HRD talks to Indeed’s SVP of HR about why the company is encouraging staff to build cross-functional relationships from the get-go
Indeed has introduced a new onboarding progam where they bring together new hires across several different departments.
The idea of Impact onboarding is to build cross-functional relationships from the beginning so employees can learn company culture in a low-stakes way.
Of the new hires, two teams are formed and given a theme to work with at the start of the working week. Their job is to develop an idea, test and tweak it, then present it to managers and colleagues at the end of their first week.
Each group is then required to come up with a winning idea, build a prototype and then test within one week.
Further guidelines include:
- Collect outside feedback and make adjustments, or scrap the idea and do something else.
- Don’t worry about failing, because there’s merit in understanding data to know what works and doesn’t work.
- Don’t worry about moving the needle; it’s great if that happens but the number-one priority is that the new hires are able to build relationships, learn how we work as a company and have the opportunity to explore, create and bring their best selves to work.
- As the challenge progressed, managers gave the teams a ‘shift card’ when they hit a roadblock in their thoughts and needed a fresh perspective. The card changed an element of the game — for example, shifting locations from the conference room to another part of the office to encourage different thinking.
Paul Wolfe, Indeed’s SVP of Human Resources, told HRD that the company specialises in developing and deploying ideas, testing them and gathering feedback.
“Then we make adjustments, and we put the ideas out there again,” said Wolfe.
“Impact onboarding introduces teams to this value right away and sets the stage for a career of innovation.”
Impact onboarding began at Indeed in Q4 of 2017. They’ve now run two pilots and are planning on running three further pilots in Q4 of this year.
Wolfe added that it’s particularly interesting that for many companies onboarding is overlooked as part of the candidate experience.
“Companies now do all this stuff to woo candidates and get candidates to think about them when they want to look for a job,” he said.
“However, then the candidates go through this very ‘HRish’ and uninspiring onboarding process in the first couple of hours.”
Wolfe said that Indeed recognises that trying new things is always exciting — and it’s especially gratifying when they work.
“Turning the tables on employees, inspiring them to innovate and considering their ideas with open minds worked wonders for our test groups and program stakeholders,” he said.
“As we continue to refine and perfect this idea, our next task will be to figure out a way to scale it company-wide.”
One of the things Indeed found through their pilot in Austin was that people from engineering, marketing and a couple of other groups who started on that same day and week will now still regularly talk to each other.
“We also want to get a new hire’s fresh perspective on some challenges that we are trying to solve as a company.”
So why is building cross-functional relationships so important for Indeed?
Wolfe believes that for any company of any size that it’s important because there are going to be projects that employees work on that requires them to reach out “across the line of their function into another function”.
Building these relationships helps get things done, whether it’s a client issue, a job or even a HR program that you are trying to get off the ground.
“At the end of the day, whether it’s a small company or a large company, just knowing people and having that relationship with other people that are working for the same company is really important,” he said.
“They might not be doing the same thing that you do every single day but by building these different relationships it is excellent for employee engagement.”
Moreover, Wolfe has a few tips for other HR professionals to make their onboarding programs more engaging.
“If you are an HR person who has been at the company a while and have not sat through onboarding, then go sit through it,” he said.
“Try and sit through it through the eyes of a new hire, not knowing anything about the company, because I think that’s eye-opening at times.”
Wolfe also believes that surveying new hires that have recently been through the onboarding and getting their feedback is very important.
“We survey new hires at day five which is the end of their first week of Impact onboarding, and also at day 30 and day 90,” said Wolfe.
Wolfe added that getting that feedback and different perspectives from people who have recently been through it has been really beneficial.