From Onboarding to Belonging

In this episode of the Inclusive Growth Show I talk to Chris Jones from Enboarder. Chris explains how the Enboarder digital platform creates a great onboarding experience and is crucial to creating that sense of belonging on an employee journey.

This week’s guest is Chris Jones, the Head of Customer Success for Enboarder, a software provider helping to onboard new employees. We started the conversation by me asking Chris to tell me a bit more about himself and his role at Enboarder.

‘I’m an Aussie who’s now based in London. For the last eight years, I’ve worked in the HR tech space, looking a lot at the recruitment side of that and thinking about talent attraction strategies. It’s also been about getting people into an organisation and making sure they’re prepared, they’re set up and ready to go. For the last four and a half years I’ve worked at Enboarder. I’ve worked with hundreds of companies initially looking at Australia, Asia, New Zealand. In the last three and a half years, it’s been primarily through the EMEA region. So working with them to think about strategies to get people in the door from an onboarding point of view and once they’re in, how do we help create learning frameworks and make people feel like they belong in the organisation. I get to spend a lot of time with pretty cool companies.’

I followed up by asking Chris to explain the features of Enboarder and how it works.

‘At Enboarder, we call ourselves the first People Activation Platform. What that means is it’s a high-level workflow tool based on a timeline. The features are highly customisable so when an organisation uses Enboarder, they can create these timelines of content and touchpoints. It’s based around sending communications out to employees, but also to other stakeholders in the organisation. The key thing with Enboarder is it’s very much a moment-in-time bite-sized way of sending nudges to people. So rather than expecting a manager or an employee to log into a portal or download an app, it’s very much around having these nudges sent out to employees at the right moment. It’s about getting the workforce to complete certain actions or to engage with certain content. So it’s a platform. Companies buy the software and they can customise and create whatever employee journeys they would like.

Onboarding was where we first started. Then there’s when people leave the organisation from an off-boarding perspective right through to things like internal mobility or parental leave. It’s also thinking about multigenerational and multiracial dynamics; coaching people on how they can work best with different teams, or it could even be around leadership development training and having programmes built. There’s lots that can be done. But at the heart of it, it’s very much a customisable workflow tool.’

Enboarder sounds really cool. I liked Chris’s use of the word journeys because that’s something I talk about in my book “Inclusive Growth”. The middle chapter is called “Colleague Experience and Design”, and basically I say that organisations need to think about the journeys that people go on and remove any obstacles that prevent them from completing that journey. A lot of organisations still talk about recruitment. In my book, I talk about onboarding because I think that part is often overlooked. That kind of experience of getting the job offer. You’re in limbo between your old job and your new job. You’re starting to connect with the new business that you’re going to join, and those first 100 days are crucial. It’s also important in being able to form those personal and professional networks, as well.

Yes, it’s interesting when we ask an organisation, “Do you do your employee onboarding well?”

An organisation will often reply, “Yes, we have a day one induction programme, so we do it well.” For me, it’s about what the new employee is hearing between when they sign their offer and when they join and into their first 100 days in the organisation. This is when they’re meeting people, trying to make up their mind if they’re going to stay or not. It’s something that not many organisations have nailed and it’s an interesting space.’

I asked Chris what types of organisations are using the Enboarder platforms.

‘It varies. From a customer perspective, we’ve got some of the world’s biggest brands. Some huge multinational organisations use us, but then we’ve got some start-ups and some fast-growing tech companies. It spans most industries. There’s no real vertical that we can say, “Yeah, this is the one that we go after.”

When you look at who they are at the core, no matter if they’re a huge or a small company, they all have a focus on the experience. They all want to make sure that it’s not just a checklist process. It’s also around how we’re making people feel. How we’re making people’s lives easier and feel like they belong more with whatever journey they’re going through.’

I wondered if Chris could give some idea how Enboarder clients could be using the platform for their diversity and inclusion work?

‘It’s interesting because when we look at the philosophy around diversity and inclusion programs, I think one of the key things that we see time to time again is the organisations that are doing it well. These organisations don’t see it as the icing on the cake, diversity and inclusion. It’s not something you just want to tack on. It’s something that’s baked into the process and it forms part of the whole employee life cycle. So I think that’s something where from the moment someone joins the organisation through to maybe when they’re promoted, maybe they move and revolve internally to the point when they leave, it’s all around thinking about those moments and getting those key touchpoints. So some examples within that are looking at the accessibility of the platform. When we first kick off with a customer, one of the areas we ask is how will you design your content?

We are talking about having tags on images, having the colour schemes that allow for people with visual impairment to be able to view it correctly, looking at where you’re having buttons, what your images are like. From the beginning, this forms a critical piece of what all of the content flowing down the line looks like. If you don’t think about that accessibility at the beginning, it can be a lot of work to then go and tweak and change in the long run. That design principle example is where they all start.’

