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Why Offering New Employees An Onboarding Refresher Program Will Have Stronger Results Than Day-One Onboarding

No matter the size or status of your company, adequately onboarding new employees is essential to both their and the company’s overall success.

Well-onboarded employees who go through a successful onboarding program who are understanding of your company’s mission, after all, are longer-tenured employees.

But onboarding, as it’s traditionally delivered, can be unintentionally stressful.

Consider it from the employee’s perspective. Often, onboarding entails trying to digest an immense amount of information in an unreasonably short period of time. New employees learn elements of your company structure and org chart. They review the business direction, and up to hundreds of names, just to list a few. For many, it’s simply impossible to learn so much new stuff delivered over the course of one, two, or even five days.

Condensed Onboarding Programs Mean Information is Lost

As a result, many employees end up spending the next handful of weeks playing catch-up, not adding as much value as they potentially could.

This is something my team and I at Honey learned the hard way.

In our earlier days, we had all new employees undergo the basic administrative onboarding experience over their first week. What we realized, though, was that come to the end of that week if employees did manage to hold onto the information we’d shared, they didn’t necessarily know why it mattered.

Onboarding Program

They’d ask questions they should have known the answer to. Or they’d make decisions that didn’t align with our mission or ethos. And these were smart hires with good intentions. It didn’t make sense.

So we started searching for the disconnect. Where we found it? Our onboarding sequence.

In short, it didn’t allow people the appropriate time, space or context to develop a true understanding of our company, its story, and what exactly makes us unique.

We knew we had to fix that.

As a result, we built and implemented an onboarding “refresher course” held for new employees after their first month with the company.

This refresher course is designed to most effectively reiterate to employees important things they need to know. It reviews what they might’ve forgotten from that information-packed first week.

Yes, adding a refresher course has made our onboarding process longer. But by providing employees with this initial education over a longer period of time, we allow them the chance to dive deeper into the presented material. They are able to think more comfortably and with more perspective about the economics of informing our business. They can also then and ask questions alongside their peers.

This, in turn, enables them to think about all the material on their own terms. Employees can draw important parallels to their work and bridge any gaps in understanding.

By the time their refresher course hits, employees not only have the intelligence and insight they need to do their job well, but they can speak on the company’s goals and core values. They can also address the company’s current standing and its plans for growth and maturation. And if they still have questions? It gives them the perfect opportunity to take the floor to fill in any gaps we might’ve missed.

We still, of course, provide employees with onboarding over their first few days, focusing first on administrative matters.

But removing the pressure of having to cram everything into a one, two, or three-day stretch means we can more purposefully scaffold their learning experience, which ultimately better positions employees to contribute to the company’s larger mission.

In fact, the real goal of onboarding programs is to prepare your employees to actively contribute to your company’s growth.

In a perfect world, would it be amazing if you could so equip your people with the kind of multi-layered understanding they need to perform well in just one or two days?

Of course.

But the simple truth is that it’s just not feasible. And companies should take notice of how overwhelming onboarding can be in its current design. We should strive to empathize and then tailor onboarding in order to most effectively achieve its key purpose.

The important thing when it comes to onboarding, after all, is that your employees graduate from it ready to further your company’s progress.

The speed with which that’s accomplished is less important than the fact that it’s accomplished in the first place.


Glen is the Chief Operating Officer at Honey, where his main responsibility over the last 3 years has been to scale the company rapidly and efficiently while focusing on a culture of excellence.  Prior to Honey, Glen co-founded and raised $3M for the social media app, Convoz, alongside Grammy award-winning musician Chamillionaire. He was previously at Twitter heading up their enterprise relationships for the data business, Gnip, where Glen was working prior to its acquisition by Twitter.  In the last 20+ years, Glen has shipped software at Microsoft, Palm, Good Technology, Sprint, and America Online. He received his MS from George Washington University.