Elements of a successful onboarding program

Onboarding employees

Elements of a successful onboarding program

The employee onboarding process is not taken lightly at Byars|Wright. It’s a team effort, and everyone shares a common goal: Make each employee feel welcomed, comfortable, and informed. 

“Those first few days are the best time to make the best impression possible on the new hire and show them what we are really about as a company,” said Mitchell Garnett, Director of Agency Operations. “Our main objective is to make that new person feel a part of our team and allow them to have natural buy-in to what we are doing as an agency instead of forcing them into it.” 

The importance of a successful employee onboarding program

Amee Donald, Agency Relations Manager, manages the employee onboarding process from start to finish. She emphasized, “We win with people and believe we are successful because of them. We have a family culture and aim to treat each employee like family.” 

Likewise, Jan Giangrosso, Service Team Manager, said that having an effective employee onboarding process breeds a comfortable, learning environment for the employee. “If we do our job correctly, it makes the new employee self-sufficient and grooms them to become a mentor for a later new hire.” 

Plus, we believe the on-boarding process is just as beneficial for the agency as it is for the new employee. “Our onboarding process has helped improve other areas and ways we communicate with our current employees,” commented Lacey Rae Visintainer, Brand Manager.

“Not only are we creating a better, more personalized, and intentional way of bringing in new employees, but we’ve also learned a few things along the way.”

Key elements of a successful employee onboarding program

We asked members of our onboarding team to weigh in on what makes the Byars|Wright employee onboarding program successful. Here are the key elements that they noted: 

Give everyone a role

From a simple handshake and smile on an employee’s first day to serving as a mentor, everyone at Byars|Wright plays a role in the onboarding process. We don’t want to only discuss first-day tasks or issues. We want to lay the foundation for our relationship with that person during the onboarding process, and it begins on day one.

Start with introductions

It’s important to make the new hire feel right at home the second he/she comes into our office on their first day. The first thing on their calendar is an “office tour”. Not only does this show them around their new office building, but it allows us to make introductions. We introduce the new hire to everyone in the office within the first hour of the day.

Usually, that office will break for coffee and breakfast, a mid-morning snack, or even a lunch with everyone as well so that there is time to get to know others. Then, members of our onboarding team make sure they schedule trips to our other offices soon after their hire date so that they can meet more people within the agency.

“We take pride in the people we have on our team, and we want to let them shine their same light onto the new employee and make them feel as welcome as possible,” Mitchell said.

Instill company culture and values

Rather than jumping into workflows and day-to-day tasks, we spend the majority of our effective onboarding time instilling our culture into the new hire. Our values and culture impact every aspect of our agency and how we do business, so it is important for the new employee to understand our mindset and why we do things the way that we do. 

Make the process personal

At Byars|Wright, the successful onboarding process is different than most because we put a personal feel to the process. We start by learning a few small details – such as their favorite candy – and use those to welcome them.

Additionally, our team believes that the key to onboarding an employee who will be successful long-term is figuring out how they respond to certain situations and understanding how they learn. Our leadership team takes that knowledge into consideration as we help employees grow in their careers with Byars|Wright.

Follow a shadowing schedule

Shadowing is an integral part of our onboarding process. Each new employee is exposed to all roles in the company early on. From sales and service to operations, we believe this exposure helps the new hire understand how the agency works together as one. It also allows new employees to get to know their work-family better, ask questions, and see how different roles function.

Of course, the shadowing schedule does morph into training for their specific position. Many teammates, who are not on the onboarding team, are involved in the training process as well. We are proud to have so many who are willing to offer their time and knowledge.

Teach the technology 

From setting up their email to teaching them how to use specific software, it is vital that new employees understand the basics of how we use our computers to complete day-to-day tasks and communicate efficiently. Utilizing video courses and help files can make this an easier transition to the new employee after their first day.

Equip employees with valuable resources

Once we have introduced the new employee to the team, technology, and general agency processes, we leave them with a “New Employee Welcome Binder.” This binder houses basic information, like office maps, parking information, logins, and workflows.

“Even though our agency strives to be as paperless as possible, telling a new employee they can find everything they need in their DropBox folder just doesn’t feel welcoming,” Lacey Rae said. “If they forget their login, they may not be able to access something without assistance. So, we created a tangible guide – a binder that they can refer to on their first day and beyond. It has a schedule for their first day and week, and also has information on what to expect in the months to come.”

The binder also houses documents explaining our benefits, culture, branding, and more. A “Byars|Wright Family Photo Album” allows new employees to put faces to names.

Onboarding is Ongoing 

One of the most important elements of a successful onboarding process is that it starts on day one and never stops. “After you follow your shadowing scheduling and onboarding protocol, you shouldn’t just stop,” Jan said. “You constantly ask the new employee how they are doing.” For example, once the new employee has an understanding of what they’re supposed to do, we conduct some “reverse shadowing.” This makes them feel more comfortable and confident in their role.  

Evaluate the process

Last but certainly not least, we are constantly asking for feedback from new employees on the onboarding process and how it can be improved for future employees. “People learn differently so we must teach differently,” Lacey Rae said. “Evaluating our resources and training process every time we have a new employee has helped us better develop training for both new and seasoned employees.”

Embracing a Culture of Empowerment and Growth

The success of Byars|Wright‘s employee onboarding program lies in its commitment to people-first principles and a genuine desire to make every new team member feel valued and welcomed from day one. Through personalized introductions, comprehensive shadowing schedules, and a focus on instilling company culture and values, the agency ensures that each employee not only becomes self-sufficient but also grows into a mentor for future hires.

The dedication to continuous improvement is evident in their approach to seeking feedback and evaluating the onboarding process regularly. This commitment ensures that the program evolves with the changing needs of the organization and the diverse learning styles of new employees.

At Byars|Wright, onboarding is more than just a one-time event; it is an ongoing journey of support and development. With the combination of technology training, valuable resources in the form of the New Employee Welcome Binder, and a caring work-family culture, the agency nurtures a sense of belonging and empowerment in every team member.

As a locally owned and operated insurance agency that has garnered recognition for its outstanding practices and positive work environment, Byars|Wright exemplifies how a well-designed onboarding program can create a strong foundation for success, fostering a team of dedicated professionals who contribute to the agency’s growth and overall excellence.

As we continue to learn and adapt from their invaluable experience, let us remember that successful onboarding extends far beyond paperwork and training—it is about creating an environment where every employee feels valued, connected, and ready to shine. By embracing the key elements discussed here, we can enhance our own onboarding processes and build stronger, more cohesive teams that thrive together.

Learn more about onboarding new employees from Byars|Wright 

Byars|Wright is a locally owned and operated independent insurance agency with six offices across Alabama that has developed into a major provider of commercial, personal, and employee benefits insurance. Since 1946, the agency has expanded its scope of business and delivers a wide-range of insurance products with quality coverage at competitive prices. Byars|Wright has been designated a Best Practices Agency by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America and was also named “Best Companies to Work For in Alabama” by Business Alabama every year since 2016. 

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