Onboarding a new employee is challenging at any organization, but it’s especially tricky within the technology industry. That’s because tech companies are driven by innovation, speed, and constant evolution. Regardless of their department, new employees are often expected to dive into their work immediately and assimilate into the company culture along the way.
But while the laid-back, casual environments we’ve come to expect from the tech world may foster collaboration and creative thinking, a lack of concrete onboarding can limit a new hire’s potential. Without a structured process to equip people with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed, even the most talented and experienced employees may find themselves floundering.
To help ensure you’re giving your new hires everything they need to thrive, check out these tech industry onboarding best practices:
Create a Standardized Approach
Some companies start all new hires in a classroom-style training environment where they learn the company history, mission, vision, and values before moving on to technical training within their specific departments. Others prepare a series of self-guided learning modules new employees must complete within their first weeks on the job. Some companies charge department heads or team leaders with training new hires, while others assemble training committees.
The approach you choose depends on your organization’s size, resources, and hiring volume, but one thing is for sure—if you don’t iron out the process and ensure it’s well-documented, you’ll face problems. Every employee, regardless of department or career level, should receive the same support and guidance. If your company operates in a hybrid model, ensure remote employees get just as much communication and knowledge access as your in-office team members.
Start the Process Before Their First Day
If you don’t start onboarding until an employee arrives for their first day of work, you’re already behind. No one should walk in (or log on) for the first time without knowing exactly what to expect, where to go, or what they should do.
After an employee has officially accepted a job offer, there’s usually a period of about two or three weeks where your new hire wraps up their previous role and coordinates logistics of the new position (like relocating, securing childcare, or setting up their home office). It’s crucial you keep the lines of communication open throughout this time. Share useful information, like your org chart, employee handbook, and, most importantly, a training plan with clear expectations and timelines. This way, they won’t spend their first few days with the company in a state of confusion.
Assign a Primary Point of Contact
Even with a thorough process, tech industry onboarding can be overwhelming—product knowledge alone can take several days of training. Often, new hires run into roadblocks and, in these moments, they may not know where to go or to whom they should reach out. This is why it’s essential you provide each new hire with a primary point of contact, like a more senior teammate or a member of the company’s recruiting and talent department. This person will guide new hires to the right resources and pass along any useful tacit knowledge.
For example, if a new employee runs into a technical issue, their primary point of contact can explain how to submit an IT ticket—or when to submit a ticket versus sending a Slack message.
Define Your Culture
A shocking 29 percent of employees have at some point quit a job within the first 90 days, according to a survey by Jobvite. Of that number, 28 percent cited culture as their reason for leaving.
Your company culture can be one of your strongest assets for attracting and retaining top talent—or a leading factor driving new hires for the doors. Often, issues arise when there’s a disconnect between how the culture is presented versus how it’s actually observed within the organization.
To close this gap, consider fielding a survey to existing employees asking them to define your culture. This will help you better understand the day-to-day experiences of existing employees so you can better describe the environment to job candidates. (It will also help you root out and solve cultural issues that may be responsible for employee turnover.)
Break Down Knowledge Silos Early
If we weren’t aware of knowledge silos before, most of us are now. The pandemic has shone a glaring spotlight on how well or poorly we’ve organized information within our organizations and how easy or difficult it is to access that knowledge. Because people aren’t gathered in the same physical locations, many initially struggled to get their questions answered or hunt down documents and processes. Thankfully, many companies have since adopted knowledge management solutions to help employees quickly locate what they need as soon as they need it.
Make sure new employees have access to your knowledge management platform on their first day, along with a tutorial on how to use it. This way, whenever they have a question or need to find something, they’ll know where to start. (This is critical for every department—but especially for customer service roles within tech companies where delivering the right answers quickly is essential to providing best-in-class customer experiences and differentiating your brand from the competition.)
As soon as an employee has completed the onboarding process, ask for their input. What benefitted them most? Where in the process did they experience challenges or frustrations? Find out where you’re succeeding as well as where you could do better while the experience is still fresh in your new hires’ minds. This valuable insight can help you continuously level up your onboarding and ensure you’re doing whatever you can to maximize new employees’ success.
Tech industry onboarding is a strange beast, especially compared to more traditional industries with less variance between companies. In addition to teaching new hires about your culture, internal processes, and organizational hierarchy, tech organizations also need to make sure new employees are fully informed on products or services—which likely evolve all the time. By applying these six practices and adopting a reliable knowledge management platform, you can mitigate confusion and ensure all employees have the support they need to do their best.