A good employee experience is one that works for both the employee and the organisation.  

Traditionally HR teams have built people processes from the inside out i.e. from their own perspective of what’s needed from the process and how this can be run as efficiently as possible. It’s been the HR team’s job to take into account what the organisation needs from the interaction. The challenge is this often misses what’s really important to the employee.  

Let’s take on boarding as an example…  

Imagine it’s your first day working in a restaurant. You turn up an hour before the restaurant opens as you’ve been told and the front door is locked. You look through the glass and try to attract the attention of someone prepping food to let you in. The first person you make eye contact with shouts through the glass that “we don’t open for another hour”. You keep trying and eventually the team supervisor comes over. It’s the restaurant manager’s day off and he didn’t pass on the message that there was a new starter, but no worries, there’s some spare uniform in the stock room. Unfortunately the only t-shirt they have is a bit dirty and a size too small. When you put it on, you can’t decide whether you ought to be more self-conscious about the way it clings to your midriff or the greasy stain just above your left nipple.  

You’re relieved to get an apron on and be put to work but every time you finish a job you have to find someone to ask what you should do next. And you can’t for the life of you remember everyone’s names. So far it feels like you’ve just been getting in the way and you’re dreading the moment the doors open and you have to be a spare part in front of actual customers. 

Somehow you make it through the shift. A few of the team members are really nice and take you under their wing. You head home telling yourself tomorrow will be better.  

You return on day two and there seems to be a whole different team of people working but at least the manager is in. They greet you and spend some time giving you a tour of the restaurant and telling you everything that will be expected of you in your job. After 15 minutes you’re struggling to take in all the information and you’re worried you might have already forgotten the “most important” thing to remember. 

At the end of the tour, the manager asks for all your paperwork, but they don’t seem particularly bothered about it. You sit down together for a few minutes, the manager fills in some of the forms for you and then after 20 minutes says it’s boring and that you can finish off the rest when there’s nothing else to do. You don’t really feel it’s the time to ask about when you’ll get your first paycheck.

Hopefully this little story highlights some of the moments that really matter to employees, but which get lost when HR teams design on boarding experiences.

From the employees perspective what really matters is:

  • Were they expected and welcomed on their first day?  
  • Did their uniform fit?  
  • Did they feel able to contribute to the team? 
  • Were they overwhelmed by new information? 
  • Was somebody tasked with looking after them? 
  • Did they feel this was the kind of team they’d fit in to and make progress in?  

Instead of focusing on the things that are really important to new hires during on boarding, HR is typically concerned about compliance – setting up payroll correctly, ensuring paperwork is all in order, getting the new hire set up on internal systems. Their goal is first to make sure these things happen for every new hire and then to make these things as seamless and easy to manage as possible. 

But if you ignore what’s important to the employee, you risk creating an on boarding experience that fails in its primary function – to welcome people into the organisation. As our case study with Five Guys shows, taking an employee centric approach delivers better results for the business.