Salesforce: Striking the right balance between employee onboarding and retention

Flying to San Francisco to get yourself welcomed into your new company is one of the most lucrative ways of onboarding new hires. Not all companies invest so much in onboarding. Perhaps, this is the additive to streamlining the onboarding process of 600 employees every month @ Salesforce. 

If you’re a company that’s planning on expanding your employee base or at least on an ongoing basis, you must know these quick hacks from Salesforce, one of the largest SaaS companies in the world that’s expanding incredibly while still winning the employee retention game. In fact, in 2018, Salesforce was named as the #1 Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for!

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“Becoming Salesforce” is the new-hire cultural immersion program, which every employee is required to attend within their first 90 days. It’s a full-day experience featuring fireside chats with executives, values-focused breakout sessions, and volunteer projects in local communities. 

As the new hires fly to San Francisco, their first day is what they would’ve barely imagined. Salesforce focuses on fostering the culture of volunteerism in its employees as the company itself works and lives by the 1-1-1 concept. The new hires are taken around the streets of San Francisco where they are free to help the locals there. Certainly, this fosters a sense of purpose beyond just business among the employees. Of course, this kind of emotional hold that Salesforce has on its employees is one of the reasons for the employees to latch on to the company’s beliefs and principles.

On the initial days of onboarding, your new hires are brimming with energy, craving to learn new, and more. As Salesforce welcomes its new hires, the first thing that it does is to leverage and channelize this energy by setting the context for their new job. 

Salesforce absolutely loves using technology to bits. If you could automate the automatable portions of your onboarding that requires less to no human interaction, then why not? Salesforce plunges into the next few days of onboarding new hires by introducing various tools and technologies to them. 

And, how do they do this? 

Leveraging technology to wear multiple hats

By using Chatter — the internal collaboration tool, employees and departments can communicate with one another. New employees can follow seasoned company top performers to share best practices. Join conversations and tag content they like. With Chatter, every employee can have visibility into what each department is doing and what their peers are working on. Besides using this tool just internally, employees can also use it to start a conversation with the customers and also ensure that their systems are communicating with each other.

Different folks, different strokes. Salesforce also uses technology to personalize the entire onboarding process. Instead of swamping their new hires with tons of information on their first day, they slowly drip out key information at the right time via a year-long, automated, personalized New employee welcome email campaign. It starts seven days before the employee’s start date, helping to ease those first-day jitters. The data from the employee help desk and Chatter communities is used to inform the content. The consistent 90% open rate has substantiated that this type of personalized campaign does work well.

The employees are also encouraged to write and publish their work goals within the first 90-days of joining the company using a business planning tool called V2MOM. This is not just done to drive alignment but also to enable employees to find unique ways of understanding and serving a greater purpose.

Also, the new hires are provided access to Trailhead.com, an ingeniously used internal training tool. Based on the roles and responsibilities of the new hire, they are made to take up 2-week interactive coursework.

New Hire Wizard Provisioning App

Instead of filling out clunky paperwork, Salesforce uses a simple app for provisioning equipment, access, training, and space for their new hires. It’s accessible on any device, predictive, and can send push notifications to the hiring manager if they’re about to miss a deadline. Most importantly — no paperwork! Yes, Paperless onboarding ensures everyone gets what they need on their first day, but it also saves hiring managers’ time and energy so they can get back to their day jobs faster.

Besides just automating the whole onboarding process, Salesforce also introduces the concept of ‘Trail Guide’ — a peer mentor, who will be the confidant alias go-to person for the new hire thus humanizing the process.

Inspiring new hires

Imagine, as a new hire, you get addressed by the CEO himself? What more can you ask for?

Well, Salesforce does this right on their first day of onboarding. Don’t we all feel a profound sense of connection with the company when we hear from the leaders themselves?

Getting them involved, creatively

Salesforce is social. So are its strategies. During the onboarding, the new hires are expected to come up with creative ways of using social platforms both inside and outside of the business. Such as, how to creatively use Chatter, Twitter, Facebook, etc, to increase customer engagement and satisfaction. On successfully presenting the idea to some of the top-level executives, they earn certification on Social Enterprise post completing it.

Post learning the profound importance of philanthropy inside Salesforce, some of the Senior Leadership Teams talk to the new hires about their roles, company-wide topics, and driving some Q&A sessions. Thanks to their transparency that enables folks to voice out their opinions and doubts without any reluctance. Predominantly, this talk is focused on shaping up the vision of the new hires in terms of driving customer success going forward.

 Everyone retains and processes information differently. To better teach them irrefutable things, adopting all possible means to train them is paramount. Salesforce encourages different learning preferences by basing its learning method out of the VARK model. According to the VARK model and based on the learning preferences, there are four types of learners:

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  • Auditory: They benefit from lectures, group discussions, and other strategies that involve talking things through.
  • Visual: Using images to explain concepts and ideas is the best way to reach a visual learner.
  • Reading/Writing: They love to read and perform well on written assignments such as stories or book reports.
  • Kinesthetic: People who prefer this mode are connected to reality, either through concrete personal experiences, examples, practice or simulation

SalesForce makes its learning process not just continuous but also effective. And, it comes as no surprise that the onboarding program constitutes folks from various regions. And we all know what great magnitude of learning can a diverse culture provide, right?

Tying back to employee happiness through such highly invested onboarding practices

You know what you want your team to look like. It’s highly important to not create a work malaise with the rules that you impose on your employees. Instead, look out for that one trait that you would want your workforce to carry inherently.  For Salesforce, it’s diversity and volunteerism. Find one hack that could be both your value proposition and the secret potion to inducing employee satisfaction. This way you can sidestep the pitfalls of creating work malaise.

Serving a purpose beyond business

Encouraging employees to volunteer and involving them in social activities can help them achieve a sense of purpose and belongingness inside your company thus making them feel empowered. It enables them to see and serve a purpose beyond just getting paid. It also helps you gain credibility as you are seen as someone who does not draw lines between philanthropy and business. 

Taping into the emotions of your employees means connecting with them both professionally and personally. Indulging into volunteering activities, enabling employees to learn your business from day one, investing in technology to make onboarding easy and comfortable, showing genuine interest in their career, and shaping up their vision are signs that exemplify employee happiness and satisfaction thus making your employee retention game strong.

Final Thought

Scaling up is a herculean task. But learning from companies like Salesforce could make it easier for you. It’s of paramount importance that you do not lose the culture of your company as you scale up. Setting the context, using technology to your benefit, setting up goals, and acknowledging them are some of the quick and best hacks that have proven to help companies like Salesforce win both the employee onboarding and retention game. Ready to play it right? 🙂