Storytelling in Employee Induction and Onboarding

new employee onboarding

IT powerhouses such as TCS and Infosys are reporting lower-than-expected profits in Q4 2022 as they invest more in hiring and retaining employees. Many businesses are dealing with similar issues.

Companies have been on a hiring spree since the post-pandemic resignation frenzy. And they recognise that their human resource practises will need to catch up. It takes a lot to keep employees engaged and productive. And new employee induction programmes are a great place to start.

Many companies’ onboarding programmes aim to introduce new employees to the company’s vision, mission, and work culture. It also helps new hires in gaining an understanding of the larger organisational goals to which they are expected to contribute. In many cases, it also sets up performance expectations for new hires.

Some onboarding programmes include free gifts, lavish lunches, and videos of employee testimonials explaining how the company is a “great place to work.”

Most new hires find the initial induction programmes to be an information overload, with videos and powerpoint decks boasting of the “great environment,” “achievements,” and “tremendous growth opportunities.” Most of these will quickly become a blur in the new hire’s mind (unless the workplace is living and breathing the idea that the induction promised).

How can employee onboarding be made more fruitful?

3M uses storytelling during their onboarding to explain to new employees how things work. Instead of sharing detailed instructions outlining each step of the product development process, new employees are told stories about legendary product developers who defied the status quo to get their projects approved.

Patsy Sherman’s story is one such example. In 1952, a chemistry lab assistant accidentally spilled a few drops of liquid rubber mixture onto Patsy Sherman’s canvas sneakers.

Although the mixture had no effect on the look or feel of the canvas, they were unable to remove it from the shoes. Soap, alcohol, and other cleaning agents did not work. The cleaning solvents beaded up and ran off the sneakers “like water off a duck’s back.”

Sherman became fascinated by this chemical and began to form a new idea, which was to use this chemical to protect fabric from water and other fluids. She collaborated with other chemists to improve it and lower the price. After three years of work, this new mixture was patented and launched as Scotchgard Protector™. 

Employees at 3M are encouraged to set aside time to work on projects that interest them. Rather than stating their culture of innovation as a fact, using storytelling is a much more powerful way to get new employees to embrace the concept.

Employee onboarding is an important time to inform new employees about how the company operates and what they can expect in the future. Using storytelling to introduce the company to new employees is a meaningful and memorable way to do so. Stories make your company’s culture, policies, and benefits more relatable and “human.”

It takes time to find the right story to tell during onboarding. And one that has an impact on both the new hires and the organisation. Drop us a line if you want to discuss adopting storytelling for your company’s onboarding.

About The Author
Vinod Krishna

Vinod Krishna is a brand storytelling trainer and consultant at DustyPaths.
He brings 3 decades of experience in leading people, projects, and businesses
to forge new paths in storytelling, communication and leadership development.
He is an avid barefoot runner, trekker, theater artist, and photographer.
Connect with him on LinkedIn