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What company-hopping taught me about on-boarding

By December 6, 2018 No Comments

Sitting down on my first day at Abracademy looking at a magic wand to my right and vanishing pens to my left. It made it wonder what makes an on-boarding experience magical? After all it’s not every day a team meeting starts with a magic trick…

Since graduating from Kaospilots, I’ve jumped from company to company. Not always because I wanted to! Sometimes circumstances have led me to move countries or a project comes to an end. As a result, I’ve immersed myself in different company cultures and have experienced the different types of on-boarding. Now I felt it was time to share is what I’ve learned!

Many see job-hopping as a bad thing, not something to highlight on my CV. They may think I haven’t deepened my domain knowledge, climbed the ladder or gotten to know every employee along the way. But for me, it has been a privilege.

I’ve met amazing people. I’ve had the opportunity to compare places and cherry pick what I like, and dislike, about each. Observing different managers and leaders has taught me what kind of leader I want to be. Seeing everyday acts that tell the story of the culture has created a very clear picture for me. For example, what little things I can do to change or anchor something about the culture I’m in.

As I have experienced everything from horrendous onboarding to mind blowing acts of genuine caring, I know how important it is to welcome people into a company.

If you want to make a good impression on new employees, here’s what I think works and what doesn’t work.


  • On their first day, find a way to surprise your employee. You could perhaps greet them at the train station with a coffee for them. Think about where their first work day starts – at the company door or their own door?! This could be overwhelming or impractical for some of course, but if it works, it tells an amazing story.
  • Try to find out their likes and dislikes, and create a personalized starter pack. Are they vegans? What music do they like? Get them slippers for the office! I guarantee you this will be appreciated.
  • Make sure everyone in the office knows their name, when they start and, if possible, share a photo of them so people know what they look like. Lots of companies use ID cards like the ones you can get from https://instantcard.net/ to help with this. I saw a hotel review on Hotels.com once, where guests are made to feel like the hotel has waited for them for 150 years… be that hotel! Make your new employee feel like you’ve been waiting for them.
  • Give them an easy task to complete on their first day of work, perhaps an ongoing challenge or tradition that you have in the company. Make it fun though, don’t make it seem like dirty work!


  • Overload them with information. They probably won’t register most of it. The first day is all about first impressions so make them count.
  • Underwhelm or neglect them. You might as well ignore them. A new employee doesn’t need to reflect for two hours after lunch. They need to feel taken care of, safe and seen by colleagues.
  • Make it short, the onboarding process often takes a couple of weeks, even if the process isn’t as intense as the beginning. Checking in on your new employee is important and you can even ask them to evaluate their onboarding process.

Make onboarding important. I think we can all agree that new employees need to feel a strong sense of belonging to stay and invest in your company, while you invest in them. The first impression should be made to last – it represents the company. Ask yourself how you can be different. Design an onboarding process that mirrors your values and at the same time puts the employee at the heart of it. You obviously want to pick employees that will represent your company in a positive light, that is why checking out their background and verifying their work history using companies like Checkr can be a positive step in the right direction when checks need to be administered. Their first impression and yours needs to work for the both of you.

Time to put words into action

During my time at Abracademy, I am looking into ways to make on-boarding more magical for companies and organisations. To unlock an employee’s full potential from their first day. That’s where you come in! I would love to hear your stories about your on-boarding experiences, good or bad.

Tell me about your on-boarding experience

Share your story!

Mina Hesar
Business & Process Designer