On the Importance of First Impressions: The True Story Behind Employee Onboarding at Teamleader

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At Teamleader, we believe that it’s more than just common courtesy to make new colleagues feel welcome. Think of it this way: we all know that the first impression during a job interview has a huge impact on the chances of being hired later on. In the same way, the first few weeks at a new company are largely decisive in the new employee's decision to commit for the longer term.

If we want people to stay, it’s of crucial importance that they feel at home straight away. That’s why we devote a full week to the onboarding of newcomers; five days during which they attend (no less than 20) hands-on introduction sessions, get to know the team and ease into their new role.

We decided to interview the latest batch of new recruits together with some members of the onboarding team to hear both sides of the story.

Meet the newbies

Hi Evlien, Sonal and Gökhan!

Sooooo, be honest, how did you experience the onboarding week?

Evlien: I started my career at Teamleader with a full week of digital onboarding. From the start I got a really good impression. My work materials were delivered right at my doorstep. Besides the usual and necessary stuff (laptop, keyboard etc.) I also received some cool Teamleader merch (water bottle, laces, stickers…). So I had everything to get started. The open communication and structured organisation made my onboarding a pleasant experience. 10/10, would recommend.

Sonal: In fact, my onboarding week began a week after I officially started working at Teamleader. I really feel that the particular combination of a week of meeting colleagues followed by a formal onboarding provided me with a burst of energy, curiosity, the proper context and engagement. The onboarding week itself felt like an organic way of getting to know the organisation. For my particular role, I can say that I could contextually place every team and department around me. I learnt what all efforts are going on behind the day-to-day scenes.

Gökhan: I expected that there would be a lot to discover, but still the amount of information to process in one week was pretty intense. That being said, the onboarding week went super smoothly and was tremendously interesting. Also having an idea about what other departments do was helpful to understand my own place within the organization better.

What first impression did you get from the company, the team?

Evlien: During the onboarding week we had sessions from all the different departments on a various number of topics. All onboarders where really enthusiastic and took time out of their busy schedule to give us an intro to their domain. You could feel and see they’re all really passionate about what they do at Teamleader. Everyone was really friendly, approachable and driven.

Sonal: My first impression of my brand-new colleagues can be described by three words: driven, talented and kind. I saw a bunch of people and teams who take pride in what they do. I felt that every team creates impact.

Gökhan: That Teamleader is a product-driven company with a clear vision. I noticed that all teams are self-organised and committed to the company's goals. From day one, I immediately felt a very positive energy, which also gave me extra motivation.

How did you experience digital onboarding? Was it weird, difficult in any way?

Evlien: A digital onboarding has its advantages and disadvantages. When you come to the office for onboarding in real life, you get everything at once: new office, new people, new job,… which can be a bit intense. With the remote onboarding I was gently immersed into the Teamleader world, step by step. This allowed me to gradually adapt to the new job, colleagues and company. Since we’ve been doing the online thing for a while now I was already used to hearing ‘Can you see my screen?’ and ‘I think you are on mute’. So it was not weird at all.

Sonal: The digital part of it was what I was secretly dreading on the Sunday before my first day of onboarding. Finally, it turned out to be a positive experience. I have nothing to compare it against - so my impression of it is pretty positive. But I do feel that, as a bunch of more than 10 people who started together, we would have had a lot more fun, established some key memories and relationships if we'd done the onboarding together physically. Nevertheless, 2 months later, I do still have a slightly closer bond with the people I started with.

Gökhan: Of course, digital onboarding sounds less interesting when you compare it to being at the office physically, meeting in person and having direct conversations without any lag or low resolution. However, all the meetings and activities we did throughout the onboarding week were easy to follow thanks to well-prepared presentations and great presenters!

What do you look forward to most now that you’re fully onboarded and your Teamleader career begins?

Evlien: I’m most looking forward to being part of something bigger than myself and working towards a common goal. To be honest, I also can’t wait to try all the different dishes the Kitchen Team will prepare for us.

Sonal: I am brimming with a positive energy and curiosity about what lies ahead. I want to constructively contribute and learn from this powerful community of people. I believe in collaboration and as a product manager, I really value diverse feedback, diverse experiences of the various teams operating together in Teamleader. I am looking forward to making 2022 a great year for our company. I already feel connected to my team - who have welcomed me with open arms and really make me feel a part of it all.

Gökhan: There’s still so much to discover. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to say that I’m ‘fully onboarded’, though. The domain I work in is huge and we still have tons of challenges ahead. But I like the fact that we’re all in the same boat: we all want to help our customers work smarter.

Meet the onboarders

Hi Robin, Astrid and Naomi!

