Getting On Board

Settling into a new job typically brings a nervous tension mixed with raw excitement. How can we help new hires get off on the right foot and make a brilliant first impression whilst also proving our organisation was the right choice? Emily Link shares the tips for a smooth onboarding process.

We know that onboarding people into teams successfully is key to their performance and professional development. Done well, it can set our new team members up for a long, fulfilling, and enjoyable career at an organisation. But done poorly, it can leave a lasting impression, lead to poor outcomes, and worst-case scenario, a quick resignation.  

After we’ve gone to so much effort, time, and money to hire the right people for the job, it’s definitely worth thinking about how to onboard brilliantly so they get off to a flying start, feel settled in their new roles and are ready to perform to the best of their ability. 

Our Top Tips for Successful Onboarding:

1. Make them feel welcome

Remember, a LOT of it comes down to the feeling on the first day. Make sure new hires start on a day when lots of people are around, ready to say hello, spend time with them and share their insight. Welcome passes, reading material, new tech, coffees set up with colleagues and lunch, will hopefully ensure that people feel valued, included, and excited about their new role. 

2. Get hiring managers involved 

Of course, there will be plenty to complete in onboarding programmes, but Manager interactions are key. We always try to build these into the pathways we design at Interactive Workshops—nothing can replace the time invested in building relationships with the people you’ll be working alongside. 

3. Get them doing real work

Onboarding programmes can sometimes be very theoretical as we try to train people up before they are let loose into the real world. Of course, it is important to upskill and develop new hires before they embark on important external projects. But it’s worth thinking about what real work you could let them get stuck into on their first few days—nothing is more satisfying than being trusted with a real deliverable and getting feedback early on.  

4. Go digital

We are advocates for in-person onboarding as you get all those extra benefits of interaction, relationships, and socialising, but there is a place for thinking about what can be delivered online and allowing scope for self-directed learning or accessibility to wider geographies. Learning hubs, eLearnings, videos, virtual sessions, online courses etc. can all boost the learning opportunities and scalability of an onboarding programme. An ‘always-on’ onboarding programme could involve a whole host of wonderful digital resources that people can dive into at various points along the journey. 

5. Write down the things in our heads

It’s hard to put ourself in the shoes of a new starter, but we can ask those that recently started (focus groups can be a great way to do this): What were the things that were in people’s heads? Try to get them written down. It might seem simple, but it’s gold dust to a new starter; e.g., a jargon buster, a map to the nearest eateries, the dos and don’ts, etc. 

What Are The Top Tech Companies Doing To Onboard Their Workforces Brilliantly? 

Onboarding to the role vs to the company

What are the main challenges these companies are facing when it comes to onboarding?

How much time is spent communicating company values, mission, beliefs, and ways of working vs the day-to-day nitty-gritty of ‘how to’ in the job? There are a variety of roles on a huge scale. 

How is Interactive Workshops helping to solve these challenges?

Thinking about who has responsibility for what. For instance, what sits with the People/HR team, the Hiring Manager and the individual. This means that there is potential to build pathways and learning experiences that can be owned by different people involved in the onboarding process. 

The paradox of time vs depth

What are the main challenges these companies are facing when it comes to onboarding?

Companies want ramp-up time to be minimised and the impact to be maximised—they need to make choices around how much time is spent on onboarding to hit the sweet spot of giving new starters enough to feel confident and equipped.

How is Interactive Workshops helping to solve these challenges?

This is where we see experiential learning being really effective. By rooting what we design in real-life examples of the role, we can provide depth, quickly. 

There is LOADS to learn

What are the main challenges these companies are facing when it comes to onboarding?

Defining what is key information and when learners need to receive it is tricky. If they get too much information all at once they can’t process it and apply it effectively.

How is Interactive Workshops helping to solve these challenges?

Scoping with individuals to determine what is helpful to know before learners start, on their first day, week, month, etc. It’s essential. We also have a variety of learning formats e.g. in person, eLearnings, virtual sessions, Hubs etc. that provide different ways to digest the information and implement it. 

What’s your one piece of advice for companies designing up and delivering their onboarding programmes? 


Speak to the people who are doing the roles that you are onboarding for—get them to define the actions/behaviours that people need to be able to do to be successful in one month/three months/six months, etc. Create a time frame, build the programme around that and ensure there is clear support available throughout.

Speak to people that were recently onboarded—what was missing? What would they love? What else do they want to see? Make sure to involve them in the design process. 

Make it real 

Provide scenarios, simulations, or role-playing exercises where they can apply knowledge in real-time. This not only helps them retain information but also boosts confidence as they transition into their new roles. Remember, mastery comes from repetition and experience, so integrating practical exercises into the onboarding programme will set new hires up for success.