5 quirky onboarding ideas to welcome your new hire

Quirky onboarding ideas

Making a new hire and onboarding them into your team is kind of like moving in with someone after just a few dates. The questions quickly start to come up: what quirks are you going to discover about each other? Is it the right fit? Is it going to work out?

Ideally, of course, you’ll all co-exist happily ever after (or at least happily for the foreseeable future) together. And if you want to improve your changes of that happening, there’s a few things you can do to start your new working relationship off right.

Take a cue from these companies and their quirky onboarding practices to help set your company – and your new employees – up for a beautiful (and lasting!) working relationship.

Get GIF-ing

Lever clearly know how to make a person feel wanted. Whenever recruiting software company hires a new staffer, a collective cheer rings out from the employees surrounding the hiring manager’s desk. It’s “GIF Time!”

“We have so. much. fun. creating these GIFs,” writes Lever’s Jennifer Kim. “The team gathers and there’s a flurry of ‘I’m so excited about Sean!’s and ‘Congrats Paolo!’s and ‘When is she starting???’ as well as, ‘What’s the choreography?’”

Together, the team puts together a fully choreographed welcome GIF, which is then sent to the new hire – CC’ing the entire team, who follow up with their own GIFs.

Inspire with a welcome note

This is the note that every Apple employee reportedly receives on their first day:

There’s work and there’s your life’s work.

The kind of work that has your fingerprints all over it. The kind of work that you’d never compromise on. That you’d sacrifice a weekend for. You can do that kind of work at Apple. People don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to swim in the deep end.

They want their work to add up to something.

Something big. Something that couldn’t happen anywhere else.

Welcome to Apple.

Low whistle. Slow clap. How do you even follow that? The Apple employee that originally posted it on Instagram said it best: “I’ve had this taped to my dresser for two years. Words to live by.”

Get hands-on

Every new hire at now-defunct house-cleaning startup Homejoy had to go through the same rite of passage: scrubbing toilets.

No matter what the new hire was doing – and even the execs weren’t exempt – they had to go on a test clean to learn the ropes from start to finish.

It makes sense – CEO and co-founder Adora Cheung spent a month working for a professional cleaning company before starting Homejoy. “Passing the clean is a badge of honor,” she told Fast Company.

Play “Lunch Roulette”

Warby Parker reportedly does Lunch Roulette, a sort-of colleague introduction system that teams up random employees, who go for lunch together, paid by the company.

“After each weekly team meeting, this software application randomly selects two groups of four people to go to lunch on the company’s tab,” explains the New York Times. “It ensures that no more than one person from each department is in a group.”

It’s a great way to get new employees connected with their colleagues across the company, stop silos before they even form, and support interdepartmental collaboration.

Go back to school

At some organizations, a new hire’s first few weeks (or months) might be spent just learning the ropes, before they even start doing the work. Companies like Facebook, Zappos, and others start newcomers off with in-depth training programs that range from days to weeks long, all designed to get new employees up to speed when it comes to what they do and, maybe more importantly, how to do it.

Here’s an excerpt from our post on the topic:

Every new hire at online shopping company Zappos goes through four weeks of customer service training (what the company calls “a combination of technical training and culture immersion”). The process includes classroom learning and supervised service calls, as well as ample team building exercises and presentations about Zappos’ culture, core values, and its holacracy management style. There’s even a graduation program at the end, complete with confetti, silly string, and air horns.


Looking for more ways to improve your employee onboarding process? Check out our free step-by-step guide, Onboarding: a practical guide, for checklists, templates, and more. Here’s a sneak peek:


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