Onboarding Hacks: How to Deeply Engage New Employees
Recently at the Onboarding2025 conference in Silicon Valley, Salesforce Senior Director of Global Onboarding, Theresa Ludvigson, took the main stage to share Salesforce's “high-tech and high-touch” strategy for deeply engaging new employees.
Engaged employees are at the heart of our success story at Salesforce — and like many other tech companies, our employee population is booming! We welcomed more than 8,500 new hires into the #SalesforceOhana last year.
But today’s talent market is tough, as employee turnover is the highest it’s been in 10 years. And the pressure is on to engage new hires right away, with studies showing that 20% of employee turnover happens by day 45.
In today’s market, a great onboarding program isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s a business imperative.
So what’s the secret to effectively welcoming and engaging new employees? At Salesforce, our onboarding strategy is comprised of three core concepts: High-Tech, High-Touch, and Personalization.
Using high-tech tools to engage new employees
We’re a tech company, so naturally, we’ve built apps and tools that automate and augment some of the onboarding processes for which a human being isn’t necessary. Here are a few examples:
- New Hire Wizard Provisioning App. Instead of filling out clunky paperwork, our hiring managers use a simple app for provisioning equipment, access, training and space for their new hires. It’s accessible on any device, predictive (suggests what resources to equip new hires with based on other teammates), and can send push notifications to the hiring manager if they’re about to miss a deadline. Most importantly — no paperwork! This ensures everyone gets what they need on their first day, but it also saves hiring managers’ time and energy so they can get back to their day jobs faster.
- New Hire Email Journey. We want our Day 1 program to be fun, interactive, and energizing. So instead of blasting our new hires with a fire hose of information on their first day, we slowly drip out key information at the right time via a year-long, automated, personalized Marketing Cloud email campaign. It starts seven days before the employee’s start date, helping to ease those first-day jitters. We use data from our employee help desk and Chatter communities to inform the content, and we know it’s working because it has a consistent 90% open rate!
Whenever a process or task can be automated, we take that opportunity to relieve the burden and free up people to tackle things technology cannot do — like building personal connections.
High-touch tactics engage new employees immediately
The human touch is what wins the hearts and minds of employees — and that’s the key to deeper engagement.
At Salesforce, we know the experience on day one is crucial. Our new hires are joining the fastest-growing enterprise technology company in the world, and their first experience with us should be a reflection of our brand. That’s why we revamped our Day 1 program to be memorable, engaging and fun. No “death-by-PowerPoint” here, even for our remote employees. Interactive welcome events are designed to show new hires what makes Salesforce the #1 best workplace in the world. We also introduce them to our core values, and show them how to put our values into action right away. Our employees participate in their first volunteer activity just a few hours into their first day and learn that businesses can be a platform for change.
“Becoming Salesforce” is our new-hire cultural immersion program, which every employee is required to attend within their first 90 days. It’s a full-day experience featuring fireside chats with executives, values-focused breakout sessions, and volunteer projects in our local communities.
We place a huge emphasis on our high-touch programs because we know they foster the sense of belonging and community that makes new hires want to stick around.
Engage new employees by personalizing their experience
With an employee population of 35,000 and counting, we have to be intentional about personalizing our new-hire experience. One of the ways we do this is by pairing every new hire with a “Trail Guide,” a peer mentor that helps them get oriented and makes their experience feel personal. The Trail Guide is a confidant that new hires go to for guidance, support, and any questions they may have along the way.
We also require every employee to write and publish a goal plan (V2MOM) within their first 90 days. This is a business planning tool we use across the company to drive alignment, and it’s a powerful enabler to help individual employees find their unique purpose right away.
Onboarding employees is as much about technology as it is about the human connection. It’s about letting new hires know they’re part of something special — but that doesn’t happen by accident. By leveraging high-tech tools, high-touch tactics, and personalizing experiences, businesses can engage new employees faster, and speed towards employee success.