AWeber does onboarding differently than any company I’ve ever heard of.”

So said People and Culture Manager Kathleen Herrmann, who is an advocate for the company’s standout onboarding program, which bucks administrative tasks in favor of human connection.

In the broader tech landscape, only 12 percent of new hires report a strong onboarding experience, according to Zippia, but AWeber’s onboarding program stands out from the crowd. Unlike the 58 percent of organizations focusing mainly on paperwork and processes, AWeber’s approach immerses new hires within its culture. 

Herrmann offered Built In a rich window into the company’s nontraditional onboarding methods.

The first six days of each team member’s journey aren’t spent learning about the role they were hired for. Instead, they are spent introducing new team members to AWeber’s product, culture and customers.

 

Diving into AWeber’s Product 

AWeber emphasizes practical, hands-on training. New hires participate in sessions that illuminate different departments and its product, fostering an unparalleled understanding of AWeber’s ethos. 

“Learning the ins and outs of our product itself,” as Herrmann puts it, is crucial for team members to grasp the impact of their work on customers.

In one exceptionally engaging activity, new hires place themselves in the shoes of their  customers — envisioning how they might utilize the product in the real world.

“New hires actually use our product to create and send out an email campaign either for their own side hustle or another local small business,” said Herrmann. 

Beyond flexing the technical capabilities of the product, the exercise cultivates a unique sense of empathy for the user’s experience, Herrmann explained. 

 

Meeting the Customers

“We challenge all of our team members to consistently strive to ‘Create Remarkable Experiences,’” said Herrmann. “We believe that a solid foundation of understanding who we are, the customers we serve and our mission sets them up to do just that.” 

 

We believe that a solid foundation of understanding who we are, the customers we serve and our mission sets them up to do just that.” 

 

To bolster this mission throughout the onboarding process, new hires are immersed into the world of the customer. 

“Training sessions unpack who our customers are and the problems they can solve using our product,” said Herrmann. “New hires even shadow our CS team as they help our customers on live support calls, chat and emails to gain a deeper understanding.” 

This focus allows new hires to engage with deeply people-centric learning during onboarding, a bold move in team member integration.

 

A Standout Culture

Another cornerstone of the intensive onboarding experience, Herrmann noted, is the buddy system: “Each new team member pairs with a buddy — someone who is typically on their team or in a similar role and can show them the ropes.”

Their buddy meets with them each day to form a relationship, answer any questions they might have, point them to the right Slack channels to join, show them where to find important documentation and beyond. 

Throughout onboarding, their buddy also leads “Meet the Team” sessions, where all team members across the company share their name, pronouns, location, tenure, role and a tried-and-true ice breaker: the fun fact.

“Fun facts are an amazing way to form connections and bonds with team members that you might not get to regularly work with but share the same hobbies and interests,” said Herrmann.

A striking facet of AWeber’s onboarding is its cross-functional nature. 

“An onboarding class could consist of a CMO, a customer solutions specialist and a software engineer,” said Herrmann.

As AWeber’s leadership expounds to new hires, the first week is as much about getting to know people as it is learning about the company. The crucial first days offer an opportunity to form cross-departmental connections, a feat that might be unheard of at another organization.

 

Off-Campus Connection

The company’s commitment to team bonding extends beyond computer screens. Although 100 percent remote, the team carves out time to meet in person once a year for an activity-filled retreat.

“These retreats, a blend of professional and fun events, are key to strengthening team relationships,” said Herrmann. 

 

AWeber team members river raft and paddle board at a company retreat. 
AWeber Communications

 

Team members can be found participating in a variety of events, including a mini product shark tank, engineering-led lightning talks, roadmap planning, communication-based team-building exercises, water rafting, escape rooms or even dancing the night away to a ’90s cover band.

As many professionals can attest, there is a difference between thinking a career move is a sound choice and realizing that to be true. At AWeber, a holistic onboarding process secures this realization as a first order of business.

“Meeting the team at AWeber is typically when new team members feel that they’ve made the right choice,” noted Herrmann. “When our new hires experience our team’s passion and the way we work together, they will absolutely know AWeber was the right choice for them.”

 

When our new hires experience our team’s passion and the way we work together, they will know that AWeber was the right choice for them.”

 

Investing in Success

AWeber’s onboarding strategy goes beyond conventional practices, shaping a team deeply connected to the company’s mission and values.

“The goal with our onboarding program, why we invest so much time and resources into all of our new hires during their first week, is that we want our team to truly understand the impact they have on the lives of our customers when they move into their actual roles,” said Herrmann. 

Through their commitment to a people-first experience, AWeber redefines the art of welcoming and nurturing talent — setting a high bar for corporate culture.

 

 

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