Why Google’s Onboarding Process Works 25% Better Than Everyone Else’s
Even tech giants have humble beginnings.
In the halcyon days when Google was making the transition from a bedroom to a rented garage in Menlo Park, it won’t surprise you to learn they didn’t have a tight onboarding process in place.
For years Google ran on a single, sprawling spreadsheet including a ranked list of the company’s top 100 projects. The projects were confusingly graded on a scale between “far out” and “skunkworks”, and the founders handled the process with a ‘who cares’ attitude.
Since that point, everyone knows Google has made leaps not only in the Internet space but also in the workplace. The company is the #3 world’s most valuable brand and the #3 best employer in America. Its made extremely effective tweaks to its hiring process over the years, but what isn’t reported as often is its approach to new employee onboarding — the process of getting a new hire equipped with everything they need to integrate into the company culture, work effectively and succeed.
The wackier aspects of Google’s orientation process are widely known. We’ve heard about the Noogler beanies with motorized propellers, and the Mountain View all-Noogler TGIF meetings where the founders “just come in and make some dad jokes”. The inner workings of the process, however — the parts that make it so notoriously effective — aren’t as obvious.
In this article, I’m going to run through the nuts and bolts of Google’s ‘just in time’ employee onboarding process, and some of the supporting events that happen during.
Google’s ‘just in time’ onboarding checklist
Just one day before a new hire joins, the hire’s manager is sent an email with five small tasks that will need their attention.
The list is pretty simple:
- Have a discussion about roles and responsibilities
- Match the new hire with a peer buddy
- Help the new hire build a social network
- Set up employee onboarding check-ins once a month for the new hire’s first six months
- Encourage open dialogue
The fact that managers get sent these instructions with only 24 hours to prepare plays on the recency effect — the tendency for people to recall the last thing that happened to them better than things in between.
Put simply, getting that email in front of the manager “just in time” makes it easier to remember. This, in turn, means that they are more likely to execute it correctly.
The email isn’t mass mailed, either. It’s sent only to the manager who needs to see it, making them feel like they’re directly responsible for getting it done. The checklist is no-nonsense and doesn’t include a ton of instructional material, which is instead given to the Noogler with more time on their hands to get familiar with it.
After all, when creating reference materials and checklists (especially if you’re strapped for time), bare-bones is always the way to go.
This small change — creating a sense of urgency and responsibility — has improved onboarding results by 25% at Google.
Why Google’s checklist is laser-focused on …read more
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