Agencies don’t do much half-heartedly (except perhaps make Powerpoint decks.) So the arrival of a new employee is often a big deal.
Most agencies provide some sort of “onboarding kits” to help new hires acclimate — and they take them seriously enough that two agencies who were contacted for this story said they were in the process of “re-designing” them and that Digiday should check back in March.
Here are a few of the best.
Sub Rosa, which oversees the Pantone Color of the Year campaign, includes in its kit a Pantone Color of the Year mug (this year in Rose Quartz and Serenity), Moleskine notebook and design pens. There’s also “Sub Rosa” branded stationary and pens to encourage employees to communicate. “Handwritten notes can go a long way,” said Vivian Lee.
Before newbies even begin at this agency, a postcard arrives welcoming them to the agency with a link to a map with restaurants and activities in the agency’s downtown Manhattan area. At the desk on the first day: A hoodie, T-shirt, a hat and a winter cap. And if you make it through your first week: A bottle of whiskey.
The main part of the Walrus onboarding kit is a guidebook that covers the basics of setting up at the agency. But the real attraction is the cover, which features agency inside jokes. So Frances doesn’t like redneck jokes because she’s from Charleston, while Val is “hard to understand” because she’s from Scotland. “It shows the built-in sense of humor at Walrus and gives newbies an idea of what they’re in for,” said a spokesperson.
A baseball cap; a binder of employee bios called “The Next Best Thing to Seeing Us in Our Underwear”; a book on creativity and the soundtrack of “This is Spinal Tap” featuring 11 songs (the source of the agency’s name.) “Our onboarding materials give new employees a sense of the vibe here — so far, with good success,” said Shannon Roy, copyeditor.
Havas Worldwide Chicago
Havas Worldwide Chicago gives out a swag bag and even has an onboarding theater, complete with a neon Havas sign and leather bucket seats. The agency also plays this video. “Day One is the most important day in your new employee’s time at your agency,” said CEO Paul Marobella. “Our Day One program is built to indoctrinate them into our way of thinking, what we value, how we have fun and what to expect on their journey.”
Saatchi and Saatchi Wellness
“Everything they will need” is how global chief creative Kathy Delaney describes the content of the agency’s grab bag. It includes notebooks, water bottles and a coloring book with drawings of local hot spots around the office. “The idea came from members of the team as a fun, interactive way to get to know the neighborhood and take a break from their work to blow off steam,” said Delaney. The agency also has a weekly gallery night, where the team votes on the best piece of artwork from the books.
This Minneapolis agency takes its onboarding seriously: It asks people to write “mono vows” about what the job means and their goals. Everyone gets a welcome book and a personalized happy hour. “From Day One, we want people to know that mono isn’t just the place they work at. It’s the place that they are here to help grow and improve,” said Julie Vessel, director of talent.
DDB San Francisco
The agency sends a Town Car to pick up new employees on their first day. At their desk, they’ll find a hoodie, water bottle and flowers to greet them. And everyone gets a gift card to a local coffee spot so they can get to know their new co-workers.
J. Walter Thompson
This agency gives out the usual hoodies and water bottles, but the shop’s talent department recently introduced a new app. “OnBoard Express” lets employees find out more about the shop’s history, internal resources and its executives.
This agency has as the centerpiece of its welcome kit one of its signature tote bags. Each one is different (see the full collection here) and was designed by someone at the agency. Depending which office you start in, you get a pencil, the bag, notebooks, post-its and chocolate.