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Onboarding @ AgBiome

My name is Amber Smith and I work in the fermentation group here at AgBiome. When I’m not coordinating fermentation runs, I spend a lot of my time thinking about how we can get even better at the people-centric things we do, and today’s blog post is about onboarding.

Exciting probably isn’t the word most people come up with when they think about onboarding, if they even think about onboarding at all, but it’s definitely a word that comes to mind for me. Other words are important, meaningful, even difficult. You may ask, why do I care so deeply about onboarding?


As this great article from The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) points out, organizations often underestimate the importance of onboarding, especially when it comes to the business side. As the article notes, “69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.” Wow!

But onboarding is so much more than employee retention. It’s also about making employees feel welcome, helping them connect to their co-workers, and instilling a sense of belonging in the organization, which ultimately benefits the employees AND the company.

Here are just a few of the ways we at AgBiome work to ensure a great onboarding experience for new folks as they come in:

The talk with founders and co-CEOs Scott Uknes and Eric Ward: New hires are given an in-depth introduction to the company, including how important AgBiome’s mission is for the world, and why and how we have such a unique culture.

First two week’s schedule: The first two weeks are already planned out in advance, so it’s easier to begin integrating into the company and hopefully leads to a less overwhelming experience.

Buddies and Agents: New hires are assigned a buddy and an agent when they start. Buddies help with immediate needs (conference rooms, general work etiquette, etc) and are the contact person for the first couple of weeks. Agents are longer term and are there to help new employees feel at home in the organization.

Ride-alongs: We give our new employees exposure to all disciplines in the business, from planting seeds in the greenhouse to feeding stink bugs in entomology (no previous experience required!).

One of our mantras is that hiring is the most important thing we do and this includes onboarding. It’s not enough to hire the best people; the best people have to decide they want to stay with the company, which is why we spend so much time trying to give our new employees a fantastic onboarding experience.

I’ll close with this thought from Amy Hirsh Robinson from The Interchange Group: “Onboarding is a magic moment when new employees decide to stay engaged or become disengaged.” I, for one, am thankful that we believe in magic around here.

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