Onboarding new starters
With Pulse 360 being part of the FSP family, we were able to ask our resident Microsoft 365 wizard, Alex Gibson, on some of the great ways onboarding can be re-imagined during this difficult period.
Using smart automation to support a great new starter experience
This year has posed significant challenges to how we onboard, embed and nurture new starters.
What has become clear during remote working is that our traditional ‘business as usual’ onboarding experience is hard to replicate at a distance. However, in many of our organisations, we have the components to automate, but still personalise, how our new starters start to engage with the company and our key platforms and tools.
Enterprise Social Networks, such as Yammer (from Microsoft) offer a major opportunity to HR and Comms professionals looking to improve this.
The typical problems
New starters join with a range of technical knowledge and competence
Often new starters are hitting the social network or intranet “cold”, if they hit the network at all. Their formative weeks at the organisation are largely wasted.
Yammer isn’t consistently introduced at induction across your brands, offices, or personas.
If they do stumble in, dormant groups (without owners or active usage) give an impression that it’s not valuable or relevant.
Users drop in and out of the network – with nothing to hook them back in.
Without the in-person community, users are further disconnected and isolated from their colleagues and the organisation.
A fresh approach
What’s interesting about these problems, is that much of the infrastructure already exists to solve it. Your IT team may be disconnected from who is starting in the organisation but Active Directory or your HRIS certainly are not. It’s really just a case of harnessing existing information – to serve new purposes.
What you’re missing is a bit of technology in the middle to read and respond to this data, on your behalf.
First - let’s consider a new starter experience. Meet Julie, she’s joining the sales team.
All of the above scenario is delivered on an entirely automated basis - with no manual intervention required by either IT, HR or Communications teams. We have a dashboard to keep track of it all, but it just sort of... happens.
And it doesn’t need to end there.
Once this core foundation had been established, it becomes easy to expand into:
Tracking sentiment across groups
Providing an alternative on-boarding experience for frontline workers (and any other specific persona)
Re-engaging users who've left (or are largely inactive) on the network
Care about the techie stuff?
The underlying technology we've used is a combination of Power Automate (formally Microsoft Flow), Microsoft Cognitive Services, and a few Azure functions. With Power Automate at the heart of the tool, it's easy to tweak logic and timings without having to write or deploy any code.
If this does sound interesting, here is where I suggest you start.
1 - Work out what your ideal new-starter experience would be.
2 – Choose your technology, I don’t think you’ll beat Power Automate or Logic Apps given the step-by-step nature of the work involved. If you’re currently a Microsoft centric organisation, you really won't beat it.*
3 - Pilot. There’s no substitute for real world user feedback but this can be done in a really agile way.
*Depending on your background, you may need to partner with a technical specialist at this point, either in-house or via an external supplier.
To be absolutely clear, this is designed to be used in conjunction with more traditional onboarding approaches, not as a direct replacement. Both have their place in the modern organisation!
If you’re looking to improve distanced onboarding, this is a fantastic place to start.
Alex Gibson is the Microsoft 365 Strategy Lead at FSP.
He focuses on and helping people get the most out of their Microsoft Office 365 investment.
He loves the English countryside, Irish whiskey, and any foods that can be deep-fried in peanut oil.