Building a successful onboarding experience for globally distributed teams is certainly not a new topic in the HR arena. More than a year into a pandemic that forced most teams to be distributed, there are organizations still struggling with facilitating an Onboarding System that accomplishes its main goal successfully: integrating a new employee into company culture, as well as providing new hires with all of the resources and information needed to become a productive member of the team.
For Zype, remote work began before the global pandemic. Zype already had Zypesters globally distributed in March 2020, and was taking steps to incorporate more distributed team members. The new reality brought on by COVID-19 accelerated the process, reinforcing the confidence that it can be done successfully with the proper tools, procedures and buy-in from stakeholders.
Having personally been through the onboarding experience over the past three months as Zype’s new Director of People Operations, I was able to see first hand the importance of this program. I was able to live it from multiple perspectives simultaneously, as a peer of new hires, as well as the leader responsible for onboarding in our PeopleOps team.
This also gave me the opportunity to share my perspective on our Onboarding program, with 14 new Zypesters joining in 2021 so far!
So, how do we onboard our distributed team at Zype?
At Zype the onboarding starts way before the first day. It starts with a focus on the understanding that we are not only choosing a new team member, but that we are being chosen by the Zypester as an employer, as a place to work, as a manager, as a mentor, as a coach, as a career development opportunity, and as a team. So, for the first part of the onboarding goal: “integrating a new employee into the company culture”, we are focused from the very first interview in sharing all that we can so the cultural fit can be established both ways.
This is done through a thoughtful and transparent hiring process and, once an offer is accepted, through a welcoming and interactive experience before the first day of work. A few days ahead of the start date we send a fun, fact filled introduction of the new Zypester to the full Zype team, so everyone can get to know the new hire and welcome them into the company.
Then day 1 comes--- it’s finally here! The most important thing is that all newcomers have an awesome experience, regardless of role or location. We all know that having a thoughtful onboarding process builds the roots of engagement so we are focused on having a process and a team that becomes a support system that will help navigate the first months smoothly.
The journey starts with a “Zype Buddy” that will help the new Zypester learn the tools, shared routines and meetings, and specific information hubs, and that will be available for any questions. Remember the person who used to show you where to find the coffee and the fastest way to the bathroom? Yep, that’s your buddy!
People Ops (yes probably me or someone on my team!) will be part of the orientation too, and will host a live meeting to go over all of the available tools, general procedures and a detailed map of who to ask for what. And links!
And last but not least, the Zypester’s manager will set up 1:1 meetings with you every day of your first week, and almost every day of your second and third weeks, and at least once every week after that. Yes, EVERY.
After this, the new Zypester will have 2 tracks of self-administered learning available to them. Week 1 focused on Zype, our culture, our teams, our strategy. A checklist of [mostly fun] tasks will guide you through our video learning library and our tools, history, and mission, and the Zypester will also be scheduling “coffee breaks” with Zypesters across the company that can help answer many questions outside the context of formal training.
Month 1 will be focused on your specific department onboarding. The team manager will develop a thoughtful plan with you, as well as confirm the job description and deeper job mission that will ensure alignment on expectations for your first year at Zype.
After each track ends, PeopleOps will reach out to check on your progress, and after the first 90 days we will check in again and ask the Zypester for their feedback on the process, your experience and advice for improvement. And giving you feedback of how we see everything is going too! Onboarding will continue, no one is fully ramped up in just 3 months, but the basics are covered and then there is a timeline to take actual ownership of the different responsibilities of the role.
So...why is an Onboarding System so important?
A well thought out, interactive, and feedback driven Onboarding System ensures your most valuable asset - your talent - is set up for success as soon as possible in their career journey at your company. For Zype, we aim to set early expectations about what the new hire is being asked to deliver, and provide them with the environment in which they can be successful accomplishing it. To that end, my advice as a PeopleOps leader is to be extra resourceful and make sure you are giving all the resources you can to this effort.
But it’s not only about the what and the how, it is also about creating meaningful interactions, especially in a globally distributed team. An Onboarding System that promotes frequent interaction creates a network of permanent communication and relationships - even if the team doesn’t sit in the same office together every day.
Empowering distributed teams starts by putting in place a detailed, cross functional and pertinent onboarding that will help build relationships between coworkers and peers. Dare to assign a buddy from a different department, dare to give liberty from day one to navigate the organization, dare to make it fun!
Want to learn more about our hiring process, company culture, or interested in joining our team? Check out our Careers page here.