Preparing environments for new employees

My company has been hiring for a while, but we’ve had trouble finding qualified candidates. We did extend offers to a couple of people recently, though, so the progress is exciting.

We’ve used this lull in hiring to revamp our new-employee experience. It used to be that when you came to work here, I’d give you a computer that was mostly configured, and basically leave you to your own devices. If I remembered, I’d set up your phone extension, email account, domain account, etc. Thankfully, that is far behind us.

We’ve had a checklist for a while that we walk through when setting up an image for a laptop, then a checklist that we go through after we apply an image (things like rename it, join it to the domain, and other tasks that don’t work well prior to imaging), and a checklist of network services that the new user will need access to (all of our internal services are tied to AD authentication, so the centralized account is important, but our mail is outsourced, and the phone server is utterly disconnected from everything, including reality, so that needs manually added).

What we haven’t had, until yesterday, was (please forgive me for the phrases I’m about to use) an actionable list of deliverables (sweet jesus, that was painful). Basically, HR had a list of documents, and we had a list of stuff to do, but nowhere was there a document that described what the employee would actually GET. So I pulled the HR lady and my junior admin into the conference room yesterday and we talked through it.

The end result of that meeting was a list of things that the new people will get. This includes everything from the very basic (a desk, a trashcan, a stapler, etc) to the technical (a computer that’s as thoroughly configured as possible, according to the existing image and checklists, telephone w/ extension configured, etc). In addition, they are going to get a three ring binder, within which will be all of the important company information, contact lists, organization charts, and a section for IT documentation which will have a summary sheet (which includes important things like their username, overview of server names they’ll need to know, etc), a small amount of printed software documentation (such as how to use passwordsafe to remember passwords, and truecrypt to encrypt and decrypt USB keys), and all of the IT security policies.

The combination of all of these lists will be that the employee should be much more empowered to get work done as soon as possible.

I’m interested in hearing what kinds of things you do to help get your new employees on their feet as soon as they arrive. Please comment and let everyone know!

  • John McGrath

    I see you use Cisco Phone server products too…

    Since most of the HR functions and Domain functions were off-shored in the last two years, we mostly have to worry about getting the off shore personnel to perform their jobs before the new hire comes in.

    IT will guide them through the process of having the user log in, and review the IT policies we have in place.

    Our computers are a standard image, and we (local IT) know what software packages the departments use, so that was included in our checklist. If there is a special request from the Department Head for that user, we will fulfill it on a as needed basis.

  • Our “onboarding” process actually begins with an online workflow that one of our developers created for HR. This provides a menu of services that the new user should have access to. Some of the menu items include business applications, specific hardware requests, etc…

    Once a business user is brought into the mix, we coordinate a little tutorial time with our Help Desk guy. HR and Business training is handled by those groups specifically.

    When a new IT person is brought into the group, we take a little different route to bringing them up to speed. Our department is such that we are all stretched to the limit. So, we try and have the person handle Help Desk requests for the first couple weeks. This alleviates some of the pressure on us while the user begins learning about the users and their systems before diving right into the administration. Plus, it gives us some time to determine which keys to the castle to hand out. We have had a handful of instances of being too eager to pass tasks off to the new hire and needed to do some major cleanup.

    I love the idea of the 3-ring binder for the new hires and I will propose adding something like that to our procedures. Having a single place for the new hire to go for the most basic information is a great idea and it may help the internal IT procedures too.

  • James

    (a desk, a trashcan, a stapler, etc)

    Make sure that Milton gets a red Swingline stapler.

  • Dan

    Three ring binder? isn’t this 2011? while I will quickly point out that my company’s wiki is a mess and lacks any policies or standards, I think that is a better place for the sorts of things that would normally go in a binder. The free SharePoint templates should suffice for this type of thing and shouldn’t require an inordinate amount of time to set up.

  • @Dan

    I agree, it’s sub-optimal. All of the data contained in the binder is available on the wiki or the HR fileshare…but how do you suppose the user knows to go there to look for it? ;-)

  • The company I am currently working for has an impressive home page that has all of the HR information listed on it. It is the homepage for all new computers which I believe to be a good idea. They even have the companies organizational chart which is a great thing that way if someone leaves or something changes on that chart it’s just updated in one place.

    Of course this idea only works well if it is kept up to date which I’m suprised on how well they do.

  • John McGrath

    @ Dan: While its suboptimal for IT personnel who have the ability to use the Internet/Intranet applications, but the average office worker does not either care to learn or to use those tools that we in IT use everyday.

    Furthermore, new employees feel better about having a set of guidelines that the can refer to right way. While a new hire in the IT department would receive a PC with shortcuts to various topics in a wiki, a new office hire prefers to have a book(let) to refer to, because they will use that resource most.

  • @John: I do partially agree with your statement. I think it really depends on the type of company you work for. If you’re company is retail for example then many of the employees may never even use your intranet or maybe even a computer at all.

    However I feel that a company where all of the positions require their users to use a computer on a daily basis those users should become very familiar with an intranet site right from the beginning. Whether there particular role involves something in IT or not if they work with a computer daily it’s in there best interest to know there way around on the site so they can keep up to date with changes, etc. to the corporate structure.

    That’s the way my current company has handled their HR documentation for new employees for the most part. We all did get some small paper documents in the beginning but the primary focus was for us to learn the intranet site quickly as it would always contain the most up to date information.

  • Richard S

    Just a quick note, you can auto join images to the domain using sysprep, and a few other goodies.

    Takes the pain out of some setups.

    There is actually a load you can do automatically on initial start using a clever combination of shell scripting and sysprep

    ~ Rich