Effective Employee Onboarding Strategies With Improv

Introducing an effective onboarding process is paramount in addressing a persistent issue faced by numerous industries. Losing any valuable employee is definitely difficult, but the loss of recently hired people hurts considerably more. The estimate that the costs associated with replacing them might be up to double the employee’s yearly income. This takes into account the costs related to hiring, onboarding, training, and finally reaching maximum employee engagement and productivity.

Improv: A Key to Engaging Onboarding

One out of every six new workers had pondered leaving because of a poor onboarding process, according to a quickly drill-down of those new-hire survey answers, which provides valuable insight into a prevalent cause of why many new recruits leave so soon.


Which raises several crucial queries:

    • Are new hires being duped in any way?
    • What’s it like for new hires at your business after the wooing and dating of the hiring process, and they finally walk through the door after saying “yes”?
    • When was the last time your HR department received praise for successfully including every employee, even the new ones?


In fact, with the talent shortages and the pressure on retaining employees, HR should take a lesson from the marketing department. This is a battle for eyeballs and attention spans. It’s about authenticity and messages that truly engage people–breaking through the clutter by being genuine, more transparent, spirited, and even entertaining.

Learning from The Second City: Winning Audiences

Some companies like Zappos excel at attracting the best and keeping them. Last year alone, Zappos had more than 31,000 job applicants and hired just 1.5% of them. And the company’s unique month-long onboarding program wins accolades for stressing both cultural fit and customer service–both of which are key to delivering the “wow!” that defines the Zappos brand.


One key challenge in onboarding employees–like many of the challenges around HR–involves winning them over. And from my perch, that’s about winning audiences–something that we know a lot about at The Second City, the world-renowned improvisational theater company.

Ideas To Strengthen New Employee Onboarding Process

Don’t pre-record welcome messages – Leaders who truly value their employees understand the importance of personal connection during onboarding. In today’s tech-savvy world, there are no excuses for leaders not to appear in person or via teleconference. Group onboarding provides the perfect opportunity to deliver an authentic welcome and reinforce corporate values and culture. Consistency in messaging throughout the onboarding process is crucial for setting and managing new employee expectations. An excellent example of this approach is Netflix, which starts day one of onboarding with executive management introducing technology, culture, mission, and vision.

Use personal storytelling to express employee culture

Give corporate policies life by using narrative. Real-world employee examples of flexible scheduling will serve to highlight the flexible work strategy. Don’t merely state the diversity and inclusion policy; instead, share your own experiences with inclusion. Showcase current team accomplishments to highlight the importance of age-inclusive, diverse teams in innovative problem-solving. They simply need to look for genuine diversity and inclusive businesses; they have inspiring stories to tell.

Don’t give all the responsibility to HR

HR plays a vital role in recruiting and onboarding new talent, but creating a welcoming employee culture is a shared responsibility across the organization. To demonstrate the value of new employees, provide insights into every aspect of the company. In larger companies, have senior representatives from each business unit explain their roles and contributions to the company’s success. For smaller organizations, leaders can discuss critical business drivers, helping new employees understand their role in overall success and the bigger picture.

Allocate enough time to cover the fundamentals

Commencing a new job can be exhilarating, but overwhelming too. Optimal onboarding doesn’t involve cramming all information into a few long days. It starts with orientation, but it extends far beyond paperwork. Enhance the process by incorporating diverse activities, encouraging interaction and movement. Infuse the session with fun games and interactive elements, fostering camaraderie among new employees while they also learn about the company.

Don’t omit delicate topics

Transparency serves as a powerful trust-builder in the workplace. New employees, in particular, are keen observers of authenticity. Communicating sensitive business matters openly not only fosters trust but also allows new hires to feel involved in finding solutions.


Using Improv in the Onboarding Process

Improv, as a form of theater and communication, can play a significant role in enhancing the onboarding process and making it more engaging for new employees. 

Here are some ideas on how to incorporate improv techniques into the onboarding process:

    • Improv Workshops – Organize improv workshops during the onboarding process. These workshops can help new employees build confidence, improve communication skills, and foster creativity. Improv exercises can also encourage teamwork and collaboration among new hires.
    • Role-Playing Scenarios – Use role-playing exercises based on real-life workplace situations to help new employees understand how to handle various challenges they might encounter in their roles. Improv allows them to practice responding to unexpected scenarios in a safe and supportive environment.
    • Icebreaker Games – Begin the onboarding process with improv-based icebreaker games to break the ice and create a relaxed atmosphere. These games can help new hires get to know each other and build camaraderie from the start.
    • Storytelling Activities – Incorporate storytelling activities into the onboarding process. Improv techniques can help new employees share their experiences, skills, and aspirations with their colleagues, fostering a sense of belonging and connection within the team.
    • Improv for Public Speaking – Public speaking can be nerve-wracking, especially for new employees who might need to present their work or ideas. Integrate improv exercises that focus on public speaking and presentation skills to help new hires become more confident and effective communicators.
    • Improv for Adaptability – In a dynamic work environment, adaptability is crucial. Improv exercises can teach new employees to embrace change, think on their feet, and remain flexible in various situations.
    • Incorporate Playfulness – Infuse a sense of playfulness and humor into the onboarding process using improv techniques. This can help reduce stress and anxiety associated with starting a new job and create a positive and enjoyable onboarding experience.
    • Improv Showcase – At the end of the onboarding period, consider organizing an improv showcase where new employees can demonstrate the skills they’ve learned. This showcase can be a fun and interactive way to celebrate their successful completion of the onboarding process.

Elevate Your Onboarding Process and Empower Your New Workforce

By incorporating improv into the onboarding process, companies can create a more engaging and interactive experience for new employees. Improv can help build essential skills, improve communication, and foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture from the very beginning of a new hire’s journey with the organization.


Are you ready to transform your onboarding process and create a lasting impact on your new employees? Embrace the power of improv in your organization’s onboarding journey!


By integrating improv techniques into your onboarding program, you can:

    • Engage new hires from day one, making them feel welcomed, valued, and excited about their role in the company.
    • Foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture that promotes collaboration, creativity, and adaptability.
    • Enhance communication skills, public speaking abilities, and problem-solving capabilities among your new employees.
    • Build strong connections and camaraderie within your team, leading to higher employee satisfaction and retention.


Don’t let your new hires fall victim to a lackluster onboarding process. Stand out from the crowd and invest in their success. Let improv be the key to unlocking a world of possibilities for your organization and its newest team members.


Take action today and explore how improv can revolutionize your onboarding process. Your employees and your company will reap the rewards of a dynamic and engaging onboarding experience. Embrace the power of improv and set your organization on a path to greater success and employee satisfaction. The time to act is now!

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