Onboarding: Want Brand Advocates? Start ’em Early
Onboarding isn’t about paperwork and signatures. No, it’s so much more than that. (HR software can take care of a lot of that for you before a new hire even shows up on day one.) It’s about getting your new people comfortable and adjusted and, well, familiar with your company. But most importantly, your product and brand.
After all, that IS why they’re there, right? They’re there to glean everything they can about your product and ultimately become advocates of your brand. It’s important to focus a large chunk of your onboarding on getting your people familiar with and, frankly, be sold on your brand.
What’s in a brand?
Your brand is the perception others have about your company and products. In fact, you can’t touch it. You can try but it’s not always up to you. It belongs to people outside your company. What you do have control over is how your people exude your brand during every touch point, every communication. How do they treat your customers? How about potential customers? What about those who may never need what your offering? It doesn’t matter. They all have opinions about your brand. And that matters to you.
That’s why every single employee you have (new or seasoned) needs to understand how valuable their actions are to your company’s brand.
Here are 5 ways you can focus on your brand and recruit brand advocates during the onboarding process:
1. Tell stories. One of the most important aspects of onboarding is helping new hires feel like they belong with the team that’s been working together for who-knows-how-many years before they came on. Feeling part of the team is huge in that first bit of time on the job. In fact, in a study asking new hires why they left jobs within the first six months, 17 percent of employees said, “A friendly smile or helpful coworker would have made all the difference.” So tell them stories. Tell them about the company’s origins and other inside jokes that come up a lot around the office. It will help new employees feel a part of the company, and they’ll retain those stories as part of why they relate so well to the company and the brand.
At BambooHR, we have an inside joke about Creamies. Ask anyone here about Creamies and they’ll laugh. It’s an inside joke that began long before most of us got here and it’s continued to be reinforced each time we’re rewarded with Creamies at the office. It all is part of your culture and ultimately part of the brand. You can’t take the teeniest part of your company’s history or culture out of the brand.
2. Create a brand book. A brand or culture book is a great way to solidify the points and values you need your employees to understand. In fact, if you haven’t given much thought to your mission or company values—or haven’t yet written them down—then this is the fun part. This is where you dig and determine why you are doing what you’re doing. Why is your company functioning? If you don’t know this, then your brand isn’t set up to reach its potential.
At BambooHR, we created a brand book that exemplifies what it means to be a part of the BambooHR team. We hope it inspires new and existing employees each time they read it. It contains the basics and foundations of what we stand for. We want to make sure everyone knows stories about the way our company began, which ultimately feeds into what our brand is today. We don’t mind sharing it outside of our company because we’re proud of it. And since we’re in the business of helping others, we hope it inspires others to put down their brand in a similar way. Here, check it out.
3. Show videos. Who doesn’t like movie time? Make it fun for new hires during their first several weeks. Give your new hires a bowl of popcorn and let them watch the videos that show your brand in all its glory. At BambooHR, we have videos about our products:
About our strategy:
Even about social media:
Each video gives a glimpse into our brand’s voice. It tells them a little bit more about who we are and helps them feel a part of the brand. We even use most of our own employees in our videos so new employees may see a familiar face when walking through the halls or even sitting in the desk beside them. And hey, it gives them something to talk about when they’re trying to find ways to connect with coworkers early on.
4. Give them content. New hires won’t know where to find the content your company is putting out into the public. So onboarding is a great time to provide it to them. So, of course, I’m a huge advocate for the blog (how could I not be?) because it’s a regular installment of your brand’s voice discussing topics in your industry. It gives even salespeople or customer support members topics they can discuss easily with customers.
We also encourage new hires to stay up on articles and ebooks. Because we’re pretty particular about each and every piece of content that reaches the public be scoured for brand authenticity, those pieces of content are great for helping new hires understand the voice they should use when communicating with customers or teaching them important phrases and terms.
If you get new hires signed on and following blog updates and product news on social networks, they’ll see updates each day and can keep current with what’s going on with your company. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to help them locate your company on the social pages and get them set up following. This way, they can easily see new content every single day. And hopefully they will see others sharing that content and want to share it themselves!
5. Have them help with recruiting. In the long run, you want your employees to recommend your company’s products, content and even job openings. When people are happy and really bought into the mission and company’s brand, they won’t be able to help but talk positively about their company and their job. It won’t be something they even mean to do, but they’ll be advocating for your company. It should never feel forced. It should be very natural because it’s what people who truly love where they work do. People talk about what they love. They can’t help it! Before you know it, their friends and families will want to work there too. Because when people love their jobs and their companies, it will rub off on their friends and families. Job referrals are then a piece of cake.
Onboarding is the perfect time to really get your people on board not only as functioning members of the team, but as brand advocates. Make sure to incorporate it into your onboarding process.
Remember, these new hires are the faces of your brand. Make sure they wear it well!