Sandbox is founded on the idea of fruitful collaboration across the entire organization. That’s why we created the Sandbox University onboarding program, a multi-faceted internal training curriculum designed to educate our employees in the best ways to work and collaborate effectively with any teammate – whether they’re down the hall or across the continent. While especially important for new hires and agency colleagues who’ve just joined Sandbox, the onboarding program is a place where everyone in the agency can come to learn about our business, capabilities and clients. They also learn how we work – the culture, practices and processes that enable us to “create better, together.”

The program takes place over a one-month period. Courses run within a one-hour timeframe, ensuring there is time for both content and conversation. As an agency founded on collaboration, our university is structured around the same principle. Trainers are engaged with learners both face to face and virtually, allowing everyone to get to know each other and interact on every topic.

In addition to laying the groundwork for effective collaboration, Sandbox University aims to reinforce our employees’ decision to join our organization. While the onboarding process represents one small piece of an employee’s journey, we embrace the realization that employees make judgments and form opinions about their organization every single day – including the day they join our agency. Initial impressions matter.

Based on our experience with Sandbox University, here are three key takeaways for a successful employee onboarding program.

1. Involve Everyone.

For any organization, integrating new, talented employees effectively and efficiently is critical to the health of the business. Institute a holistic onboarding program for all new hires to fully immerse themselves in every aspect of your business, including not only understanding all the organization’s capabilities and functions but also getting to know the leaders and team members within. Your employees work for your business, not just a specific department or team. Meeting both their day-to-day team members as well as teams that they may not regularly interact with will help make collaboration a seamless process.

2. Let Your Culture Guide the Way.

Nothing frustrates a new employee more than joining a company where the culture is presented one way in the onboarding process and then completely shifts a week into the job. You may be able to attract talented people by presenting a certain culture, but if you don’t live it and breathe it every day, you won’t keep them. As you design your employee onboarding program, it’s important to ask yourself, “Is our unique company culture reflected here?” If not, you may want to rethink your approach.

3. Tap Your Leaders.

It’s not enough to create a robust curriculum. To optimize effectiveness, involve your leaders in the development and execution of your program. Their passion, experience, expertise, history and communication skills will ensure the onboarding experience is both highly valuable and highly engaging. After all, if you are not fully leveraging the onboarding experience to win hearts and minds, what are you saying to your new hires? They might as well work anywhere.

From the trainers and the content developers to the learners and teams that try to do the best work of their lives, it takes a company-wide effort to make the promise of single-agency collaboration come true. Knowing that time is such a limited commodity, we must be relentless in ensuring our onboarding program is successful in helping us create collaboration-ready colleagues.