Providing a connection-driven onboarding experience

IRL is growing rapidly but their onboarding process wasn’t scaling with them. They could no longer keep up with all of the work that goes into creating an exceptional onboarding experience for their new hires, without changing the way they managed their workload. They knew they had to reduce the manual nature of their tasks because they weren’t willing to let the employee experience suffer.

Sora gave IRL’s People team the ability to streamline the workload that came along with their growing company, while maintaining, and improving on, the onboarding experience they desired for their new hires. Now that they’re able to create custom workflows and automate previously manual tasks, they can work on projects they didn’t have time for in the past.

About IRL

On average, US consumers spend 5 hours on their phones each day. IRL exists to connect us in reality. Their goal is to help people spend more time with their friends in the real world to boost their overall happiness.

IRL makes it easy and fun to send and receive invites to hang out with friends in real life, while taking the pressure off the receiving party to opt into something they’re not interested in. IRL is working to bring humans back to humanity, so we can all live a little happier.


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Weaving automation with human connection

“Over my 10 years working in the people space, I must have onboarded thousands of new hires,” Mina Hogan, People Ops lead at IRL, calculates roughly in her head. “Onboarding is always a balance between focusing on completing all tasks we need done and making it a good human experience for the new hire.”

There are a bunch of boxes that need to get checked during the onboarding process. Forms signed, information collected, emails sent.  People teams at companies like IRL need to onboard a lot of new hires and there are a lot of important tasks that come along with that. But at the same time, it’s also someone’s very first experience with their new company. A person in a new situation with thoughts, questions, and potential concerns.

“What I love about Sora and workflow automation is that it brings together those two sometimes conflicting aspects of onboarding: efficiently getting things done and providing a good human experience,” Mina says.

“We can make sure things are getting done and people are moving through the process, but we can still engage with all new hires individually so they never feel like they’re just being pushed through the process.”

With Sora, IRL is able to automate the tedious work of the onboarding process. They’re able to automatically send all of the emails and communications at the right time for each new hire. They can send surveys to collect information and assign tasks to make sure things get done. But there’s always a human behind it.

Everything automatically comes from someone at IRL, just as if they sat down in Gmail and wrote it up right then, just for that new hire. And if a new hire responds with a question or concern, the reply goes right to the sender’s inbox so they can address it. That’s something a checklist in a spreadsheet just can’t do.

“A spreadsheet cannot talk back to you,” says Nichelle, Cultural Facilitator and People Ops Support at IRL. “It can't give you those friendly reminders or quick pings. It can track information, but it can’t create back-and-forth communication.”

Bringing a human element to onboarding is crucial for making new hires feel like they’re an integral part of the company and set up to succeed long term. New hires need that connection to know the company cares and can deliver on the promises made during the hiring process.

“Creating that connection with new hires and existing employees – particularly in ways that don’t take a ton of your time, but have a great impact – is key,” says Nichelle.

Refining the process for a better experience

“We’re a highly agile, fast-paced organization and on the People side we want to feel as dynamic as the rest of our organization,” Mina says. “Sora allows us to do that.”

“Sora is really easy to adapt to different use cases. It's simple to make updates to push things out quickly and it's very dynamic.”

IRL is permanently remote and things are always changing and being improved in the onboarding process. Having an easy way to effectively communicate with their new hires - and other employees who are part of the process - throughout onboarding is crucial.

“People-functions are very ad hoc and slightly reactive, but there is intention and strategy behind everything we do,” Mina says. “Everything is a workflow. If it requires an input and an output then it can be automated.”

And when you’ve invested in automation, it can almost feel like you’ve got another member on the team.

“Sora is like an extension of your team - it brings the rigor to what you're trying to accomplish and provides the structure to automate a lot of it, which is just tremendously helpful.”

Sora allows for easy, quick updates to workflows so new hires don’t ever feel the reactive nature of those people-functions that are constantly changed or refined. IRL can personalize their  interactions, without delay, to nurture that human connection.

“It doesn't feel like it's a huge lift to undo things and then put them back together, which is awesome,” Nichelle remarks.

They can quickly assign tasks and update messages to accommodate different factors like location, home office needs, and personal preferences for communication. 

“A lot of people have tried to figure out their own system for onboarding,” Nichelle observes.

Typically those systems involve a lot of spreadsheets, copy-paste emails, and one-off pings.

“It’s been really cool to be able to find a tool like Sora that we can use to help us constantly curate and improve our process.”

To determine which areas of their onboarding process to refine, Nichelle and Mina talk to the employees who have gone through it about their experience.

“We've gotten a lot of feedback from people who have onboarded and incorporated it within the second iteration,” says Nichelle. “We had the capacity and a foundation with Sora that was strong enough to expand out and do a little more than what our first iteration was. It’s been super cool to be able to grow with the tool.”

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