At BrightEdge, we take employee onboarding very seriously. We’ve found the faster new hires get “on board” through intensive training and immersion in our corporate culture, the more productive they are in contributing to our performance.
Our findings are based on the lessons we’ve learned since our founding as a Silicon Valley startup in 2007. And there’s no teacher more valuable than experience.
In this post, we’ll share the key elements of our innovative training program that has made all the difference in fueling our growth by accelerating the integration of new employees.
BrightEdge Onboarding: The Challenges Faced
Our onboarding program involves training new hires in SEO industry best practices and how our SaaS platform helps clients achieve their SEO and content marketing goals.
We now employ approximately 300 people globally; this means we’ve had to meet the challenge of creating a training program that speaks to all of the diverse professionals across teams.
And because an increasing number of our new hires are from outside the U.S., we needed a training program that integrates people from different countries as well.
Our Onboarding Process: The Challenges Met
Last year, we successfully held 20 classes that trained approximately 150 new hires. Our week-long employee training included speakers and instructors who represented our different departments, and also included relevant learning exercises. This program continues on in 2015.
Throughout the training week, new hires are given a series of 15 quizzes to test their retention of key concepts. The quizzes are open book and low stakes with employees grading their own performance.
At the end of the week, our new employees take three SEO certification tests to gauge their knowledge of the SEO industry as well as our company and SaaS platforms.
We assign one full-time instructor to our training program. We’ve found the best candidate for this position to be an evangelist staff member who has expertise in SEO and our software platform and is able to instill enthusiasm for our company amongst new hires.
We’ve also found the ideal instructor possesses the qualities of a good teacher, specifically, patience and the communication skills needed to explain complex topics in a way that is easily grasped.
Given that we’re expanding on a global scale, we’ve selected an instructor who is also adept at teaching people from other countries and cultures.
3 Steps to Optimize Your Employee Training Program
There are several practical requirements for a successful employee training program. Following are a few ways you can optimize yours:
- Secure Buy-In from Management
An effective training process costs money, so your management team may lean towards a “sink or swim” approach to new hires. In the long run, this runs counter to your company’s overall success because of the opportunity cost of hiring and training excessive replacement people. Your task is to convince managers of the efficiency and effectiveness of a thorough onboarding process.
- Recruit the Best Instructor
A candidate for taking on the task of training should not only be highly knowledgeable about your company but also able to impart enthusiasm for its mission. He or she should also be willing to take on the administrative details involved as well as stay current with your industry to keep the subjects relevant.
- Designate Space and Materials
Ideally, there should be a designated room on site with the necessary audio-visual equipment for holding classes. In our experience, it can be quite pricey to rent such accommodations off-site.
As a rapidly growing company that stays a step ahead of the curve, we’ve come to value employee onboarding as an investment in our future that will keep providing dividends with optimal productivity and continued growth.
If you’re looking to optimize your employee training process, take some tips from our experience here to start. While the initial investment may seem steep, the ongoing payoff is well worth it.