Onboarding and training new employees

Written by on May 9, 2019

Freshworks Academy has a community of pretty awesome people from multiple spheres of work. This shows in the varied points of view our members bring to light in discussions. We have a fortnightly discussion called Coffee Chat, to talk about various topics. This one deals with how you can onboard and train your new agents.

A company is defined by the people who work in it. They form the work culture and practices for those who come after them, and as a company grows, you need to make sure you have employees who fit in with the rest of the team. A significant part of this can be achieved by having a great onboarding process in place for your newbies. Here are the most commonly asked questions about how you can train your new employees, and what the community had to say about them.

What are some things you do to make newbies feel comfortable? If you are a remote company, what do you do differently?

Your new employee is probably nervous, excited, or feeling a mix of all these emotions. The best thing you can do is to put them at ease and make them feel comfortable. After all, the best way to become a part of a team is to feel welcomed by its members, and understand the company’s culture. Here are a few tips that you can implement to make your new employees feel included and welcome. 

You can have your new employee’s first day be a Friday. This gives them the weekend to acclimatise to the new environment and further shake off nerves. Make it a day for meets and greets, as well as setting the basics, such as their computers and workstations, along with an introduction to the tools the employee will be using. You should also talk to the newbie in person, and leave a handwritten welcome note as an extra touch. Holding a meet and greet with everyone in the team is a good idea as well. Some other key points to remember are:

  1. Make sure that they meet the people they work with. A good way to do this would be to have an employee assigned to them, to be their friend for the day.
  2. Provide them with  clear direction, by giving them goals and milestones to achieve, both professional and team-related.
  3. Use games as bonding exercises to help them fit in.
  4. One-on-one talks with the new hire will help them feel like a part of a team, and also let you know more about them. Focus on having a few non-work conversations as well.

How do you train them on your product/service, support best practices, tools, and company culture?

To ensure that your employee fits into your company, they need to understand how things work, be it the product, service, the routines of the team, the tools they use, or the company work culture. This information could be overwhelming to the employee at first.  To help them ease into it, a good idea is for them to sit in on a senior employee’s day as part of their training, to see and understand the workflow process. They could also shadow the support agents irrespective of their department, so they get familiar with the product and will also get a glimpse into your customers. 

Another great training option would be to create fake accounts for newbies to play around with, and documents like guides and checklists which they can refer to. Use-cases and pop quizzes can also be used as tools to aid the new employee. Here are some pointers for getting your employee’s training underway:

  1. Using demo accounts and guides to learn the product will prove helpful to the employee. 
  2. Filling them in with examples of the company’s culture will help the employee learn and adapt faster.
  3. Assign a special point person to the newbie, who they can contact in case of any doubts or assistance. 
  4. Provide them with channel-specific training via phone, email, and social media, to name a few.
  5. Change mentors once in two weeks so they get a chance to talk to the others on the team.

How do you train newbies on soft skills like communication, empathy, and clarity, to name a few?

While making sure that your new hire is well versed with the product/service is essential, it is just as vital to ensure that they have a good grip on soft skills. You can do this by giving newbies some collated tips and practices which more experienced employees use. Focus on one or two concepts at a time. You can even make a training video for them, and afterward, you can try solving the issue together with the newbie, and then shadow them while they try to solve things on their own.

Here are some more ideas for you to incorporate:

  1. Focus on a few areas in detail rather than trying to cover too much in a very quick span of time. 
  2. Shadowing senior agents can be a good way to learn on the job.
  3. Make your agents feel like they are a part of the group. Ice breakers will help them relax in a new environment, induce empathy, and enhance the business culture of the company.

Do you think a formal training program is necessary? Why/why not?

Training is essential for an employee. However, the question arises – how formal and standardized should the training be? Our community believes that it is necessary, and that consistency is key. Something regimented is probably a good idea, such as a set of goals and the ways to establish them.

Here are some ideas about formal training for your employees:

  1. For a company which is growing, a formal training program is a much-needed asset to provide continuous learning.
  2. It is needed in a complex environment with rules and guidelines, but unnecessary in an area that needs more of a human approach. There should also be consistency in learning.
  3. There has to be some kind of tracking mechanism. For teams which are closely knit, you can use documented training and a knowledge base to train your employees better.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your training?

While you might think your training is great, it may have its own disadvantages and flaws. You need to have a way to ensure that it is effective, and make sure that you gauge the degree of effectiveness as well. You should have a tangible  list of things your newbie can take up and accomplish as a result of having undergone the training.

Feedback forms are a great way to scrutinize what the new employee has learned, as well as know what could be included in the training to help them further, especially with any specific needs they might have. Ongoing assessments, worksheets, and scenarios to help check the employees’ learnings, can help you assess how effective your training was.  Here are a few pointers for you:

  1. Use pop quizzes to judge how much the new hire has learned.
  2. Get their feedback as to what they felt was missing in the training.
  3. Peer feedback is also useful to judge how well an employee has been trained.

What are some qualities that you cannot train agents on (that you should probably look for while hiring)?

When you’re hiring an agent, you need to try and identify some intrinsic personality traits which will make it easier to mould them into a model employee. Here’s a list of the qualities our members valued most:

  1. The ability to communicate and talk to others
  2. Empathy
  3. Being a natural helper
  4. Being a team player and enthusiastic in nature
  5. The will to learn more, even if initially clueless

New employees will shape the future of your company and its culture. Thus, it is important for you to ensure they get the best training across all spheres. Let us know how you achieve this, and if you found our tips helpful!

Want to be a part of awesome discussions like this? Join the Freshworks Academy today – you’ll gain access to our community, plus quality courses and content for free! So, join up today!

Kaavya Karthikeyan

Binge reader. Gaming addict. Coffee connoisseur. Feminist. Jedi Master in the Freshworks Academy team.