How we revamped our onboarding

Written by Charline Corsellis-Hannus

When I joined INSHUR, there wasn’t much in the way of onboarding in place. I headed to the UK’s Brighton office on my first day, was handed a laptop and pretty much started working straight away. It didn’t surprise me, though. This is often the experience with young start-ups. I knew what I had signed up for and I was excited about it, so I hit the ground running.

Fast forward to 2 years later and the first piece of feedback we very often get from new starters is how great their onboarding experience has been. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come since the day I first walked in. It’s been a long road and we’ve learned through doing, as is so often the case with start-ups. The great part is that we’re now at the point where we can look back at how far we’ve come and recognise what we’ve learned.

Here are our top lessons from revamping our onboarding:

Map out the journey

Well, first of all, “give credit where credit is due”. Tina Phillips joined as our super VP of People, Talent and Culture and brought her extensive knowledge with her. This was a big first step on the road to creating a comprehensive onboarding process. We sat down and mapped out a new starter’s journey in our brand new office, on our freshly wallpapered wall. Using an agile methodology, we thought about what each new starter may be thinking, feeling or worrying about; then mapped the steps as needed. #wearebraveandinnovative

Stay in touch, often!

No one should be left in the dark. We aim to stay in touch with our new starters from the minute they sign their contract to their first day with us, which is why we create a solid onboarding agenda for each new starter. The agenda runs for 1 or 2 weeks from their first day, depending on the role,  and involves each new team member getting to meet everyone in their team and more. We give them access to Bob, our People management platform, where they can get to know their teams and we provide them with useful information and documentation, like our employee handbook and our code of conduct, so they can get familiar with who we are and how we do things. We also send every new member of the team our favourite books and some delicious welcome treats.🤗 If this sounds right up your street, check out our open roles!

Iteration and feedback is key

Once we knew what we needed and when we needed to action it during a new hire’s journey, we just went and did it. Finding out the right balance for everybody is an iterative process: it might feel too much for some people or not enough for others.

We now measure how well we’re doing when it comes to onboarding as we strongly believe that it has a positive long-term impact on a team member. We send an onboarding survey to each new starter after 6 weeks, asking for candid feedback about their experience of the recruitment process, if they have access to the resources and training they need, if they are clear on expectations and how they feel about the company culture, objectives and values. Last quarter, we surpassed our own expectations and scored a fantastic 4.9 out of 5 – needless to say, it’s super rewarding when I look back at how scrappy it was when I first started!

Asking our new joiners for this feedback has been the most valuable exercise. The best thing is: they don’t shy away from it. Our strong onboarding process is thanks to their honest input, which aligns with what we believe in: at INSHUR, we co-create the experience and the culture and we act like owners, not renters. #wearealwayslearning

Create a buddy system

We’ve tried to counter the common challenges of being new to a company in different ways. Some initiatives have made a dent, but as we’ve grown the signal came up again: some teammates felt disconnected and lacked context from other areas of the company. Staying connected is especially important as we work in a distributed way and we soon saw the value in a buddy system, which is now a vital part of successful onboarding for any new joiner. The system is designed to establish a connection with a peer outside the new joiner’s immediate team for long-term support, accountability and continuity. #wearehelpfulandgrounded

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Make quick adjustments

We also had to reinvent the process in a very quick time frame when the pandemic hit us back in March 2020. Overnight, we went from an in-office experience (complete with office tour, allergies check and a nice lunch out with the team) to a 100% remote onboarding experience. Thankfully, our onboarding steps were designed so they could be easily replicated to accommodate the shift. We added remote-friendly items to the experience that would perhaps feel surplus in a physical world, but are absolutely necessary in fast-scaling remote reality – having every new joiner create a User Manual are one such example. Our reactivity and the flexibility of our new joiners have been key here for us to be successful and we’re delighted that our remote efforts are still bringing us positive reviews. #wedeliver

What does your company do that makes a big difference when it comes to onboarding? We’d love to know!