#twineTalks Recap: Leveraging Event Design to Create Impactful Remote Onboarding Experiences


Last month, during our #twineTalks, we sat down with Jennifer Jackson, the Manager, Talent Acquisition Services and Projects at the City of Edmonton and former onboarding consultant to discuss how organizations can utilize design thinking and experience design to create more impactful, remote onboarding experiences.

Jennifer has spent the last 15 years working in various facets of Human Resources including recruiting, onboarding, learning & development, and training. In this #twineTalks, she shares how the evolution of distributed teams and remote work has thrust the HR professional’s role into the forefront within their organizations, specifically when it comes to designing remote onboarding experiences.

Onboarding is NOT Just Orientation

Traditional onboarding has gotten (sometimes rightfully so!) a bad rap. Imagine sitting at your desk by yourself on your first day, filling out forms and reading policy manuals. You might get put into an orientation for a few days but then that’s it!  Once your orientation is done, you’re expected to “go be productive”.  

A shift in how we think about onboarding (especially now that many of us have to do it remotely!) means organizations need to consider onboarding as an experience, an ongoing journey, as Jenn puts it “a marathon, not a sprint”. We need to think about spacing out training, interactions, and content so that we are engaging new hires over a longer period of time, in a less overwhelming way.

Jennifer shared that organizations spend on average $3,000 onboarding a new hire so you want to ensure your onboarding experience is set up to ensure a return on your investment.

How Going Remote Has Impacted Onboarding

The three major components of onboarding have always been about compliance, culture & connection. The compliance part (forms, payroll, IT setup, etc.) are becoming easier to do remotely, but HR professionals and leaders need to be more intentional about the culture and connection piece when we're talking about remote onboarding. Onboarding can’t just be about checking off a list, it needs to focus on creating a sense of belonging for your new hire.

In a remote world, organizations have to design their onboarding experiences to not only provide the necessary tools and training, but to intentionally provide these essential opportunities for new hires to connect with their teams and community so they can feel like they belong.

Onboarding as an Event: Human Experience is Everything!

As we start to think about remote onboarding and how to create more engaging onboarding experiences, the HR world starts to merge into the world of event & experience design. Onboarding has become an event! Thinking about experience design, empathy mapping, user touchpoints, and designing around your stakeholders (in this case, the employee), will allow you to create an onboarding experience that actually fosters belonging and growth.

At the City of Edmonton, they even spent time creating user personas and mapping out a new hire’s emotional journey from the moment they signed the offer to their first day to better understand and identify opportunities where their onboarding experience could address these emotional ebbs and flows.

Their onboarding program also included support & tools for the managers that would be managing these new hires. Understanding the journey and challenges for all of your stakeholders, not just the new hire but also the managers that were tasked with onboarding new hires was just as important for a successful experience as understanding the new hire.

The Business Case for Experience Design

Spending months (or even years, in Jennifer’s case) talking about feelings, emotional journey, and empathy mapping can be a tough sell for traditional organizations and leaders where “this is how we’ve always done it” reigns supreme. Making the case for an upfront investment of time and resources to get your onboarding experience right is worth it when you look at the staggering statistics.

  • 69% of employees who participated in a well-designed onboarding program were more likely to stay in their jobs for up to 3 years
  • 28% of new employees would quit a new job in the first 90 days due to poor onboarding.

The cost of replacing an employee is estimated to range between 100% and 300% of the employee’s salary, so you want to spend the time and money upfront to design a proper experience rather than spend your resources replacing and retraining employees.

Remote onboarding presents a new series of challenges for HR leaders and managers but Jennifer reminds us that at the end of the day, human experience is everything. Understanding who you’re designing for, how they’re feeling, and your touch points with them and designing your onboarding program with that lens, will result in more impactful experience.

To view the full recording of this #twineTalks with Jennifer, click here.


Anh Nguyen is the Head of Community Engagement at twine.

To learn more about twine, set up your own space for free here or schedule a time to chat with Anh here.

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Anh Nguyen

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