Onboarding is Key to the Remote Worker Experience

Brianna Lewke, Global Onboarding Manager

As Global Onboarding Manager for a cybersecurity company, I find myself in a unique position. I know we’re in a period of historic change where the unemployment rate is at an all-time high, which shifted seemingly overnight, where just a few months ago, we were in the opposite situation. As we navigate the current unprecedented global situation, with all of the changes and outside stressors that all employees are feeling, employee engagement is even more critical than it’s ever been before. However, no matter how many people (or how few) are being hired, onboarding is still a critical piece in the Employee Engagement plan. I’ve seen the value of a good onboarding experience firsthand. In fact, a 2017 report says that a company that invests time in a quality onboarding process not only is 25% more likely to retain its workers, but also will see an 11% increase in performance. And nearly 1 in 10 people have left a company due to poor onboarding experiences. 

Looking back over the past few years, I’ve also witnessed Palo Alto Networks grow exponentially, in both our product offerings and our number of employees. However,as we began taking a closer look at attrition and engagement rates, it became clear to us that we were missing the mark with some of our onboarding efforts. The processes we’d followed when the company was a small startup no longer suited a company with our increased size and scope, and they didn’t necessarily address our large remote workforce as effectively as they could have. So we’ve recently initiated a number of changes to the onboarding process for remote employees. This has proved exceptionally important during today’s current WFH (work from home) situation for many employees around the world.

Welcome Day

One of many elements of our onboarding that we redesigned is our initial start day/start week experience for employees, which affects not only those who work at headquarters, but also remote employees. (Note: we mention start date and not “Day One” because for us, Day One is the day you sign your offer; that’s when your onboarding begins!) By your first day, if you’re an employee in the Americas (Canada, the US or Latin America) who is working remotely, you will have already been invited to participate in Pre-Boarding (a virtual learning path you received after you signed your offer) and been sent  an invitation to “Virtual Welcome Day”. Using Zoom conferencing and G Suite collaboration tools, you’ll take part in an interactive, live, facilitated session that was specifically designed to deeply engage remote workers. In this interactive environment, you’ll connect  and participate with people of all backgrounds from different countries , and you’ll learn about our company, our values, our platform, and our resources. Feedback from the last two quarters of participants in this new program has been overwhelmingly positive — our program earned an NPS (net promoter score) of 96 — that’s something we’re very proud of. 

The First Three Months

Our efforts to engage remote employees don’t stop after Virtual  Welcome Day. One of the takeaways at the end of the session is the introduction to “Level Up,” our digital learning platform, which features a 90-day on-demand onboarding path. By using this approach, our new hires get on-demand materials in a way that’s more easily digestible and retained, presented when they’re ready for it, and ensuring they’re set up with the tools they need to become happy, engaged, long-term employees.

We also connect with our employees multiple times within their first three months — checking in, sharing resources, and getting their feedback. A new job is a big life change, and it can be hard to recall everything you’ve learned on your first day, so we make this information continuously accessible. By getting their perspectives, we ensure a dynamic program that meets their needs.

The massive growth of the cybersecurity industry means that we’re continuing to hire new employees. The workforce is evolving, and if we’re going to remain successful, our onboarding efforts must constantly evolve with it. I’m proud of the changes we’ve made so far and look forward to finding new opportunities to help all employees to stay meaningfully connected to Palo Alto Networks.