How we use email automation to onboard new employees

Several months ago, the customer support team here at Campaign Monitor sat down to discuss our performance. Like many of our meetings, it was filled with good discussion, ideas, and laughter. We have a strong bond that allows us to share ideas openly, and typically we are the first to notice areas we can improve on.

At this meeting, though, there was a surprising admission. One brave team member spoke up first, but then several agreed with her that they’d been genuinely scared of losing their jobs in the early months of their Campaign Monitor careers.

This came as a shock, at least for our team leader. We have lots in place to make our employees comfortable — A chef that serves delicious meals, a comfortable budget to set up your office and a monthly team meetup to have a bit of fun together.

Yet even with all this in place, people were lacking confidence upon job entry, feeling like they weren’t getting enough done, or weren’t contributing to the team. They described it not only as a lack of knowledge, but also as feeling worried about asking for help.

Instead of feeling the camaraderie and openness that comes with months together, they felt like outsiders.

Of course, this was not our goal; we wanted our new team members to feel included and valued from day one.

So we set out to change the way we approached being new. Instead of assuming that people would just “get” our culture, we looked at ways we could envelop them into Campaign Monitor culture from the very start.

We set ourselves some goals:

  • To build confidence by introducing them to the team dynamic before they even started.
  • Give them simpler access to the tools and knowledge that they needed; and help them know when they are meeting the expectations of their role.

To do this, we implemented two new practices:

The Accomplice System

The first problem we sought to tackle was a newcomer’s lack of knowledge about team goals and communication styles. And rather than have an employee take time to witness that there is no dumb question — that they can approach any of us — we’d rather them have the knowledge upfront.

Thus came the accomplice system. Each new person would be partnered up with an experienced team member as soon as they signed a contract. This accomplice would be available to answer any questions they may have.

So by the time our new starter arrived, they’d have been closely in touch with one peer on their team for weeks, and would continue to do so throughout their first month.

Assigning a specific member of the team to help with questions reduces the emotional stress of interrupting a busy team member; they know they are able to ask questions to their accomplice because they are told they should.

The accomplice would work to diminish any common fears. Got newcomer anxiety? Let’s relieve it! Not sure if we’re Mac or PC focused? The accomplice knows! Need to know the best in-flight sleep aid for your trip to Sydney? Well, there may not be a team consensus on that one.

Though before, people may have felt as though they were disturbing their group with “silly” questions, now they had someone they can count on to help guide the way. This helped them get on their feet within their role, and even got them more familiar with the team. Veteran staff also benefited — they got to learn more about the product and themselves.

Pre-start onboarding emails

Backing up the accomplice system, we added a series of pre-start emails. Coming over to Sydney for your first days on the job can be exciting — but also nerve wracking. How do you know not to pack a lunch or bring your three-piece suit? Though these things can become clear after a few days on the job, being told in advance makes it a lot easier.

So we decided to build a way to reach our employees before the nerves of a new job even started to kick in. Instead of the occasional check in from a manager seeing how they were going, we built autoresponders aimed to address common worries of new employees.

A new employee would receive one email a week, beginning three weeks before the start date.

Week One

The first email would aim to show a bit of office humor. It would introduce the tone we use with each other and our customers, as well as introduce their buddy and manager. It invited them to loosen up and relieve the nerves, and give them a person to point questions to — again inviting them to get rid of anxieties.

Week Two

Week two would discuss what office life is like, as well as introduce some things to do while visiting Sydney. Happy employees mean our customers are being taken care of, and we can work to ensure our employees feel taken care of both inside and outside of the work place.

Week Three

The third autoresponder gave the final bits of information needed for day one. Giving the train route to the office from the hotel, what time to arrive, and how to dress relieved those final “what ifs,” allowing the employee to get comfortable right before their big flight.

The autoresponders would then continue when the employee started, inviting them to use handy tools and get to know the team through our book clubs, physical training regimens, and day-to-day activities. As a collective, the emails worked to welcome employees to the company culture, introduce them to helpful tools and documents, and familiarize them with the team.

The results

We’re happy to say that with these new initiatives in place, our newest team members expressed feelings of comfort and confidence in their new roles. We even received amazing feedback from one of our newcomers:

Got a lovely email from my accomplice already. You guys have got this onboarding thing down! I feel so welcomed!

It only took a few small changes to our onboarding process, but we’re now helping make our new employees feel at home straight away.

In conclusion

Employees are a critical asset to your business, and they should feel happy and secure in their jobs immediately. This is not only good for their health and well-being; it will benefit your business as well. Studies often show that happy employees are more productive within their roles.

By setting up an automated series of emails that go out to new employees before they start, you can educate them on your company culture and give them the information they need to hit the ground running.

So let us know what’s happening in your workplace! What are you doing to make your employees feel confident and comfortable within their roles? Could your organization benefit from sending autoresponders to your new employees?