Startups innovative ways to make new joinees feel at home

A software professional who recently joined consumer lending startup MoneyTap as a senior Android developer was taken aback when asked New joinees feel at home to recount the most embarrassing incident from his life at an all-hands meeting during his first week at work.

He told them about the time when as a newly married man, he had to introduce his wife to a friend and realised her name had just slipped his mind.

Recounting embarrassing stories helps employees let their guard down, said Anuj Kacker, co-founder of Bengaluru-based MoneyTap. “We’ve found that this is a great way to also break the ice with them, making their initiation more fun that they would have imagined,” he told ET.

At Bengaluru-based real estate portal NoBroker, new employees are asked to track down senior heads of teams like product and engineering, introduce themselves, and click selfies with them.

A rising number of new-age companies are experimenting with their initiation activities for new employees and are making a conscious effort to bring in a fun element to what would otherwise be a humdrum process-oriented day.

At NoBroker, new employees are also asked to go on a ‘scavenger hunt’, and find specific locations in the office, like the wall of appreciation, the suggestion box, the servicing bay, etc.

“These are great ways for them to not only meet more people on their first day itself, but also quickly familiarise themselves with the structure and layout of our two-storeyed office,” its co-founder Amit Agarwal said.

The main idea, he said, is to consciously move away from a ‘formal’ first day and not overload new joinees with too much procedural work; instead bringing in a feel-good factor into their initiation.

Jappreet Sethi, chief executive of YoStartups, which provides consultation services to startups, said, “Startups who complete the onboarding paperwork before employees join have an edge over those who don’t, because they help new joinees feel welcome on the very first day itself. Such camaraderie-building initiatives also help to arrest early-stage attrition because employees feel more connected to the company.”

Millennials don’t want to be drowned in paperwork on their first day; they want to be provided avenues to get to know their team members better on an informal basis, Sethi said.

At Pune-based talent assessment and capability building company Jombay, new joinees are given a list of ten clients and asked to make cold calls to them, setting up an appointment with at least one. This, according to cofounder Suruchi Wagh, puts them in a spot and helps them appreciate the idea of customer centricity and what the process of interacting with clients entails.

“It’s a great way for them to hit the ground running without being bogged down by unnecessary processes on their first day, and in the process, we’ve been privy to some funny goofups,” she said.

Case in point: new employees getting names and particulars of colleagues wrong, or even confusing the description of one product with another, all this while on the phone with a client.

At furniture and home decor startup Urban Ladder, employees must recount their favourite film dialogue — exactly in the same style in which it’s said in the movie — to cofounders Rajiv Srivatsa and Ashish Goel. “We also encourage new employees to meet at least 20 people from the team, and ask them to find out their favourite cuisine and music, and what they like to do,” said Srivatsa. “This helps to build a better level of engagement beyond just talking about work-related things.”

Heavily process-driven orientations for new employees no longer work because millennials want a fun element, Srivatsa said. “They like opportunities to loosen up and settle in better, and it’s up to new-age companies to create offbeat initiations that make this possible,” he said.

Activities like these are only possible when the team size is small or moderate, YoStartups’s Sethi said. “As a startup builds scale it may become difficult to drive these programmes, and the onus is on them to figure out ways to get creative with initiations without compromising on the personal interactions,” he said.

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