#SquadGoals: Unique Ways Boston Companies Welcome Their New Hires

There’s no better feeling for a new hire than getting a warm welcome on their first day of work.

Case in point:

Starting a new job can be as nerve wracking as the first day of school. Where do you sit? Who do you hang out with? Where do you find the supplies that you need? That’s why we love to see companies going the extra mile with their employee onboarding.

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on several Boston companies that have fantastic onboarding processes. From neon signs, to CEO one on ones, to photo shoots, to hot sauce as desk swag, these trailblazers are taking a personalized approach to new hire welcome packages and setting the bar high:

1. Grasshopper

While Emma Siemasko is no longer the Content Marketing Specialist for Grasshopper, her welcome there as a new hire was so memorable that she wanted to share it with us. We’ve also heard through the grapevine that their onboarding is fantastic, so here’s the inside scoop:

Grasshopper did an excellent job when I was there! They had this neon sign that they would put at the front of the office that said WELCOME, EMMA!

They also hosted a welcome lunch so she could get to know everyone —  which made her feel acclimated right away.

From the very first experience walking through the door to the entire rest of the onboarding process, Emma says new Grasshopper hires felt embraced and fully equipped to hit the ground running at the company.

2. Cybereason

Tommy Barth, Talent Acquisition Partner for Cybereason, and his team have put a lot of work into their onboarding package. Tommy explained to us how they built a program called Flight School for new hires:

They go through two full days of programmatic training, starting with a breakfast with our CEO, presentations from every member of our C-suite, a new hire happy hour at 5 p.m. (complete with a scavenger hunt), and then another full day of training and activities.

When a new hire  completes flight school they get their ‘wings’:

“We also send custom ‘Timbergrams’ to all of our new hires prior to their start date,” adds Tommy. Cybereason’s Timbergrams (essentially a wooden postcard) feature the company’s logo on the back and a message from a new hire’s future manager welcoming them to the team.

In case you're curious, here’s what a Cybereason Timbergram looks like:

3. DataXu

Next up, Rachel Waldmann, People Strategy Coordinator at DataXu gave us this inside scoop: 

In order to connect new hires with the organization—no matter where they are based—DataXu offers two to four days of on-site training at our Boston headquarters in a ‘cohort’ environment. This way, new hires can meet each other and the rest of the team and feel set up for success right from the start.

As we mentioned in a previous post, giving new remote hires facetime is invaluable for forming team bonds and building company culture.

“Our new hire experience covers everything from the company’s history, to meet-and-greets with the company’s founders, to deep-dives into the product and our sales strategy, and an overview on how remote teams can collaborate across the world,” she says. Then, “we top it all off with a happy hour and lots of guacamole!”

For companies that embrace a remote culture, the onboarding process must be well thought out to be effective, and it sounds like DataXu has that locked down.

4. Panorama Education

Jessica Owen found herself quite impressed with the extensive onboarding she received when she joined Panorama Education as their Marketing Director. She shares:

I went through a week-long onboarding process to get to know the company, the different teams, and the culture before I dove into the tactical side of my role. They make room for small, informative meetings with team leads or reps so that new hires can understand how the business works.

To be sure employees feel connected to their fellow team members from day one, new hires at Panorama Education are asked to share their spirit animal so they can find and connect with like-minded individuals. Jessica’s spirit animal is an otter; we wonder what the rest of the team’s spirit animals are...

One last cool fact - new hires are added to Panorama Education's team page, where professional headshots disguise some pretty awesome baby/tween photos:

 Young professionals...

Young professionals...

 ... getting younger every year.

... getting younger every year.

5. Drift

We’ve written before about Drift's thoughtful approach to hiring — so it's no surprise that the messaging startup provides a great onboarding experience.

Aside from providing email introductions and a business overview to new hires, Drift has come up with a little twist - pairing new employees with someone not on their team so that they can learn the ins and outs of the product and the company from a slightly different perspective.

