FORUM CREDIT UNION:
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
No. of employees: 350
Business: Financial services
Before—Orientation, Not Onboarding
Four years ago, new hires spent their first t wo days at FORUM
trudging through a tedious orientation. “It was a lot of lectures and a lot of paperwork,” says MeChelle Callen,
SHRM-SCP, vice president of organizational development. “It had nothing to do with our culture.”
In 2013, company leaders decided it was time to
change. “We wanted to reiterate, ‘This is who
we are, this is what we do, and this is the culture
you’re joining,’ while making the process fun and
interesting,” Callen says. They devised a seven-day
program called “Connections” that incorporates games
designed to engage new hires while teaching them about the
company and building relationships with their peers.
The Game of (Financial) Life
Teams face off in a life-size board game that teaches them
about the credit union’s products and services. New hires
must make financial decisions based on where they land on
the board. For example, one space gives a team the option
to put $100 into a health savings account. But before the
team decides, one member reads aloud the
definition of a health savings account. “It lets
employees learn about our products in a fun
way, and we’ve found they’re able to retain
the information better than if we just handed
out brochures,” Callen says.
New hires play “Project FORUMway” to
learn about the company’s dress code. They MeChelle Callen
1. START EARLY
Don’t wait until an employee’s first day to
start onboarding, says business consultant
Doris Sims Spies. Instead, give new hires as
much information as possible in advance (for
example, the employee handbook and benefits paperwork) so you don’t have to waste
time with it in person. Just make sure you
give employees the chance to ask questions
about these documents on day one.
2. PREVIEW THE PROGRAM
Provide employees with an “onboarding
road map”—a brief overview of the weeks
and months ahead—so they’ll know what to
expect, says Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM
Group Inc., a South Florida-based training
and HR consulting firm.
means all new employees can begin to work within 45 minutes
of arriving because all of their systems and devices have been set
up before they report for their first day.
But you don’t have to go to Silicon Valley’s major players to
find businesses with unique onboarding programs. Leaders at
Suffolk Construction, a national construction firm based in Boston, invite entry-level hires to participate in a variety of team-building exercises, including rowing the Charles River together.
New employees at Bedgear, a Farmingdale, N. Y.-based manufacturer of performance bedding, take a walking tour of downtown
Manhattan to visit other retailers that sell customized products,
including Warby Parker and Samsung.
These kinds of group activities can enable new employees
to work together more effectively, Bradt says. They also help
co-workers bond—and studies show that workplace friendships
can increase job satisfaction, boost productivity and strengthen
commitment to a company, while decreasing stress and turnover.
( A 2013 Gallup poll found that close work friendships boost
employee satisfaction by 50 percent and that people with a best
friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their
The four case studies highlighted here show how smaller companies are rolling out the red carpet with creative practices for
engaging new hires in their cultures and teams. Use their stories
as inspiration—and a source of ideas—for creating or reshaping
your own program.
5 WAYS TO IMPROVE
You only have one opportunity
to make a great first impression. Here are five strategies
to enhance your company’s