Onboarding is Unboxing

Onboarding is Unboxing

It seems that lately the chatter about how important people are to tech companies has been rising (this is surprisingly not surprising to me). However, this post isn’t about that… this time, we’re going to talk about unboxing. That’s right, unboxing like the kind some 15 year old kid makes videos for on YouTube. Specifically, I’m going to show you that onboarding is the same as unboxing.

So why care about onboarding? Onboarding new hires — whether or not you have an onboarding program — is an expensive investment. What’s even more expensive? Losing those new hires within 6–12 months. I calculated for a client once that it cost them about $350,000 to replace a junior engineer if she left at 12 months. We’ll go into that math another time, but suffice it to say, I’m not the one who’s going to explain to investors why a given company is spending millions of dollars on people not even on the payroll anymore.

Take it from the Aberdeen Group: A 2009 study of senior executives and people operations discovered that 86 percent of them felt that new employees make the choice to stay within their first six months. BambooHR also found that 16–17% of new hires in their 2014 survey of 1,000 people left between their first week and third month. PAUSE. This is ridiculous. This is expensive. This is painful for not just the new hire, but your company!

We can’t let that happen.

What to do… what to do? Let’s turn to product unboxing for some answers. Stick with me here, I promise it’ll make sense. First, what is unboxing? Harrison Dromgoole explains on the Ordoro blog that “it’s a social occasion that partially replaces shopping in bricks and mortar stores. When you can’t touch or feel the product unboxing videos provide transparent, human validation and a glimpse at the product in a way that’s unmediated by the brand.” He goes on to describe unboxing as both the actual product and marketing for your product. The customer’s experience begins the moment the package is delivered. The same is true for software and e-commerce — we don’t have to look far to see that initial user experience makes or breaks an app (see Samuel Hulick’s tear-downs for a primer!)

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Posted by Kristen Gallagher

Kristen Gallagher
Kristen Gallagher is an organizational strategies and learning designer. Specializing in onboarding systems, manager development, and knowledge management, Gallagher delivers programs that are designed to evolve and scale with rapid changes. She is the founder and CEO of Edify and has architected and delivered onboarding programs for companies bringing on just one person a quarter to 50+ people a quarter.

She brings over eight years of learning design, business development, and program operations and strategy to Edify. She guides growing tech companies to create amazing people systems, learning programs, and cultures that scale. Kristen speaks on human resources, human centered design, learning & development in technical environments, and integrated people operations across the country. Informed by her interests in technical product design, art history, contemporary Southeast Asian art, and museums, Kristen brings an iconoclastic approach to designing and implementing learning programs in tech environments.

She's spoken and taught at Learning Dev Camp, ATD Cascadia, ACTW, Refresh Portland, Product Tank, PHRMA, and dozens of other conferences. Effective, efficient programs, events, and strategies are what motivate her, and in every project, she engages teams to understand trade-off’s, make data-driven decisions, and design evolvable solutions.