Teammate Onboarding: How to Make It More Than an Introduction to the Company
by Julie Turpin, Chief People Officer at Brown & Brown Insurance
(Pictured above: Teammates coming together at our HQ in Daytona Beach, FL)
Stepping into a new role can feel like you’re on a roller coaster ride.
A ride on a poorly maintained structure can be unpleasant and disorienting, even terrifying. If a company’s onboarding process is mismanaged or neglected, team members can similarly feel like they are being thrown into a chaotic and overwhelming situation. 81% of employees feel overwhelmed by the orientation process.
On the other hand, a well-designed and cared-for ride can be thrilling, building the right level of anticipation, introducing exciting elements along the way and concluding with a sense of exhilaration.
Our goal in 2022 was to hold a magnifying glass up to our onboarding structure, see if and where it was causing disorientation to its “riders,” and build a better, well-paced experience that welcomes new teammates and empowers them to achieve more. I believe it’s one of the reasons we were recently named 2023 Best Workplaces in Financial Services and Insurance by Great Place to Work and Fortune Media. Here’s how we did it:
The process: A lot of listening to current and new teammates, candidates and other leaders within the company to gain insight into what we do right and what we can do better.
What we learned: We have historically unloaded a lot of information into the first 30 days of a new team member’s experience, asking them to learn a lot in a short time frame. Since not everything resonates when you’re new to an environment, serving up the right information at the right time can be more effective.
Which led us to…
Next Gen Onboarding
That’s what we call the result of our Brown & Brown Insurance orientation transformation — Next Gen Onboarding — and we really have transformed it. Now, it’s more than just an onboarding process; it’s a roadmap for newcomers to thrive on our team.
And why should you care if your teammates are thriving and not just surviving? Beyond the importance of being a compassionate leader, 63% of workers consider leaving their jobs within two years if they’re not thriving in their positions.
Here are five ways to transform any organization’s onboarding process and how these steps are helping us at Brown & Brown better support our company culture and improve teammate retention.
- Orientation + onboarding + reinforcement + development: Job orientations typically last between one day and one week. During this time, you introduce the newcomer to the company’s history and values, their supervisor and colleagues and outline job expectations. In our evaluation, we found that one week was not enough time to truly introduce a newcomer to our organization and their role within it. Our Next Gen Onboarding takes a more thoughtful and deliberate approach, phasing in information in the initial 30-60-90 days to gradually introduce responsibilities and regularly check in on a new teammate’s progress.We took this to the next level by adding two more phases to the program: reinforcement (days 90-180) and development (days 180-365). While the reinforcement period allows new teammates more time to understand and experience the organization’s core values and competencies, the development period transforms the process from an introduction to the company to a roadmap to reach the next step in their career.
- Incorporate professional development sooner rather than later: One of the things we heard most from teammates and candidates is that they want the opportunity to sit with their leaders and create learning and development plans for both short- and long-term goals sooner rather than later. Learning and development is one of the best ways to invest in your talent and give them the tools they need to grow.We implemented Learning Journey sessions, which help our teammates build their personal development plans (PDP) and acquire the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) needed for success right from the start. Instead of waiting until they’re well into their roles, we provide tailored and timely training and resources to help them achieve their specific goals.
- Prioritize approachable leadership: Accessible and approachable leadership builds comfort, trust and open communication with new teammates. Along with building in more opportunities for our leadership to directly speak to our teams, like our forthcoming Quarterly Culture Club featuring CEO Powell Brown, we’re also implementing a podcast called New Kid on the Block specifically for new teammates to hear from a variety of Brown & Brown leadership. I am very honored to have the opportunity to be the first guest and look forward to sharing my career journey, experiences at the company and details about what Team Resources does to support the business. A platform like this not only immerses new employees into the organization but also helps them become stronger leaders by better understanding the business and its people.
- Expand networking opportunities: We’re also embedding our Peer Partnership Program into our onboarding process, which will introduce new teammates to another Brown & Brown member who sits outside their office. Teammates are paired based on personal similarities (someone who also enjoys meditation and yoga, for example. Guess who? 😉) or career aspirations. Not only does this help new teammates extend their network and build connections across the organization, but it also gives tenured teammates mentorship opportunities.
- Reevaluate the process on a regular basis: New teammates may not be eligible to participate in general business surveys, but we don’t want them to have to wait 180 days to provide input. Checking in both formally through automated, quick surveys and informally through regular conversations will help us keep a pulse on how newcomers are faring and where we can further enhance our onboarding experience. The onboarding process should always reflect the current state and values of the organization. Regular and scheduled evaluations of the process will provide opportunities to proactively make the appropriate updates that keep the process fresh, relevant and impactful.
The perfect onboarding program that meets everyone’s needs does not exist; starting something new is always challenging, and each person learns and transitions differently. But, how an organization supports its new teammates says a lot about how much it will show up for them throughout their careers.
How Personal & Professional Growth Can Help You Lead A Fullfilled Life
by Julie Turpin, Chief People Officer at Brown & Brown Insurance
Subscribe to Julie’s PurposeFULL Leadership and view this blog on LinkedIn here.