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Creating a global onboarding experience

By Gabriela MatiasAug 20196 min read

We launched our global onboarding programme in April 2018. In this post, we share how we built the programme and the impact it's had on employee experience, one year on.

The experience employees have in their first few months at a new company sets the tone for long term engagement, productivity, and even retention.

Last year, faced with a high-growth rate and the challenge of building one global team, across multiple locations, we decided to review and improve our onboarding experience – to make sure all of our new joiners feel part of the team from day one.

The new global onboarding programme launched in April 2018 and is something we look to continuously improve based on feedback from new joiners and onboarding champions. 

This blog post explains our approach to building the programme and the results in employee experience, one year on.

What did we focus on?

The feeling of belonging, social engagement, and meaningful work are some of the main drivers for employee engagement.

Our global onboarding process was built with these in mind, thinking about what we want working at GoCardless to be like and how our onboarding processes can help achieve that.

We want every employee to:

  • Understand how their role helps us to achieve our mission.

  • Feel they belong and develop a social network that will support them.

  • Experience smooth internal processes so they can focus on achieving our mission together, as one GoCardless.

Welcome to GoCardless

The first day is all about celebrating the arrival of new joiners and making them feel welcome – this includes a welcome session and some signature swag waiting on their desk.

Every new joiner starts their journey at GoCardless on a Tuesday, at 10am, with breakfast and an overview of the company, from values to mission, and what the first day, week, and month will look like.

This allows new joiners to come in, relaxed, without the stress of London rush hour. It also gives our onboarding champions and the office team the chance to ensure everything is ready on Mondays instead of on a Friday afternoon.

Building Community

Inclusion and engagement surveys, offboarding interviews and other feedback tells us that the team is the main thing employees love about GoCardless and it’s really important for us to keep this sense of community as we grow.

To do this, we encourage collaboration between teams and employees from the outset. 

Everyone starts as part of a cohort, so there isn’t only one new joiner on any given week. This helps to create connections across departments and offices. 

In the first week, new joiners attend sessions with every department across the business to find out about each function, how they operate and work with other teams. These sessions make sure new joiners have at least one friendly face they can ask for help or reach out to if they need support from that team.

With multiple new joiners every week, it’s also important for us to make sure that everyone gets the chance to welcome and meet the new members of our team. 

Our office team organise a monthly ‘Welcome to GoCardless’ event. These events are deliberately held at different times of the day to make sure everyone has the chance to attend – regardless of their personal commitments.

Belonging at GoCardless

We want every new joiner to feel part of the GoCardless team from their first day and we do this by:

  1. Offering all benefits from day one: We want to help our new joiners succeed and bring their best to work and we believe that the benefits we offer, from healthcare to learning budget, can help achieve this.

  2. Running a dedicated session about our values and how they guide us from our hiring process to decision making. 

  3. Sharing GoCardless’ history, vision and mission: Our executive team welcome new joiners and share the journey so far, and our plans for the future.

Set up for success

We want onboarding to be a great experience for everyone involved – this includes our onboarding champions, managers, office and people teams. To manage this, we created a structure to ensure that everyone knows what’s expected. This includes: 

  • A schedule: All global onboarding sessions happen in the morning, in the same room, in a recurring schedule. This means that: 

    • Onboarding champions can fit their sessions in to their working week.

    • Managers know when new joiners will be in the onboarding sessions.

    • New joiners know when and where to go for each session.

  • Access to resources: All of the presentations live in our intranet and employees can revisit them after their onboarding. Existing employees are also able to join sessions for a refresher at any point.

  • Automated processes: We set up a number of automated task lists, emails, and documents to ensure everything runs smoothly.

  • Industry knowledge: We don’t expect people to be experts in Direct Debit. Initial sessions include learning about our product, what the payments market looks like (and how GoCardless fits in it) and Direct Debit 101.

What has changed since we launched the new programme?

After two weeks, we ask every new joiner to complete a survey with feedback on the global onboarding process and later we organise a chat with their Talent Partner to talk about their experience of life at GoCardless so far. 

We also use CultureAmp to run surveys throughout the year that allow us to keep a pulse on how the whole team is experiencing Life at GoCardless. 

We have seen some improvements a year on from the launch of the programme. Based on the results from our onboarding, engagement, and inclusion surveys:

  • 98% of new joiners agree that they feel welcomed at GoCardless, a 5% increase since the introduction of the programme.

  • 85% of new joiners agree the onboarding experience gave them the opportunity to establish good relationships with people that are key to their role, an increase of 21%.

  • 85% of employees who have been at GoCardless for 1 year feel they belong, compared with 78% of employees who had been at GoCardless for a year during the 2018 inclusion survey.

What’s next

We believe in continuously improving our processes as we grow and we have adapted our programme based on feedback from new joiners since it’s launch, experimenting with changes and assessing their impact.

As we grow we’re looking at new challenges and how we can overcome them:

  • How do we embed the global onboarding programme in our offices around the world and decide which sessions are run in London vs in local offices?

  • How do we keep the balance between running in-person sessions and other ways of learning and training, whilst keeping a way for people to connect across the business?

  • How to improve role-specific onboarding, bringing in the same principles and ensuring there is training available, regardless of the office the new joiner is joining.

  • How do we get people to know not just various departments but people from different offices?

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