September 15, 2021

Discovering Spreetail: Remote Onboarding

Hannah Riggle
September 15, 2021

Discovering Spreetail: Remote Onboarding

Hannah Riggle

As a company that sells products across 15+ online marketplaces, we had to ensure that we could fulfill customers' orders in two days or less as Covid-19 put strains on supply chains. Companies across the world were facing unique challenges, and here at Spreetail we were tasked with hiring and onboarding talent quickly and efficiently enough to achieve success for our brands, customers, team, and communities.

In August of 2020 we were onboarding 90 people per month, this past summer that number had doubled to over 180. So far in 2021, we've hired and onboarded over 600 employees across the country. Since our team began working from home in March of 2019, we had to rapidly launch a virtual onboarding program to ensure the safety and health of all Spreetailers. Over the last year and a half, we haven't settled on what was initially launched - we are constantly finding ways to improve the experience, lessen the time of impact, and retain top talent.  

"I was concerned about onboarding during a time that is all virtual, however, the process was seamless and I learned so much. Can't wait to get started in my role."

When transitioning our onboarding program from in-person to online only, our goal remained the same: To provide all Spreetailers an in-depth understanding of where we have been, who we are, and where we are going while fostering relationships with people from across departments and locations. However, we knew that the program needed to adapt to the new virtual environment. We decided to shorten the onboarding program to increase engagement and began analyzing what content was most vital to learn for a new hire in the first week. We began by looking at our company structure and vision – what's most important to Spreetail and how do we make sure we portray this information to new hires? What are our top companywide goals and how do we align and communicate these metrics through our content?  

"The transparency here is nothing short of phenomenal. I can't believe how open and honest we are about our sales, our company wide decision making, and all around culture. Very refreshing and a great starting point for us newbies!"

As we've shortened our onboarding program, we've also shortened our time to impact. Adjusting our onboarding program from over a week down to three days allowed us to train quicker, have new hires start their roles sooner, ultimately impact business needs faster. We transformed the content from an intense amount of time learning every department, to following a lifecycle of a vendor throughout our business model to understand the ecommerce industry. This has allowed us to create a base knowledge for new Spreetailers and also allow us to replicate the content for multiple classes during peak hiring times. We can now onboard over 60 people virtually in one week while providing a great employee experience.

Before You Start:

At Spreetail, successful onboarding happens when the Talent Acquisition, Talent Development, and IT teams are communicating and collaborating effectively. We find it's important for new hires to have access to information immediately after they sign their offer letter to join the team. This is why this year we created a website specifically for new hires that includes what they can do prior to their first day to make sure they are ready to start their new career. Including information about our tools, common lingo used, and the full onboarding schedule has eased the anxiety many feel when beginning a new job.

"I've never had a job take that much time and commitment to make sure each employee, no matter the position, really understands the company inside and out. This onboarding process really made me feel like a part of the bigger picture rather than one employee doing one job."

Our IT team is diligently researching technology supplier constraints to ensure equipment is shipped to new hires prior to their start date. This setup includes two monitors, a laptop, keyboard, and mouse. Without the opportunity to troubleshoot technology issues in-person, we analyzed the logistics of the first-day experience and extended the IT set-up portion to make sure everyone is connected and can be successful right away.  

Discovering Spreetail:

Spreetail provides a three-day onboarding experience full of business and culture education twice a month. In March of 2020, we decided to split each cohort into two smaller classes and present information simultaneously. This allowed for smaller classes to engage with the content, facilitators, and build stronger relationships with their cohort class. This also is a great leadership opportunity for more Spreetailers to be involved with onboarding facilitation. Each class averages around 40 new hires across different locations, levels, and teams. No matter if you are joining the C-Suite in Lincoln, the Fulfillment Leadership Team in Washington, or working remotely for our Software & Technology team in Georgia - you'll experience the same in-depth onboarding.

"After my first week, I don't know why I didn't start 3 years ago when someone had told me about it! Everyone is just so great!"

Over the three days, new hires experience a variety of live virtual trainings, eLearning, and various activities together such as a virtual coffee connect with their cohort. Fifteen Spreetailers from across the company facilitate sessions on our mission and vision, tools, benefits, community impact initiatives, inclusion networks, and mantra and culture. Internally we use Microsoft Teams to communicate, so during onboarding our presenters are utilizing the "hand raise" feature and chat feature to encourage interaction throughout sessions. Each new hire has the opportunity to learn what every division and team does at Spreetail, so they can see how their role will collaborate across the company and impact the entire organization.

