How we do new hire onboarding at Versett

Starting a new gig can be stressful. The processes are different, there’s a bunch of new faces, projects are midstream, and you don’t even know where the bathroom is yet.

As a growing company, it’s our job to get these first few months right. It’s an evolving process, so we like to ask the newbies about their experience and how we can improve.

Here is what they had to say about it so far.

Omid Fakourfar, User Researcher

Working as part of the V// family has been a great experience so far. Coming directly out of academia with a background in Human Computer Interaction research, I was always worried that my skills and experience might not transfer to the industry. I was also kind of disappointed with the fact that very few small-to-mid-sized companies appreciated the value of research. In my view, research not only helps product teams evolve their current projects (by providing valuable insights gathered from user testing sessions), but also helps shape the future direction of the company. This is actually the path that many big Silicon Valley companies have taken and proven its success.
 
 Reflecting on my past two months at V//, I can say:

  1. I absolutely fell in love with the culture of the company. Everybody is super open and willing to help. We have great designers and developers and I’m already looking forward to expanding my skill set in design and development with their help. Oh, and did I mention that we have Friday team lunches where nobody talks about work-related stuff?
  2. As mentioned earlier, my background has mostly been in academia. However, I feel that the transition to the industry is going very smoothly. I was placed directly into a real project right away; plus, I was allowed to make my own mark by defining a research project and (hopefully) presenting V// in the research world.
  3. There are great opportunities for personal development within the company. We have Kindle readers that employees can borrow and explore the books in our digital library. There is also no need to worry about hardware or software subscriptions. I needed an iPhone and a mobile user testing kit and those were provided right away!
  4. Employees are encouraged to propose and pitch their own ideas through V// Alpha projects, even if there is no client for them at the moment. This is another thing that I really appreciate. I even like to take it to next level by thinking about futuristic research projects and collaborations with university teams because “I don’t want the current state of technology to limit our creativity”. It really feels like the sky is the limit.

Brett Eveson, Engineer

I had never given much thought to the onboarding process before starting with Versett. Looking back at my past onboarding experiences, maybe I should have because it really makes a difference in establishing a positive atmosphere in a place you will spend the next few years.
 
I believe the onboarding process begins well before the first day you show up for work. It begins when you have accepted, or during the acceptance of, the position you have applied for. The first thing I was given after accepting the job was a slew of links to the things that make up the culture at Versett. I was informally introduced to the whole team, invited to read the team OKR’s, and join the Slack channel, all before I knew what half the team even looked like. This preview of what I was going to experience on my first day reduced the stress of that day considerably. Where normally I was scared of what to expect when meeting a bunch of new people, I was excited to see how what I had read translated into real life.
 
As diminished as my first day jitters were, I was still nervous about arriving that morning. This, too, was smoothed out by a welcome package and a place to sit with a computer set up and ready to go (this may seem trivial but at my last job I had to sit at someone else’s desk until a space was setup for me, which I did myself). The fact that I was expected and my showing up was anticipated went a long way in me feeling like I was wanted there, which in turn made me want to be there. One other thing I liked with my onboarding experience was lunch with my key points of contact. In the past I have had lunch with the whole team, which is great but can be a little intimidating. A smaller group makes it more about taking you out for lunch as opposed to the team going out for lunch and you are the reason.
 
The other thing that made a difference to me is that it didn’t feel like I was the subject of an HR policy. It felt natural and authentic, and those are the kind of people I can relate to and work with for years to come.

Terrence Coonan, Product Manager

Onboarding new employees should be considered an art form. I say this because every company does it, but very few do it well. When I was asked to write down a few thoughts about the onboarding process at Versett, it gave me a chance to reflect on my past experiences and a topic that is often overlooked. The longer I thought about it, the more I realized just how key this process is to achieving early success and positivity in a new work environment. I will admit I’ve been on both sides of the coin having gone through some good and bad onboarding processes. During those first days, weeks, and even months on the job, a company has the ability to create a true brand ambassador and give each employee the confidence and resources to do the best work of their career. In my experience, very few have taken advantage of this.

Stepping into a new office on your first day, whether for a big company or a small one, can be a very intimidating thing. First impressions are hard to come back from, and can often leave negative feelings in your gut that will set you back right from the beginning. If a new employee is doubting their decision before they get deep into the weeds, this will undoubtably affect the work and overall inclusion in the office culture. Versett, on the other hand, to quote a famous movie, “had me at Hello”. The onboarding process for me began before I even signed on the dotted line to become an official member of the Versett team. Every interview and meeting I had started and ended with a discussion. We would talk career paths and trajectories, what was going on in the digital space, new and emerging technologies, and most importantly, what I was looking for in my role with the company. This had a huge impact on me, not only because I was free to share my ideas, but because I knew my ideas and way of thinking aligned with the leadership group. I would leave every meeting with such positive vibes and confidence that Versett was the right fit, and knew I would give everything I have to be a part of its success right from day one.
 
So when my first day came and I stepped into the office, there was no fear, anxiety or intimidation. I knew we were all rowing in the same direction already. That sense of calm has allowed me to speak up early and often, ask important questions, and not just hit the ground running, but be confident while I do it. Versett set me up for success right from the beginning, which I know will benefit the whole team in the long run.

(Editor’s note: Terrence brought the team a box of artisanal doughnuts on his first day. The way to our hearts is through carbs. 😉)

Each new hire is a new opportunity

Everyone will have a different experience on their first day at the company, and it’s our job to smooth out the wrinkles and make it as enjoyable as possible.

We have a constantly evolving process based on feedback from each member of the team, but the real goal is about making each person feel welcomed and included. It’s not about the swag or the latest technology–it’s about providing a setting where you can do the best work of your career, and that starts on the first day.