Onboarding New Employees in a Pandemic

Onboarding New Employees in a Pandemic

This time of year, we're normally busy welcoming new employees to our DMC team. In the past five years, we've onboarded over 110 new employees with most starting between May and August. Our largest onboarding class was my first summer at DMC in 2017 when we welcomed 40 new engineers. Just when we felt comfortable with our onboarding routine, a global pandemic tried to throw a wrench in our well-oiled machine.

As our core values say, DMC is full of smart people and expert solutions, so our onboarding team has been able to meet this challenge head on. We are excited to announce that although we've pushed the start dates back a few months, DMC plans to welcome at least 11 new engineers to our team this summer/fall!

A Warm Welcome

DMC prides itself on engineering a welcoming onboarding experience. We welcome our new employees to the team before their first day by sending a backpack full of DMC SWAG to enjoy while walking around campus. Within their first week, we schedule opportunities for the new employees to meet their coworkers in casual settings like a welcome lunch their first day and happy hour their first Friday. When the new employees are more settled, we gather their ideas and plan a personalized Welcome Party for even more bonding experiences.

DMC SWAG for new employees

Streamlined Training

Making a new employee feel welcome is important for DMC's culture, but getting a new employee ramped up quickly is important for DMC's profitability. Over the years we have also developed a comprehensive training program for each service area at DMC. Each new hire's Employee Knowledge Plan (EKP) Trainings are tracked through our own custom software. This tracking software makes planning a new employee's classes as simple as clicking a few buttons and then adding events to the calendar.

Welcome to your (mostly virtual) First Day!

For their first day of work, we offered new employees the option to join a few of their team members in the office or have their laptop and all necessary supplies shipped to their homes. With masks and social distancing second nature at this point in the pandemic, a few new employees have decided to meet in person for their first day.

After being shown to their freshly cleaned workspace, the new employee jumped into a Zoom meeting with our IT Specialist, Brian. Brian helped walk the new employees through setting up Multifactor authentication, Outlook setup, Slack sign/MFA and answered any first day IT jitters questions.

Once they were properly set up with IT, the in-office new employees were taken on a tour of their offices. Since the majority of employees are working from home, we highlighted office features on the tour. In Chicago, we pointed out how all of our printers are named after '90s TV and movie characters. My personal favorites are Mr. T, Phoebe Buffay, Carrie Bradshaw, and Michael Bolton (from Office Space). We also highlighted that we have a collaboration room devoted to our patron saint of customer service, Patrick Swayze

Michel Bolton printer at DMC Chicago

Getting to Know You

Welcome lunches are an office favorite. When we were all working in the office, we'd gather for a catered lunch in our largest conference room. This year's format was a bit different, but hopefully equally as welcoming. Individually wrapped lunches were ordered for the handful of people who were in the office for the day and other team members called in to a virtual meeting.

It is DMC tradition to have new employees come up with an ice breaker question and have everyone in the meeting answer it. Some questions from past welcome lunches were "If you were a food, what would you be?" "What fashion trend do you wish would come back in style?" It's a fun way to get to know your colleagues!

At the conclusion of their first day, new employees were encouraged to take home anything needed to make their home workspace more comfortable. After monitors, chairs, and anything else from their desk were loaded into their cars, the new employees left to finish the rest of their training from the comfort of their own homes.

DMC automation team on zoom

Training Remotely

One of the toughest challenges to overcome with new employees training remotely is to make sure they feel like they have the resources to answer any questions. It's not as easy as turning to your neighbor to ask a question when you're sitting at home in your living room. Each new employee is given a manager, technical advisor, and two mentors they can reach out to with any questions. These team members are also encouraged to regularly check in to make sure everything is going well.

Throughout their first days, new employees also meet a person from each internal operations team during trainings. This allows for more familiarity when asking questions for each department.

New DMC employees training virtually

Staying Connected

We are fortunate to have a company culture that encourages asking questions. One example is through our company Slack channels. If anyone has a question, they can find a channel to post it in. With channels like #no-dumb-questions and even a channel specifically for #newbies, we encourage putting your questions out for crowdsourcing. The philosophy is, if you have a question, there's probably someone else wondering the same thing.

DMC slack channel

Since DMC plays as hard as we work, we also have fun channels to keep us all connected while we're away. I have a few favorite channels I watch regularly. #dm-schemes is where we brainstorm other industries DMC could branch into but mostly it's just infomercial products we wish we could have. #spamquotes where we share all of the weird spam emails and phone calls we receive and #wholesome-memes where people post throughout the day to give little rays of sunshine.

A few slack channels I've learned about since working from home are #receipeshare, #crafting, and #i-did-a-thing where everyone shares projects that their enjoying. Since working from home, we've also added a few channels. #cabin-fever is where we share how we're staying entertained at home. Our newest channel of #activity-fund-one-dmc is where we are working on planning virtual events for all of us to attend together. 

Swayze Room at DMC Chicago

Despite wearing masks in the office and spending time on virtual meetings, our pandemic onboarding process isn't too different than our regular onboarding process. Our internal onboarding team keeps tasks organized in SharePoint with workflows firing for each step of the process. Our communication tools make virtual trainings easy to attend. While we look forward to a time when everyone can be back in our offices, we're happy that we have the tools to continue welcoming new employees in these interesting times. 

Learn more about DMC's company culture


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