel welcome is a priority for us at WSC, so aside from your usual first-day form filling duties, we’ve created a series of activities and online portals to help our rookie teammates.

The Rookie Trail was created during one of our hackathons, and is an actual trail of QR Codes spread around the office. The Trail’s goal makes sure new employees mingle with their teammates by asking them to do simple tasks, such as asking the product team about the new features of the product or invite a team member to a FIFA match — side note, our FIFA station is also quite famous for getting new employees to bond with our team.

The trail will help the newcomers learn their way around the office and hopefully get to know some of its people.

WSC Sports Playbook

Now starts the more fun, and longer, part of the process: introducing new teammates to the workflow and products. For this, we created the WSC Playbook. The Playbook is a one stop shop for all onboarding needs for newcomers to learn about our products and technology.

Once the new employee has gone through the basic courses, he/she is assigned the relevant courses for his or her paths. The paths are determined according to the person’s expertise, for example: backend developer, QA engineer, DevOps engineer, product, etc. All paths can be found in the Playbook, which goes into more details about the systems we work with and provides technical courses and internal courses we’ve created to bridge the gap for newcomers. Those include our products overview, software methodologies and tools, code standards, database, general architecture overview and much more. Each course has its own content manager and is updated regularly. The Playbook, which we built on Moodle, allows new players to learn everything they need to know about our work while their teammates are able to continue with their daily tasks.

Getting to know the Ins and Outs of WSC

Ensuring our employees are up to speed on the workings of every department and not just the one they’ve joined is incredibly important. Therefore, every few weeks we have a meeting for all new employees with the different department heads. Employees meet with Marketing, Operations, HR, BizDev and Product to better understand their day-to-day activities and overall goals within the company.

This is all during the first week or two, but the onboarding process goes even beyond. After the first week, each department director meets with the employee. In our case, it’s the VP of R&D, who has a one-on-one with new teammates to get feedback about the process. Was something missing? What can we improve? Six weeks in, our CEO meets with every newbie to see how things are going. After two months, our head of HR does the same.

In Onboarding We Trust

The onboarding process is meant to help new teammates to easily integrate into the company. But it is also helpful for everyone around, especially when veteran employees and management members are open-minded and willing to — if not eager to — receive feedback regarding the procedure.

When done correctly, everyone in the company benefits from a thorough onboarding process. The proof is in the statistics (which you should always monitor. We sure do!)