The onboarding process is a pivotal moment for your company to help make new employees feel included from day one. It’s also the time to showcase you’re walking the talk, painting a bigger picture of what it’s truly like to be a team member at your organisation. This is why building an inclusive onboarding experience is so important to creating an inclusive company culture!
Unfortunately, onboarding isn’t always inclusive because the focus is often on getting new hires ready and contributing - rather than settled in. It can quickly become more about the process than experience. In doing this, you may fail to really connect new hires to their new role, team, and company.
Instead of leaving employees feeling left out and disconnected, focus on creating a meaningful experience by slowing down, making adjustments for each individual, and making your new hire feel welcome.
Onboarding is a great time to explain your company values and show you’re delivering on the culture you promised throughout the application/interview processes. By showing what your values mean to the people of the business, you’ll help new hires really understand the character of your company.
Make sure your goals and values are defined and expressed in a way that covers multiple perspectives, too. It might help to explain how people from different teams interpret and use them in their day-to-day work.
It’s also important to explain your exact approach to DEI policies, and what your plans are to strengthen these. New hires will likely feel a lot more comfortable knowing that they are working for a company with actionable DEI processes in place - rather than just treating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as buzzwords or tick boxes.
There are simple ways to incorporate DEI in the technical elements of your onboarding, too. For example, when setting up online employee accounts, make sure there’s a place for them to select their own gender identity, and input their chosen pronouns and name.
Helping a new hire connect with people across the company allows for better relationship building - particularly with members from other teams they may not be working with on a regular basis.
As a result, setting up lunches and meetings with diverse people from different areas of the business is a great way to help new hires feel connected. If new team members are being trained and met by people who are seemingly very similar, this doesn’t give off the best impression (and doesn’t showcase commitment to diversifying your teams).
Getting feedback from new starters is one of the most important ways to help craft an inclusive onboarding process. If you’re not receiving feedback directly from those who have experienced it, how will you know which areas need to be changed or improved?
Send out surveys in which individuals can submit their responses anonymously. You could send simple statements for staff to agree / disagree with, such as:
It’s also important to make sure there’s always the option for new starters to discuss their thoughts in person, too. Keeping multiple channels of communication open will increase the likelihood of more responses - and gives the opportunity for people to choose the method they’re most comfortable with.