Do you remember your own onboarding at Teamleader?

Robin: I don't remember my onboarding at Teamleader because I was never onboarded. I joined Teamleader back in 2015 - I know, that's a long time ago - and I pretty much started working straight way.

Astrid: I loved my onboarding week cause it was really nice to get to know the other newbies starting in the same month as me. Also getting to know the people giving the intro sessions and their departments. And look at me now, I'm an onboarder myself! During the onboarding week, I remember we had to process a lot of information. But what I remember most of all is that most sessions were really interactive and fun. We also got an assignment which we had to finish in the first week. We had to present (in an original way) all the stuff we learned. We ended up making a website with different blog posts about the intro sessions. With our group of newbies, we put lots of effort into this website. This definitely created a bond and we ended up going out for dinner on Friday to celebrate the end of our onboarding week.

Naomi: Yes I will never forget that experience. Because I was one of the lucky ones who had their onboarding in Paris as we just opened our first office at La Fayette.

Has the onboarding process changed since?

Robin: As said, I am such an old Troglodyte that I predate the onboarding process. So yes, the employee onboarding process has most certainly changed since. A total 180 degree turn, incomparable even!

Astrid: Due to corona we had to organize the intro sessions remotely for quite time. I do think it's much more difficult to create a connection between the newbies but also between the onboarders. so I'm very glad that we can now return to a live format as much as possible. Even though we did put a lot of effort into making the remote onboarding as pleasant as possible. Something we also do these days is making sure all newbies receive their starter package one week upfront so they have time to adjust to their new tools and already feel fired up to kick off their Teamleader career.

Naomi: Yes, it certainly has changed. As Astrid said, we had to give a lot of intro sessions online due to covid, which was challenging. At the same time, this forced us to give a creative spin to our presentations.

According to you, is a full week of intro sessions really necessary?

Robin: Difficult to say if you've never lived it. One could assume it's quite demanding. I sometimes see some weary faces in my session, which is probably because it's usually scheduled more towards the end of the week. That's why interactivity is key. We also try to coordinate the different intro sessions to avoid repetition as much as possible.

Astrid: In my opinion: yes. I'm a super big fan of this week. I know it's a lot of information to capture but it's the perfect week to sit down, take it all in, and focus on getting to know the company and its people. You'll never get a new chance like this in your Teamleader career. So my advice would be: buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Naomi: I think it’s a lot of information in one week, but it's extremely valuable. I also like to invite my current team members to an introduction session. I've learned that repeating the theory after people have done the job for some time helps them understand the theory better.

How did you experience having to give the intro session digitally? Was it harder in any way?

Robin: I have to admit, it has been quite challenging. The usual onboarding session is very interactive and I’m having a really hard time to create that same involvement digitally. It’s just not the same, I really prefer the real life experience.

Astrid: It was totally different. In the beginning, I missed the connection and interaction. It felt like a one-way communication for a complete hour. After 2 times giving my session remotely, I used fewer slides and started asking more questions to the newbies to keep them engaged. I also stopped sharing my screen once in a while to get a face to face talk going. Much better!

Naomi: Yes, it was harder. It’s nicer to do it face to face. But I tried to make the best out of it and looked for creative ways to keep the attention high. I liked the fact that you have the faces of all newbies attending in one screen. So their facial expressions are really clear in one view which makes it easier and sometimes funny to react to it ;)

Do you like giving the intro session? Why or why not?

Robin: Quite honestly, I've given the session so many times that it's not always easy to do it with the same energy every single time. But I do try to find ways to keep the session up to date and interesting for both the newbies and myself. Most importantly, after each session, I enjoy having done it because I got to know the new colleagues.

Astrid: I really like giving the session. For me it's the perfect way to make sure people feel welcomed and that they are up and running asap. The better I do, the better people know their way around the office. However I definitely feel that my session wasn't making that much impact during Corona cause lots of things I tell them in this session is about the office, requesting travel... Things that weren't relevant at the moment. But I had to tell them anyway cause when they would come to the office they need to know practical things. So I'm really looking forward to physical onboardings now everything's pretty much back to normal!

Naomi: Yes I do, the newbies are really open and interested. It’s nice to meet new people who are excited to work for Teamleader.

What intro session is still missing from the onboarding week’s agenda?

Astrid: I think we have all topics covered and it would be overkill to add another intro session. However, I'm convinced we can go more in-depth during certain sessions.

Naomi: An intro to ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance), especially now that we have an internal work group on these topics. It would also be nice to have newbies meet a personal buddy from another department.

Okay, that will be all. Thank you for your honest feedback and your time. Now back to work!