When you onboard a new hire, it’s important to make them feel welcomed and excited about joining your team. The process is all about sharing knowledge, communicating values, and building connections. This helps you transform new employees into confident, engaged, and empowered team members. That’s why it’s so important to design a creative new employee onboarding experience. In fact, according to Glassdoor, an effective onboarding program can increase new hire retention by 82%, and productivity by over 70%.
Today, we are going to discuss onboarding activities and share a list of creative onboarding ideas to help you improve your new hire employee experience and increase those all-important new hire productivity and retention levels. Table of Contents
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What are Onboarding Activities?
So, what is onboarding, and what are creative new employee onboarding activities?
Employee onboarding is a new hire’s introduction to your company. It typically begins on an employee’s first day, and it is your opportunity to provide them with the knowledge they need to perform well at their jobs. It’s also a vital stage for introducing a new hire to your organization’s structure, culture, vision, mission, and values. When done correctly, the employee onboarding stage can help new hires become integrated, motivated, and productive members of your team.
Traditionally, onboarding involved endless boring paperwork, PowerPoints, and uncomfortable icebreakers. This, however, did nothing for the employee experience and often left employees ill-equipped, isolated, and, frankly, pretty bored.
These days, many companies appreciate the value of making the office or digital onboarding process as fun, creative, and interactive as possible. By focusing less on ticking boxes and more on creating fun and inclusive activities, new employees experience a warm welcome that helps them better understand and integrate into their new teams.
Creative onboarding activities are also a great way to make a good first impression through a positive employee experience, making new hires far more likely to stay at your company in the long run. The idea is to use creative employee onboarding activities to inspire and engage employees from day one so that they instantly feel a part of your corporate culture.
9 Ideas for a Creative New Employee Onboarding
When it comes to onboarding ideas, it’s important not to focus too much on the practicalities. Although you need to process paperwork, order supplies, and prepare their new workspace, it’s just as important to prepare a series of creative new employee onboarding activities to help new hires understand your culture and build connections with their new colleagues.
If you don’t already have one, you should create an onboarding checklist to make sure everything is covered during this vital introductory phase. HR onboarding software is also a highly effective solution for making sure you get the most from the process.
Here are 9 creative onboarding activities to help you make your onboarding experience as fun, interactive and memorable as possible.
Preboarding is the process of engaging your new hires from the moment they accept your job offer. The aim is to spend this time familiarizing a new hire with your organization so that they are ready to hit the ground running on day one. This helps them feel welcome, engaged, and valued so that they are excited to join the team.
This might include an email outlining what they can expect during their first few days, a quick phone or video call with their new manager, providing them with access to onboarding software, or even a virtual tour of the office.
Preboarding is also a perfect opportunity to complete as many onboarding documents in advance as possible so that less time is spent completing paperwork on an employee’s first day. For example, if you work in manufacturing, you can share information about Good Manufacturing Practices in advance so that new hires can begin familiarizing themselves with materials and equipment.
You should also make sure you clarify the difference between onboarding vs. orientation so that your new hire knows what to expect when they arrive at the office.
One of the most important creative new employee onboarding activities you should implement is a comprehensive welcome kit. This will help your new hires understand the workings of your organization so that they feel comfortable and valued.
Your welcome kit might include:
- A printed copy of your employee handbook
- An organizational chart and office maps
- Information about your company values, mission, vision, and culture
- Office maps
- Helpful information such as parking, dress code, where people go for lunch, nearby cafes, general working hours, etc.
A branded swag bag can be a great way to welcome a new employee to your company.
For example, you could provide them with branded stationery, a company mug, notebooks, a t-shirt with your company logo, or anything else that will help them feel included and happy to be joining the team.
You could even surprise your new hire on their first day by decorating their desk with balloons, a welcome sign, or their favorite breakfast food. Get creative!
Creative New Employee Onboarding Icebreakers
Another creative new employee onboarding activity is getting your new hire involved in a few get-to-know-you games to help break the ice. You can put your own spin on games like “Two Truths and a Lie.” based on trivia about the new hire.
Or you could play “Who is it?”. Get everyone on the team to submit an unusual fact about themselves. Then gather the team and get the new hire to guess who is connected to each fact.
You could even create a light-hearted quiz to test and reward a new employee’s knowledge of the company. Deloitte got very creative with this idea and created their own zombie apocalypse onboarding game. The more fun and creative, the better!
Introducing a buddy system can help your new hires feel less lonely and isolated during their first few weeks. A buddy can guide them through the socialization process and show them the ropes. They can also get them up to speed with some of the “unwritten rules” of the organization. Plus, it’s a great way to make sure your new starter has the right support when they need it.
You could even expand this idea and offer new hires a selection of buddies. For example, you could assign them a Leader Buddy, a Role Buddy, and a Culture Buddy. This will help them get to know every aspect of your business so that they can fully integrate into your organization.
Of all the unique onboarding activities for new employees mentioned in this article, this one is perhaps the most playful and fun. It involves a scavenger hunt in the office!
With this game, new hires have to visit other staff members in order to collect answers or rewards. This can be a great way to get new hires used to the office layout. It also encourages them to meet people from different departments and get to know their team members. Plus, it takes away the awkwardness of introductions and creates a sense of openness.
Start on a Friday
Most employers arrange for new hires to start on a Monday morning. Instead, why not introduce them to the company on a Friday. This idea can work wonders in reducing anxiety and helping the new starter feel at ease. The general mood of the office will also be lighter than on a Monday morning. Plus, everyone will be relaxed and excited about the upcoming weekend.
Also, consider changing the new hire’s start time. Instead of getting them to come in at 9 when you are likely to be busy, get them to come in at 11. This will give you time to prepare so that you can give them your full attention. And you can introduce them to the team during their mid-morning coffee break, instead.
Rookie Cookie Program
Another simple yet creative new employee onboarding activity is encouraging the new hire to participate in a “Rookie Cookie” program. First, encourage your new hire to bring in cakes or cookies on their first day. They just get them to set them up on their new desk. The promise of treats will then motivate other members of the team to stop by and introduce themselves. Much tastier and more enjoyable than a formal meet and greet!
Organize a Creative New Employee Onboarding Social Event
Finally, the most traditional of all the creative new employee onboarding activities is organizing a social event. This could be a lunch, drinks after work, or a picnic in the park. A fun event can be a great way to break the ice in an informal setting so that your new hire can start building relationships with their new colleagues. It also shows them that you care about giving them a warm welcome and you value that they have joined your team.