Speaking to the theme of accessibility, I know from my previous chats with Chris that some organisations use your software to help facilitate workplace adjustments when new people join a company. I asked Chris to tell me a bit more about that.

‘One of the ways that our customers use the platform is that they look at getting in touch with people once they’ve accepted their offer. So it could be a month before. It could be three months. It’s a period where we have the time to get them ready. As part of the actual workflow build, what we’ve seen some more forward-thinking organisations do is put a survey or a form that goes out to that new joiner. It might ask things about adjustments that they require. The organisation can choose to either notify the manager or they could send it to the Occupational Health and Safety team or whichever team needs to know and action those things. It’s a nice way to capture those physical adjustments that might be needed.

I’ve also seen good customers of ours also putting out questions like, “How do you best work? What’s the way that you want to be managed? Are there any key things that we need to know to make sure that you have the best experience?” Then they can share that with, as I mentioned, anyone that they would like in the journey. Before an employee has even joined, we have plenty of time to ask the questions to get them set up for success. So when they arrive, everything’s ready. That’s a great experience for them.’

From personal experience, I would say it does need to be a great experience. I remember when I was joining a particular company in the past. I filled out the forms around my reasonable adjustments and I said that I needed the speech-to-text software on my laptop. It made me laugh in a way because they put me in touch with a doctor. They were outsourcing an assessment and the doctor had no idea what I was talking about. Of course, that needed to go to the IT department, not to a doctor. It was a waste of both of our time so that onboarding experience could have definitely been a lot smoother.

Chris said he’d seen this kind of getting it half-right a few times with companies. So that shows that they are thinking about it and recognise they need to do something. ‘But then the actual way that it’s managed and executed just doesn’t hit the mark. It probably makes an even worse experience than if they hadn’t even asked for it. That’s a dangerous situation for a company to put themselves in.’

Another thing that Chris and I have talked about previously is how the software helps facilitate that relationship with the new line manager and from that inclusion perspective, it helps create a sense of belonging. Since we know that belonging is one of the four pillars of inclusion, I asked Chris, ‘How does the software do that?’

‘Our philosophy when we were looking at designing the system and when we consult with companies is to hold in mind the concept of psychological safety. We think about how to create that sense of belonging whether it’s between the new hire and the manager or the new hire and the team. One of the best ways to do it is to coach people and connect people. They’re two really important things. The way we see that it works best with the platform and with companies who design it is bite-sized continuous learning and continuous nudges. For example, maybe a couple of weeks before the new joiner’s due to start at the company, a prompt might be sent to the manager that says, “Your new joiner starts in two weeks. Here is some information about them that we’ve collected previously. So they’d like to be managed this way. They need this set up in this way etc.”

It also gives the chance to connect to the new employee. Maybe saying, “Here are their contact details. It’d be great if you can give them a call and talk about some of the things here.”

There’s also the option to introduce the joiner to the team. We see a lot of organisations that will use a buddy scheme. It’s a great opportunity if we think about that kind of psychological safety and belonging. We facilitate building that connectedness before day one.’

I was curious to hear from Chris if he had any examples of great ways of using Enboarder around inclusivity that readers could take back to their organisation?

‘Absolutely, we’ve seen some incredible things. Like I said earlier, I’m quite lucky to work with some pretty cool companies. One of the biggest things is personalisation. Thinking around creating a journey that is unique to each person. It’s almost like putting a marketing hat on and a consumer-facing hat. When someone joins, they don’t just want the generic, they want to have something unique to them. We’ve seen some organisations do some great things around employee networks. So there are the initial questions and then also down the line, just saying, “What are you interested in? Are you interested in our parents at work network group? Are you interested in this group, that group?” Then depending on what an employee answers, they can be served content that can drive them to certain pages and they can join certain groups.

What I’ve liked about this is it’s not putting groups into buckets. It’s opening it up to the whole organisation and saying, these are the groups we have. Which ones of these do you want to be part of? I think it helps too when thinking about allies to all these different groups, they can become part of it, and then that helps drive that inclusiveness across the whole business. I’ve liked seeing that. It often stems from having existing programs in groups in place using the Enboarder platform to bring that to life and to drive more people to those groups. So to me, that’s, yeah, that’s been really, really exciting to see.’

Since I was talking to Chris on “The Inclusive Growth Show” I had to ask him ‘What does inclusive growth mean to you and Enboarder?’

‘More diverse and inclusive teams show higher performance, which leads to personal, professional and business growth. For me it’s all around activating everyone to be their best, to drive that personal and business growth, I’d say.

To get a feel of what it is like to go through an Enboarder experience and see some case studies of what companies have done with the platform or book a demo visit

From Onboarding to Belonging - Mildon