June 29 2020
Vincit has grown rapidly in recent years, and every year we’ve welcomed dozens of new employees to the company. This has given us the opportunity to refine, test and improve the onboarding process and its various stages over the years. Spring 2020 introduced us to some special circumstances when it came to onboarding, but thanks to our cleverly chosen tools, it didn’t have that big of an impact on our usual way of doing things in the end.
It’s possible to make good use of the first projectless week or two on the job, but it requires a bit of preplanning and coming up with some relevant things to do (as well as making sure that user ID’s and tools all work as they should). In this text, we’ll talk in detail about the first couple of months in the new job and introduce the onboarding elements that all new Vincitizens regardless of their role will learn about.
We offer our new permanent employees the same thing we offer our clients –100% satisfaction, guaranteed. If during the trial period the employee feels like Vincit may not be the best place for them after all and their daily work doesn’t match their expectations despite our best efforts, we offer the employee a significant amount of money to help them on their journey to new challenges. We’ve only had to pay the satisfaction guarantee a couple of times, even though it’s been in use for years.
We want to encourage our employees to point out any problems in a constructive and open manner from the get-go and by so doing help us build a rewarding and well-functioning work environment for everyone involved.
During the preparation of the employment contract, the employee gets access to their own Newbie Trello, which has been particularly designed for Vincit’s needs and which is no doubt one of the cornerstones of our onboarding process. The Trello board in question consists of 64 task cards which provide all the necessary onboarding information and essential guidance needed during the first days at a new job regardless of position. Some of the tasks (e.g. insurances and welcome package) are done by other people, but the employee still gets to do most of the tasks on the list at their own pace and on their potential project’s terms.
Starting in a new job involves a lot of information and tasks that do not need to be memorized or carried out at a particular time or place. A ready-made and easy to follow to-do list often helps to adopt the new, often fragmented, information. The Newbie Trello also makes the onboarders’ job easier, as it in a way outsources much of the process to the new employee. This doesn’t mean that the newcomer is left to their own devices to tackle a mountain of Trello lists, and the most important things are still gone through together of course, but it’s safe to say that the Newbie Trello allows things to run a lot more smoothly for all parties concerned.
The Trello board works equally well in a situation where the employee already has a project to work on the day they start in their new job and in a situation where an appropriate project hasn’t yet been found. The Trello columns include times for the various tasks, but they should only be thought as indicative. The time spent on the task is ultimately irrelevant. What is important, however, is that almost everyone who’s ever used the Newbie Trello later identifies it as the most useful (and exceptional) aspect of the onboarding process.
A buddy is an onboarder colleague who helps the people person (the person responsible for HR matters in the cell) and supports the new coworker as they take their first steps in the new job. Buddies are chosen by the people persons of their respective cells with the aim of finding the best possible person for the task. The most important job of a buddy is to ensure that the new employee can easily access help and support, especially when it comes to technical and project-related matters. Buddies also act as an important links between the new employee and the work community: they take the newbie on a tour around their cell, make sure that the new colleague takes part in the community’s leisure activities, and take them out to lunch on Vincit’s own Tesla, for example. During the pandemic, getting to know the coworkers and spending time with them has taken place over the Internet instead of the office. The buddy also gets to keep track of the onboarding process on Trello and can let the newbie know if there are things they should hurry along.
For practical reasons, the first day of work always takes place at the office – with restrictions in place, as safely as possible and somewhat more quickly than normal, of course. The first day always involves a lot of expectations and excited nervousness, which has led us to notice that getting the right tools and the access tag or installing VPN can be done much more quickly in tow of an experienced coworker.
In normal circumstances, we begin the morning by getting to know the office facilities and all the necessary conveniences (closest bathroom and coffee machine, way to the cafeteria and location of the parking spaces). After the tour, our new colleague gets to install their new tools and meet their buddy over lunch. After all the essential installations are complete, some people jump right into the hubbub of their own team while others take some more time to acclimatize themselves.
As the first week progresses, the newcomer is taken through several more rounds of introductions (both live and remote) and joint coffee breaks, as well as various onboarding discussions depending on their role and cell.
On the first day of work, the new employee receives their first onboarding message in their email. They will keep getting these messages once a week for the next six weeks. The emails aim to alleviate the information overload of the first couple of days and seek to ensure that the employee remembers all the essential things about their new job.
The messages include digital content that supports the current phase of the onboarding process. The video clips sent to the employee go through Vincit’s history, organization, self-leadership and culture, and also provide an opportunity to hear from Vincit’s Executive Group.
At the height of the pandemic, we decided to organize a common coffee break for all the new Vincitizens who had started within a certain period of time. During these virtual coffee breaks, the new employees get to share their thoughts and experiences with other newbies. Feeling included in the more closely-knit communities holds great value, especially since project kick-offs sometimes get delayed. We’ve noticed that the virtual breaks also act as a convenient bridge between the Vincitizens of different offices, as they promote cooperation and lay the groundwork for future joint projects. This practice is likely to also remain part of our onboarding process in the future.
Approximately three times a year, we invite all the new Vincitizens who have started in the company within the past couple of weeks or months to get together for a meeting. We go through some key matters related to things such as sales, projects, decision making, self-leadership and everyday support, get to know each other and have lunch together. Our CEO Mikko and members of the executive committee are also present, ready to chat with the participants and answer their questions. Even if we’re forced to organize these events virtually, Vincit’s excellent facilitators and telework experts will ensure that the day is a success and a great experience every time.
Our new employees typically find their own projects quite quickly, and we often hear that the Vincit culture and daily life are easy to adopt. Common sense will get you far, and help is always available – all you need to do is ask. People persons keep regular contact with our new employees. The newbies are able to tell how they’re feeling during tea and coffee breaks as well as in Slack discussions. In addition, any thoughts or concerns can also be voiced during scheduled discussion sessions.
Our onboarding process includes a one-on-one check-in at the half-way mark of the trial period after about 3 months and a check-in proper at around 5 months. The themes of the discussion are related to becoming part of the work community, how the onboarding is going, ongoing projects, and the daily work and workload in general. We tend to stress, probably to the point of sounding like a broken record, the importance of asking questions throughout the onboarding journey, and we emphasize the fact that we are all involved in building a pleasant and well-functioning workplace. This is something to keep in mind also and particularly during the early stages of employment when people often have a desire to show what they’re made of.
Before the trial period check-in, we collect feedback from the employee’s closest colleagues (and sometimes clients), which we go through together during the trial period discussion. The employee also gets to have a say in the questions of the feedback questionnaire and the feedback can be focused according to the employee’s wishes. The feedback from colleagues is invariably thoughtful, thorough and honest, and often includes high praises. It’s been great to notice how even the most serious employees get a smile on their face when reading through their feedback.
There you have it, the key elements of our customized, position non-specific onboarding process. Onboarding is a highly significant and meaningful process for both the employee and the employer. As long as onboarding is well-organized and takes into consideration the individual needs and characteristics of the employee, it can considerably help the dive into the daily flow of work.
We believe that onboarding should be taken seriously and organized individually in a way that allows the new employee to form a strong connection with the company and its community already during the first couple of months of employment. In our experience, investing in onboarding promotes commitment and serves as a foundation for the development of psychological safety. Onboarding enables the building of a shared experience and a sense of community and gives the employee the courage to be themselves while taking others into consideration. As several Vincitizens have remarked, coming to Vincit feels like coming home.
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