How Astranis came together to create a great employee onboarding experience

Things move pretty quickly at Astranis. They have to. There’s a lot that needs to get done.

But as the team grew, People Operations got complex and fragmented. The team upgraded and added tools, collected more and more employee data in disparate and disconnected places, and as operations expanded the largely manual employee onboarding process got more complicated.

The entire onboarding process was held together by an unbelievable amount of effort by the People team. They were spending way too much time manually sending emails to new hires, collecting and updating employee data, and coordinating with all the teams and stakeholders involved in the arduous process.

It created too much work for the team, and it made it too difficult to collaborate on making the employee onboarding experience better.

Using Sora, the Astranis People team was able to integrate their HR tools, automate all of the emails they were sending manually, and create a shared onboarding process that they were able to collaborate on across the company to create the great onboarding experience that their new hires deserve.

About Astranis

Four billion people do not have access to the internet. Astranis is going to change that.

Old legacy internet satellites are as big as a double-decker bus and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and launch. That means it only makes economic sense to place them over population centers.

Astranis improves access to internet connectivity by making smaller and more powerful satellites at a fraction of the cost. They’re building the next generation of telecommunication satellites to bring the world online.


Connecting tools and getting the data right

Astranis’s new hire onboarding experience is full of employee data from beginning to end.

A lot of the standard things are in one tool and need to get into another. Like the employee’s home address, personal email, or job title that is collected in Lever, but needs to get into ADP. But then there are so many other pieces of information, like the employee’s allergies, t-shirt size, or laptop needs that needed to be collected and stored.

“There was employee data we just couldn't properly capture,” says Lauren Lowther, People Operations Manager at Astranis.

“We only had so many custom fields and we couldn't make those fields mandatory. And as a result, all this other employee data was spread out across spreadsheets.”

“And when it came to using that data, like ordering a new hire’s laptop, getting their desk set up in the right office, or getting them their company swag, it was all over the place, missing, or wrong.”

“We couldn't scale effectively and efficiently with our data spread out over 15 spreadsheets and wrong half the time,” says Lauren.

But with Sora, Astranis was able to connect the tools in their HR stack to send data from one tool to another.

“I’ve done a lot of integrations, and it’s always painful. But with Sora it truly wasn’t,” says Lauren.

Plus Sora was able to collect and store all of the other random employee data in one secure place, so Astranis could ditch all the spreadsheets, and everyone could get the data they needed to do all the onboarding tasks to give their new hire the great employee experience they deserve.

Better, more efficient communication

But the data is just the foundation of the onboarding process. On top of it is all of the emails and little tasks that it takes to get a new hire onboarded. And when those things fell on the People team to do manually, it was more than a little overwhelming.

“It was a really laborious onboarding process,” remembers Lauren.

“It starts as soon as a candidate is marked as hired. They get a welcome email from our CTO and they get a welcome email from me. In my email, I let them know what emails to expect in the next few weeks. We send a bunch of emails spread out to create an onboarding experience that's not just hitting you with everything all at once on your first day.”

And manually sending all of those emails takes up a lot of time, and creates a lot of overhead.

“I had twenty different pre-written email snippets. But it was all manual,” Lauren remembers. “And my calendar would be packed with these reminders of what emails I needed to send.”

It took up a lot of time and effort, and as inevitable, it broke down.

“If I was sick, the emails wouldn't get sent. Then the new hire would get another email the next day from their office manager that referenced something in the email that they never got. It just got all jumbled.”

Now with Sora, as soon as the candidate gets marked as hired, things start happening. Surveys are sent, emails get queued up, and tasks assigned. Without an avalanche of calendar reminders, without Lauren pasting a ton of different snippets and hitting send.

“Between connecting tools, getting the data right, and automatically sending emails, Sora saves me at least half a day of work a week,” Lauren says. 

Emails get automatically sent at the right time in the employee’s time zone, with all the right information.

“And it’s not just emails! We set up Sora to send Slack messages too. Prior to the new hire’s first company All-Hands meeting, they get a Slack reminder letting them know that they’ll be asked to introduce themself to the whole company on stage. We want to make sure they have ample time to prepare so they’re comfortable and at ease, because speaking in front of a big group can be an anxious moment.”

And now that the People team has built a process to save so much time, they’ve got the resources to collaborate and make the new hire experience even better.

Collaborating across teams to craft a better employee experience

It’s a big win to get all those tasks automated, but Lauren’s goal was bigger than that. She didn’t simply want to get Astranis’s existing process in Sora. She wanted to create a culture where everyone involved in employee onboarding could work together to collaborate on making it better. Crafting a great employee experience isn’t something that HR can do on its own. Everyone has to chip in.

“We don’t just have our HR and People Ops team using Sora. It’s everyone: facilities, IT, hiring managers, team leads, and directors,” Lauren says. “We can collaborate together to communicate and coordinate better, and to make the new hire’s experience better.”

"Before we had Sora, it was tedious to keep track of every new hire accommodation and make sure that we were communicating all new updates to everyone that needed to know," Lauren remembers.

Now with Sora, everyone gets looped in and has visibility on everything. Things don’t slip through the cracks. And it’s made a difference. Astranis can see it in the company’s culture and onboarding survey results.

“Overall, our employee surveys are a lot more positive,” Lauren says with pride.

But they’re not done yet!

“We get great suggestions from new employees on ways we can make onboarding better. It’s great to receive feedback/suggestions and know that we can implement that into Sora.”

At Astranis, everyone can be empowered to make an impact. When Phoebe Lam joined the team, Lauren spent about 30 minutes showing her how the Sora platform works.

“It’s so user-friendly,” Phoebe says. “I clicked around in Sora for a bit, looking at the workflows, and everything just clicked.” 

And that mentality continues to spread.

“Different teams have reached out to me requesting specific employee data to use for certain tasks and projects,” Phoebe says. “Before, we would have to log into ADP and generate a report each time. Now I can say, ‘Hey, a lot of this is in Sora! And it’s really easy for you to access this information.’ Employees can log into Sora and filter out the exact data they need. It saves a lot of back and forth messaging in between, it’s great.”

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