How 5 LA tech companies make new hires welcome

November 3, 2016

The way a company onboards employees can say a lot about how the organization operates, and with so many innovative companies on the prowl for talent, successfully onboarding an employee can mean the difference between hitting goals and falling short. These five LA-based tech companies have some interesting methods for helping their new employees ramp.

 

According to Senior Marketing Manager Meghan Tawney, AdTaxi believes strongly in the benefits of having new hires become friendly with employees from all departments.

Does AdTaxi have any interesting traditions for new hires to go through? 

We usually take a new hire out to coffee with the entire search team the morning they start to get to know them better socially before we start working with them. We, of course, quiz them about their spirit animal.

How does AdTaxi avoid making new hires feel like "the new guy?"

We implement collaborative training schedules where they work with everyone on the team in some capacity, reflecting our synergistic and symbiotic team mindset. We also hire experts, so we are very open to hearing new ways of optimizing accounts or improving processes that have worked for them in the past. If it is more efficient or leads to better performance, we want to try it.

How are new team members integrated into their specific departments?

New hires run through an intense two-week training process sitting with other team members as they learn the ropes. From there they move to a hands-on approach with additional training and knowledge imparted as they move along.

What advice would you give other tech companies about onboarding new hires?

Make sure the hire is a strong cultural fit, in addition to fitting the needs of the role. Set clear expectations on what the training timeline is and what is expected of new employees at the beginning. Encourage them to ask a lot of questions and be available as much as possible for them. 

 

According to HR Manager Amy Tacker, the key to Chrome River's onboarding efforts involves the right tools, a great trainer and food trucks. 

Does Chrome River have any interesting traditions for new hires to go through? 

They spend their whole first week at the office with our amazing corporate trainer, Glen. He teaches them about the suite of products we offer, introduces them to our culture and helps to acclimate them to the local area. He takes them out to lunch at Fatburger, to the Farmer's Market on Wednesdays and we go in a big group together to LACMA for food truck Friday to meet with different teams. 

How does Chrome River avoid making new hires feel like "the new guy?"

We walk them around and introduce them to the rest of their team and other key employees and managers. Also, just the way our teams are structured they always have a mentor once they come out of training. They are encouraged by the trainer to make as many cross team connections as possible to help them succeed. 

How are new team members integrated into their specific departments?

From the first day they come in all of the tools they need for their specific job are installed and setup for them. Once they get out of training they will have a mentor on their team who they can shadow while ramping up. 

What advice would you give other tech companies about onboarding new hires?

Have a clear training program and metrics to show a new employee's progress. Make the onboarding process as fun as possible and help them feel comfortable right off the bat. Also having informal settings for them to meet other people helps immensely (we are a big fan of lunches).

 

HomeHero's COO and Co-Founder Mike Townsend believes that when it comes to onboarding new employees, a little humor can go a long way.

Does HomeHero have any interesting traditions for new hires to go through?

We always take our new hires out to lunch with fellow employees just to help break the ice and get to know them. We also have a bit of fun when we first introduce a new hire on Slack, hyping them up to ridiculous proportions. For example, one of our data engineers not only has a Ph.D. in astrophysics — he's also an accomplished astronaut who discovered the Higgs boson particle during his tenure as King of the Moon (but was too modest to publish his findings).

How does HomeHero avoid making new hires feel like "the new guy?"

We feel so confident about our new hires that we typically give them projects to spearhead during their first few days with us. It gives them a sense of ownership and contribution so they immediately feel like an integrated and vital part of our team. 

How are new team members integrated into their specific departments?

The department head or senior member will spend time directly with the new hire introducing them to all of the tools we use and how we collaborate across teams. 

What advice would you give other tech companies about onboarding new hires?

Don't assume the new hire knows everything you do. Introduce them to your company's culture from the ground up. We hire some of the brightest healthcare minds in the world, but some of them have never used Google Drive or Slack before. Likewise, some of our engineers will know every programming language you can think of but have no idea how to explain what an ACO is or why MACRA matters. Find the gaps in their knowledge and explain how they relate to the broader objectives of your company. Starting a new job is a disorienting experience, so providing knowledge and structure can be empowering for your new hires.

 

Polymaze is in a different position than many of the other companies on the list. The startup was founded in 2015, and only recently relocated from New York City to Los Angeles. With each new hire, the company is able to fine-tune its onboarding efforts, according to Controller Kirsten Chong.

How does Polymaze avoid making new hires feel like "the new guy?"

We believe transparency is the best way to be inclusive. We make sure everyone at the company is in the loop with respect to all aspects of business, product strategy, development and cycles. We also make an effort to include everyone in any discussion they are interested in, independently of their area of expertise. We believe we are all “one team” and we value each member’s input.

How are new team members integrated into their specific departments?

We hire new team members mostly on the grounds of intelligence and work ethic considerations. We then give them opportunities to work simultaneously on different projects to increase their exposure to the company, so the new hire will have a chance to understand different parts of the company and work with project managers responsible for different areas. We believe in developing team players, members with department expertise but who understand and always work towards the common goals of the company.

What advice would you give other tech companies about onboarding new hires?

Everyone wants a specific type of experience at work, so when assigning projects to a new hire it’s important to both be flexible and supportive. You want to make sure he or she can carve a space with the most optimal overlap of skills and interests. Some people want to be jack-of-all-trades, some want to focus to become an expert in one area. It is much easier to engage and retain employees when they have been assigned tasks relevant to their interest. Set and spell out the right processes for this early on, so that they are easier to maintain as the company grows.

 

According to Jilliene Helman, CEO of RealtyMogul.com, involving new hires immediately is key to a successful ramp-up.

Does RealtyMogul.com have any interesting traditions for new hires to go through? 

When new hires join our team, the Reporting Manager typically sends out an introductory email firm-wide. Although this is not so atypical, we include three fun facts about them that some people might not have known. They tend to be helpful ice breakers and they are far less embarrassing than our former tradition of making new hires sing karaoke in front of the company if they couldn't learn everyone’s name by the end of the first week. Fortunately, we have grown to a size where this would not be a reasonable request.

How does RealtyMogul.com avoid making new hires feel like "the new guy?" 

New hires at RealtyMogul.com are assigned buddies the first week they are here to help with the onboarding process and to get to know the ins and outs of the company. Buddies are always assigned to someone from another area of the company to help them meet people outside of their own department. Additionally, new hires are formally introduced during our monthly town hall meeting.

How are new team members integrated into their specific departments? 

Every department has their own unique process. In Technology, for example, a new hire sits with a different team member each day of their first week to learn what they do and to better understand how each role functions within the larger framework of RealtyMogul.com. 

What advice would you give other tech companies about onboarding new hires?

We’ve learned the faster the immersion, the better. We don’t expect miracles and believe 90 days is a typical ramp-up period for a reason, but we try to get people involved in the work being done from the very beginning. We have learned this approach helps each new employee become a strong contributor who feels empowered to make an impact on the business.

Images via Facebook and Shutterstock

Do you have a story you think we should tell? Share it here and follow us on LinkedIn!