Throughout the first week of onboarding, we also introduce our Learning Management System, Lessonly, where new hires complete individual online training lessons to mix up their days and lessen the amount of lecture time. There are four different online lessons offered throughout the three-day program including internal communications, department overviews, competencies and how they show up at Spreetail, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training.

To continue our goal of fostering relationships with Spreetailers across departments and locations, new hires participate in a Kahoot quiz on day one and an online scavenger hunt on day two that helps them learn our systems and familiar themselves with our tools. During the first two days, Uber Eats vouchers are sent to the new hires so we can still provide lunch despite working remotely. On day one they will meet with their manager and on day two have lunch with their team in order to build relationships early.  

"I was blown away with everything about training. From getting our computers, monitors, etc., to being sent lunch, to the in-depth learning about different departments. I am thrilled to be starting my career at Spreetail!"

Working in different locations can be tough, but we’ve witnessed how intentionally meeting with each other via video chat helps us collaborate more effectively. This concept encouraged us to create our Mentor Program where every new hire is paired up with someone from a different team. The purpose of this program is to provide a warm welcome for our new team members by encouraging them to impact our culture, build meaningful connections, and pursue challenges. Over the first eight weeks, new hires and their mentors connect in a schedule that aligns with our mantra, positively impacting our company’s retention rates.

How We Measure Success:

The success of our onboarding program is measured with a variety of factors including Onboarding Net Promoter Score (NPS), Commitment to Spreetail's Vision, Manager Involvement, Understanding of our Business, Goals, and Culture, and Building Relationships. In addition to this quantitative data, every new hire is asked to provide feedback on ways to improve the program. Microsoft Forms allow us to efficiently collect and track these scores and feedback from the large number of new hires completing onboarding.

Our overall Onboarding NPS since February 2020 is 76, and we've seen this score as high as 93 in April 2021. As we’ve continuously made changes to improve the program, the qualitative data has remained positive about the content covered in onboarding. The most reassuring feedback was from our CEO; in a Q&A with Brett someone asked him "What doesn't keep you up at night - what are you most confident in Spreetail doing well?" and his first response was our onboarding program – he said he’s always confident our team will put on an amazing and consistent program.

The retention rates of 30-days at 97% and 6-month at 88% has also had an impact on our key talent retention. We've seen an increase in user-generated content on LinkedIn of new hires sharing their experience during onboarding and this has had a positive impact on our employee referrals. As we continue to grow quickly as a company, referrals have been essential in helping us achieve our hiring goals. When looking at our referral metrics, 105 Spreetailers who started over the last 12 months have had 148 of their referrals hired.

"I personally texted some of my friends that I know are looking for jobs, to tell them about this company before the end of the first day of onboarding."

Beyond the First Week:

As our Talent Development team continues to evaluate feedback and raise the bar of this program, we continue to view onboarding as more than just the first week at Spreetail. This is why all of our new hires continue to go through additional workshops such as Spreetail Spark within their first 90 days.  

Despite having every new hire, no matter the level, location, or role, go through the same onboarding program, we recognized the need to roll out an additional program for executives and those who would be managing Spreetailers. In November, we rolled out a new onboarding program "Managing at Spreetail." We are consistently refining programs for our people leaders to include additional topics such as a financial deep-dive, key business relationships (10-20 individual meetings with stakeholders across the company), and HR-related information.  

Our Talent Development team not only owns the original onboarding program but collaborates with our Executive Partners to handle this additional training for managers. This team is consistently getting requests from Spreetailers to make sure managers on their team have gone through this valuable training. This taught us that these managing sessions must be mandatory and take place in the first 60 days of starting at Spreetail in order to have a positive impact on their direct reports.

"Overall this was the best onboarding I have gone through in my career. I feel this was built with the trainee in mind."

The ecommerce industry is constantly changing, which means our onboarding information needs revamped frequently. Each time we have a company All Hands quarterly meeting we update our content to make sure our goals, vision, metrics, etc. are all accurate. We are continuously looking at engaging ways to keep our program fresh and applicable to our audience of new Spreetailers.    

Hannah Riggle

Training & Development Specialist

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