Ideas to Help Improving Onboarding Effectiveness with Millennials

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People of a certain age remember when onboarding was all about signing your W-9, receiving your employee handbook, and finding the break room. Those days are long gone. There has been a paradigm shift in the onboarding process, and the focus is now company culture and fit.  While there are a number of factors that have led to this shift, the emergence of the millennials in the workforce has contributed significantly to changes in the onboarding process.


As your company takes on more Generation Y (millennial) employees, it will be necessary to change the way you think about and engage in onboarding new team members.

Get Used to the Screens!

Millennials are a generation of screens. They communicate through mediums that often don't involve talking and social media is integrated into their lives much like voice mail and e-mail have been for the rest of us. To establish your company as relevant, you must find new ways to communicate the values of the organization and outline expectations in a way that resonates with younger employees.

In days gone by rules and expectations were communicated with a handbook – a document most employees never cracked open. A creative and more effective way to communicate expectations is through video. When an employee logs on to email or the internal social network for the first time, they might find their inbox full of short, two-minute video messages from their colleagues welcoming them to the team and outlining an expectation that they have for the new employee.

Susan from HR might leave a message about the importance of keeping accurate expense records, and the reasons why those records are important. Mark from customer relations may explain how the new employee’s attention to detail on sales reports impacts overall customer satisfaction.

Methods like this make the new employee feel welcome, provide a better understanding of the “unwritten rules” and expectations of the company.

Welcome videos are also a fun project for existing team members, as well, and they keep everyone thinking about how each job impacts the group. The videos can be shot on smartphones and they need not be overly produced. The point is to connect with the new employee and communicate critical onboarding details in an engaging way.

Socialize Your Internal Network

Millennials communicate through social media. They make plans through social media, order products through social media, and share intimate details of their lives through social media. To engage them early on, consider setting up an internal company social network. The tools and options for implementing internal social networks continue to expand yearly. 

Employees can set up profiles on these internal social networks just as they do on Facebook, but with their profiles relating to their jobs. As part of the onboarding process, have new employees study the profiles, leave messages introducing themselves, and perhaps even participate in a virtual scavenger hunt that requires face-to-face follow-up to encourage interaction. 

Make It Personal

Employees of all generations like to feel special. Throughout the hiring process, you should have learned something about the candidate’s personal interests.

Use that information to give them a welcome gift. That gift could be as simple as a coffee mug with their favorite sports team logo. As with all gifts, it’s the thought that counts, and it will show that you paid attention, you care about who they are, and you want them to feel welcome.

Onboarding today looks nothing like the process of ten or twenty years ago. Acclimating new employees to company culture requires creative thinking and modern tactics. To tailor your onboarding approach, ask your millennial employees what they value in a new job, and use that to springboard yourself into the twenty-first century.


Beth Armknecht Miller is a certified managerial coach and Senior Associate at Dynamic Results LLC, a boutique firm offering Strategy Implementation, Accountability, and Leadership Development solutions. She chairs a monthly Atlanta meeting for Vistage, a company that hosts advisory meetings for CEOs. Her latest book is Are You Talent Obsessed?


Updated by Art Petty