Onboarding: how we welcome new colleagues @FindHotel

The FindHotel team has been growing fast in the past year and In the last 10 months we have onboarded more than 20 new colleagues at FindHotel. When we had a handful of new starters back in June 2019, we decided it was time to improve the experience for our new starters with a better onboarding process. Since then we have taken further steps to make sure our newbies feel welcome, get to know the company and the team and are able to contribute as early as possible.

June 2019

With a bunch of new colleagues who didn’t want to miss our company trip to Mallorca and decided to join us in June 2019, it was time to coordinate the onboarding efforts at FindHotel better. We were already having introductions to the different teams and of course made sure our new colleagues were feeling welcome by providing them both their equipment and some FindHotel gadgets on their first working day. Apart from that we also had a buddy system and an onboarding plan for our starters. But there was certainly a lot of room for improvement and more follow up.

Our efforts to revamp the onboarding program started with the creation of a standard template for the individual onboarding plan. This includes milestones for the first month, an overview of the introduction sessions with the different teams and 1-1 meetings the new colleague should have (most of them planned upfront), but also a lot of recommended reading material (from information about our company strategy over a guide to office life at FindHotel until a manual to use certain tools). It also includes an overview of which systems and tools the new colleague will or might need to perform his/her job.

A next important improvement was to have follow up moments between starters and the people squad. The first week check-in is mostly an informal chat to see if everything is going well in the first days and to see if the newcomer has any doubts or needs help. After the first month we send out a survey to collect feedback about the onboarding program, about FindHotel as an organization and to see if the expectations have been matched.  The results of the survey are used to have a further follow-up chat with the people squad, identify potential issues early on and to further improve the way we do things at FindHotel in general and the onboarding program specifically.

2020

In the last months of 2019 we have been very busy recruiting and that means we’ve had a lot of new starters in the first months of 2020. We took the learnings from the previous months and took onboarding to the next level. This included both big and small changes, such as:

  • In January 2020 we also brought our remote starters to the office in Amsterdam for the first 2 weeks of their onboarding. An ideal chance to meet and bond with the team and to speed up the learning and feeling of belonging
  • We invested in the social side of the onboarding. A first social initiative is to invite newcomers who start on or around the same date for a fun activity (eg. a boat trip) to get to know each other and the city a bit better.  Every squad also organizes a social activity together in the first or second week. And last but not least, at the end of the month (or when we have a big enough group of recent starters) our new starters have dinner or lunch with our founder Oz.
  • At the end of the first week our newcomers present ourselves in our weekly all-hands meeting. This has very quickly become an event the whole team is looking forward to! Our product owner Hensen took the introduction to the next level, even if he couldn’t join the meeting live!
  • Based on the feedback from the past, the order/structure of the onboarding program has been rethought. In the first sessions of our introduction we start with the big picture about our company, product and architecture. Then we break it further down, including a presentation of every squad about who they are and what they do.
  • More documentation. Our Confluence includes a specific space for onboarding. Everyone who is involved in any way in onboarding (people squad, newcomers, buddies, onboarding managers, colleagues, …) can find any information they need there. Or let the people squad know if something is missing.
  • More follow up and more pre-onboarding. The onboarding doesn’t start on day 1 and doesn’t stop after the introduction sessions are over. That’s why we now keep in touch more regularly before the actual start date and have prepared more material, especially for people relocating from abroad. There are also more (formal and informal) follow-up moments with the people squad: at least after week 1, month 1, month 3 and month 6.
  • A better internal process. With Andreea starting in January as our new HR Operations manager the onboarding is even more a collective effort. That’s why a better internal coordination and checklists about who does what and who starts when have become even more important.

Results

The feedback on our onboarding process has been great so far. To start with, our newcomers feel more than welcome in the team.

But there’s more. The onboarding of remotes in the office has clearly helped to speed up the integration in the teams, both on the level of interpersonal relations and contribution.

And even more importantly: from all colleagues who started since June last year, only one left the FindHotel ship (after relocating back to his home country due to personal reasons).

What’s next?

Of course there are still some challenges and points of improvement in the onboarding process. That’s why we are always looking to make things better, while maintaining what is going well. The next action points on our to do list include:

  • Improving the continuous feedback process to make sure our newcomers always know if they are performing according to our expectations
  • Improving the onboarding in the squads - while we have a general company-wide program, there are still difference between how different squads organize the onboarding in the team
  • Find the right balance between having a great experience for the newcomers, while not overloading our other team members with onboarding duties