Breakfast for Champions | Designing a Human Centered Onboarding Experience

April 4, 2023 – A few weeks ago, members joined Daesha Ramachandran and Steph Farnum from Tusk Consulting to explore the ins and outs of what makes an inclusive onboarding experience, and the pitfalls that often lead to unwanted experiences for new and current employees during the process. Attendees spent the session dreaming up their ideal onboarding packages and experiences, while centering inclusivity and the human experience.

The conversation kicked off by introducing a set of prevailing myths that often influence an organization’s onboarding process and perpetuate the generic, one-size-fits-all onboarding experience that companies of all sizes often adopt. Unrealistic timeline expectations, team bandwidth, and demanding organizational goals all contribute to the adoption of the hyper condensed onboarding process. Recognizing the detrimental impacts that onboarding myths can have on the long-term success of an employee and the overall culture of an organization is a necessary first step to take if you’re looking to re-evaluate the onboarding process at your organization and promote sustainable change.

Daesha and Steph used an interesting metaphor to paint what the onboarding experience should reflect; a nutritious plate of food. The plate represented the onboarding experience as a whole, while each portion of food on the plate represented the knowledge and social interactions that make up that experience. As many of us know, a balanced plate at every meal is necessary to keep us energized and focused, but more importantly, the content of that plate contributes to our individual longevity. Not every person needs or enjoys the same meals and what may be delicious and nutritious for some, may cause a physiological nightmare in another. The education and social interactions we experience while onboarding at a new organization can either overwhelm us or it can set us up to create our best work. Of course, we all have organizational challenges and expectations that directly challenge an individualized onboarding design, but even the slightest shift towards this approach can be revolutionary for our workplaces and should be the direction we’re all moving towards if our goal is to truly be inclusive.

So how do we kick off this redesign? Get clear on what it is you really want the onboarding experience at your specific organization to look like and start there. Don’t start with constraints and limitations because that will distract you from the human experience that you’re looking to design from and will also set you back further than necessary from that ideal design. Finally, design courageously with this thought in mind: people powered systems are hard to change but that is also exactly what makes them malleable and allows you the opportunity to redesign them. We hope you left the session with fresher ideas and a desire to not only provide a better onboarding experience to new employees but also expect one for yourself in the future.

Our latest Breakfast for Champions session is part of a three part employee experience series. If you are a member and missed the last two, Inclusive Interviewing with Elizabeth, log into your Partners in Diversity portal and watch the recorded session under the Resources tab. Next, we’ll tackle Inclusive Performance Management with Elizabeth Laine. Registration is open and you can register here: