Let’s onboard new staff effectively

Failure to acclimate new staff quickly and efficiently creates confusion & kills productivity

At Terrapin Works, we hire new staff members fairly regularly. As we’ve grown as a sort of sub-department within the University of Maryland’s engineering college, the amount of tools and processes needed for an efficient workflow has increased drastically.

Along with this, we’ve found the need to develop an onboarding process for our new hires that works. The number of tools that we use to get work done on a daily basis is ever increasing, leading to a ton of confusion for new hires without a proper introduction to our processes and methods.

I’ve decided to compile a guide of sorts on the onboarding process we’ve established at Terrapin Works, in the hopes that it will assist both our new hires and countless other people at organizations around the globe.

Our secret to onboarding


It’s quite simple actually. After a new employee is hired, we have them visit a Typeform that we’ve designed especially for the onboarding process.

Gather relevant information

We use the first section of the Typeform to gather basic information from our new hires. Even though we already have that info from the hiring process, it’s not easily available through our business office. Because of this, we grab the important details again. This makes setting up their various accounts an easier process.

You may not need to do this as a part of your onboarding process, but it simplifies our workflow and gives all of our staff access to new hire data immediately.

Give them one thing to remember

Since we use a ton of web-based tools in our workflow at Terrapin Works, throwing these at new hires all at once is bound to cause unbearable amounts of stress. Not to mention they’ll forget everything they read.

To solve this, we have a portal that has links to all of our tools. We ask new hires to remember one web address, portal.terrapin.works (you’re welcome to browse here, however it’s behind campus authentication so I’m sorry to report you’ll be unable to access it).

Here’s a picture that should sate your curiosity

Walk them through the tools & what they’re used for

After you ask them to remember that one thing, walk them through the rest of the tools. Tell new hires where the tools are located, how they can gain access, and what they should use them for.

If they’re able to, have them sign up for the core tools during this process. For example, we introduce our new hires to our Slack during onboarding. Since the web address opens in a new window or tab, they can come back and continue the onboarding process after they’ve signed up.

This is the part of the onboarding process they might forget, so be sure to have this information compiled into a separate document that they can reference after they’ve finished the entire onboarding process.

After the initial onboarding process

Be sure to provide them with a copy of the latter part of the onboarding process that they can refer back to in the future, a Google Doc works well for this purpose. I cannot stress this enough.

Getting new hires access to the core tools in your organization during the onboarding process provides a solid foundation to build upon as they work on acclimating to the other tools used in your daily workflow.

Since we immediately put our new hires on Slack, they’re immediately part of the internal communication and can seek help if needed. For less-used tools like our machine scheduling system (used by a few employees who manage our higher-end machines), we’ll go into greater depth when they need to begin accessing the system regularly.

Hopefully you’ve found this guide to be somewhat helpful in your endeavors to create a worthwhile and effective onboarding process for new hires. Thanks for reading! — Nick

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