Inclusion Tips for Successful Onboarding

By Paloma Figueroa, Kim Tran, Ph.D, & Rachel Marcuse

For many organizations, the beginning of the year comes with an influx of new hires. And as we all know from personal experience, a new employee’s first few weeks set the tone for their experience with an organization. When deployed effectively, onboarding can be an incredibly powerful way to align new members of your team to the kind of culture your organization is actively developing, while also welcoming their individual perspectives and identities.

Here are our some tips we’ve developed to inform onboarding from a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) perspective:

  • Onboarding should start at the day your new team member is hired; not their first day. First impressions are notoriously difficult to change and will influence how a new employee feels about their work and the culture. Add a schedule of “pre-onboarding activities” to your organization’s onboarding checklist. Tasks can include:

    • A personalized welcome email sent at least a week before the new hire’s first day to include: time and location of where to show up on their first day, who will greet them (ideally, their manager), an overview of what to expect during onboarding (an agenda!), and whether lunch will be provided.

    • Providing context for a new employee’s work with a “New Hire Reading List.” This list can include: HR docs (handbook, tax forms, etc.) relevant cultural alignment documentation (vision statement, org charts, etc.) and readings that have influenced leadership.

  • Prepare your team. New hire onboarding does not happen in a vacuum. Incoming employees inevitably change team dynamics. Preparing your team ahead of time for how and where a new hire will fit into your organization can go a long way in preemptively answer the questions that are in the back of everyone’s mind. Setting the expectation that onboarding is considered a community practice, where all are encouraged to provide support, and at the very least a warm welcome, goes a long way toward creating an inclusive environment.

  • Ask what the new hire’s preferred workspace setup is. Include a Request for Accommodations Form for those who need it. Accessibility is often overlooked in this process and something deeply tied with identity and comfort at any workplace.

  • Establish achievable objectives. Share objectives for each month of the new hire’s first 90 days and allocate time (e.g., in a weekly 1:1) to check in on progress against, and receive feedback about those objectives.

  • Prioritize the time and space for feedback and questions. Not every new hire will know how to or be comfortable with asking for what they need. The manager can ask: “What can I do to help you feel/be successful at the end of your first day? First week?”, “What questions can I answer for you?” or “What worked/didn’t work for you in your working relationship with your last manager?” as ways to open the dialogue.

Need an onboarding revamp? Starting from scratch? We’ve got you covered. Let’s talk about how we can make your process more inclusive and human-centered in 2019.

Willie Jackson