Drift's desk swag includes a copy of Drift CEO David Cancel’s book, Hypergrowth, as well as another book everyone in the company reads, The One Thing

And the knowledge sharing continues from a technical angle: “The last three new hires have been doing SQL training with the engineering team, to make sure everyone in the company is data-driven,” explains Keith Pescosolido, Director of Recruiting.

Drift's CEO also has dedicated office hours where employees — new or not — can share their ideas for the company, ask questions, and so on. 

If you think all this sounds pretty solid, it’s just the beginning. Keith says, “I don’t think our onboarding process will ever be set in stone; we’ll always be trying to level up.”

6. CarGurus

If you're into company swag, we know just the place for you to apply! Jarrett Mackin, Recruiting Manager for CarGurus showed us what new employees receive on their first day, and it is an intense assortment of items:


Jarrett says new hires go through some intense onboarding, as well: 

All new hires go through one-week training as a class, meeting with all of CarGurus leadership to better understand the company mission and departmental breakdown.

Then, depending on what position they are in — sales, engineering, support, marketing, and so on — the training will dive into a more specific area of focus.

7. Social Fulcrum

Social Fulcrum has some unique goodies of their own that they give out to new hires. We spoke with Victoria Hetz, Director of Project Management for the company, and she explained that when their most recent hire started, they gave her:

  • A card welcoming her to the team (it had a sweet unicorn on it!)
  • Champagne gummy bears

Besides that, she shares, “We take new people out to lunch for their first day — not just as a nice gesture, but to help them get to know the area around the office.”

 An indoor team lunch, thanks to the blizzard

An indoor team lunch, thanks to the blizzard

This approach is especially important for people new to the city or the office neighborhood; everyone needs to know where their new favorite lunch spot will be!

8. WordStream

WordStream takes a personal approach to employee onboarding, too. Ryan Harnedy, Account Executive for the company, says, “On my first day, they took all new hires out to the Capital Grille with the VP of Sales, who made it a point to talk to each of us individually.”

Also on his first day, Ryan’s new workspace was ready for action: 

My laptop and desk were all set up and there was a new laptop bag for me, along with a bunch of supplies and a guide to the office. Then they asked me for some personal information and sent out a company-wide email introducing all of the new employees to the rest of the company.

Sounds like a great first day!

9. 451 Marketing

The team at 451 Marketing adds a little spice to their onboarding process, so to speak...

Alison Howard, Director of Marketing, explains: 

In addition to some of the more standard items like branded computer bags, pens, and notebooks, new employees are inducted into our culture of ‘bringing the heat’ with a bottle of 451 Marketing hot sauce, developed exclusively for our agency by the makers of Mad Dog 357.

They also receive a copy of Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451. “451°F is the temperature at which paper burns, so it’s fitting for a digital marketing agency,” Alison says.

10. Imarc

To start, Imarc has a pet name for its team members: Imarcians. There’s no better way to feel like a part of the tribe than with an insider term of endearment! 

We spoke with Victoria Andersen, Office Manager at Imarc, who says that beyond a team welcome lunch on the first day, new hires get the star treatment:

Later that week it’s time for their Imarc glamor shots, #vogue. In addition to the classic headshot, we encourage them to do a few ‘fun shots’ with a prop of their choice; from skis to golden retrievers —  we’ve seen it all. Then, just like that they’re official and up on our team page. 

Onboarding at Imarc wraps with a session led by the company’s brand director: “The brand immersion is perhaps the most important part of our on-boarding process. From our first green cube logo from nearly 20 years ago, to our present day five core elements, every facet of the brand is broken down and explained how and why it came to be. We feel it’s critical that the Imarc brand is understood and embraced by everyone that becomes a part of our team,” explains Victoria.

We love seeing so many employers welcoming their new hires in such creative and unique ways — and we're sure this post only scratches the surface of the companies doing it right in Boston.

Has a company ever made you feel special on your first day? Does your current employer go the extra mile to make new hires feel welcome?

If you’re based here in Boston and want to share your company’s onboarding process, comment below with the details. We can’t wait to see some more excellent examples!