Jack Ang, People Experience Lead, Circles.Life acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to onboarding, therefore the company keeps it different and personalised for each new hire.

Circles.Life recently took home the gold award for Best Onboarding Experience at the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore.

In this interview, Jack Ang, People Experience Lead, Circles.Life, shares what exactly led to this win - how the company adapted its onboarding strategy to overcome pandemic challenges, what a personalised onboarding process means for Circles.Lifers, and more.

Q Congratulations on bagging this award! What is your award-winning employee experience strategy that led to this win?

We acknowledged that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to onboarding, therefore we wanted to keep it different and personalised for each new hire. Learning from the success and failures of our previous onboarding programme that utilised pre-existing software, we moved away from using paid tools and created a new process which included three segments: Pre-onboarding, day one onboarding and post onboarding.

This strategy enabled us to stay engaged with new hires and assimilate them into the culture of Circles.Life.

Q How did you and your team conceptualise and adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?

We did this through creating a process with three steps: Pre-onboarding, day one onboarding and post onboarding. These segments were created to measure and optimise engagement for new hires, whilst ensuring a deeper understanding of the Circles.Life culture. 

A week prior to their start date, new hires receive an interactive and personalised welcome email that gives them more information about the company and pre-onboarding reminders to get them ready for their first day. They are also required to fill in a form to help us get to know them better.

On their first day, new hires will be welcomed to the company by the People and Culture team both online and in the office. Upon arriving, they are greeted with a welcome pack of Circles SWAG before they start their journey with us. 

The onboarding journey does not end on day one. To ensure that new hires are fully integrated into the Circles.Life culture, we introduced bite-sized modules around rewards,  that help with their long-term engagement.

Overall, our onboarding programme lasts up to the first 90 days of the employee’s lifecycle. 

Q What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

Prior to the pandemic, we leveraged technology and tools to bridge engagement gaps that were typically felt in different phases during the onboarding journey with automated emails that were sent periodically. This, however, resulted in the dehumanisation of the process and made it especially challenging in the ever changing pandemic situation globally.  

In order for us to overcome the challenge, the team recognises that it is important to assemble a scalable onboarding programme that was integrated, strategically automated and personalised — one that could support our growth trajectories.

With the implementation of work-from-home, we had to reconfigure our initial plans to bridge the gap of a virtual experience.

Our new process utilises a series of tools such as Canva, Stripo and Google Suite, which enable us to personalise the experience for each new hire. Fortunately, this was easily actualised as most of our initiatives were already semi-virtual because our employees are situated in various countries. As we eased out of the initial Covid-19 restrictions, our onboarding programme resumed as we had intended. 

Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience at Circles.Life, in terms of ROI? Any achievements you’d like to show off?

As a direct impact of utilising a more personalised approach, we were able to significantly reduce the amount of time spent on set up on day one, resulting in a higher level of engagement amongst new Circles.Lifers. On a whole, we’ve also seen an increase in response rates to our emails. 

Since its implementation, new Circles.Lifers have generally felt highly engaged and satisfied with their orientation resulting in a consistent satisfaction score higher than 4.5/5 each month.

Further, at Circles.Life, we conduct a monthly pulse check for all employees. Reassuringly, the data shows that new hires consistently rate their engagement above average. The same survey also showed a positive employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), highlighting the new hires’ enthusiasm from their onboarding journey.

Q What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of (and winning at!) the debut Employee Experience Awards?

We were extremely humbled by the result. This award is a testimony to all the hard work of the People Experience team here in Circles.Life.

We are a small team looking over new hires across multiple geographies and to be able to be recognised externally, it gives us the extra boost and comfort knowing that we are making a difference in the journey of our new hires.

Q Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?

As mentioned earlier, we run engagement surveys and pulse checks frequently to understand how we can further improve on your employee onboarding experience. We are looking to bring in new experiences as we move into the 'new normal' of virtual onboarding. We will be looking to roll out more bite-sized modules and transform some of them into videos which new hires can consume at the own schedule. 

Q Do share 1-2 tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX strategies and would love to participate in the awards next year.

For fellow peers out there, focus on making small impacts rather than striving for perfection right at the start. It can be as simple as streamlining your pre-onboarding process into a simple one pager and/or breaking down your current onboarding itinerary into smaller themes across a span of the 90 days for your new hires! I am excited to hear the results!

Q Lastly, to end on a fun note – if you could describe the employee experience at Circles.Life in one sentence, what would that be?

In Circles.Life, we are not just creating experiences, we are giving power back to the employees.

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!


Photo / Provided [Pictured: Jack Ang, People Experience Lead, Circles.Life] 

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