Storytelling for Employee Onboarding

Transform Your Employee Onboarding Process

team listens to story delivered virtually

Your employee onboarding process can make or break the relationship new hires form with your company. Stories create a warm and engaging welcome into your company’s culture as part of orientation and compliance. It’s the difference between, “Welcome and here is your desk” and “Let me tell you a little bit about why we do what we do, and how you can succeed.”

Stories Hold Valuable Knowledge

Stories are a form of knowledge that is tangible, emotional, and easy to recollect and apply. Stories have a humanizing effect: they are about people, what they do, and what they’ve learned on the job. Throughout history stories have been an effective means to build trust and ownership and create transparency. When new hires listen to carefully crafted stories told by stakeholders in your organization, they organically connect to your mission while gaining clarity about their roles. Their onboarding experience transforms into a cultural journey in support of their success.

Narativ's Onboarding Program

We bring 20 years of listening and storytelling experience to our employee onboarding program. We have worked with Fortune 500s and large non-profits to use narrative in creating stronger cultures and supporting initiatives. We find the stories that matter most and turn them into fascinating learning content through video production and learning content development. Finished stories enhance and enrich your existing LMS. Or, Narativ’s own Story Library offers a lightweight content-management system to categorize, interrelate, and search stories. Our program is delivered over 6 phases that include discovery, workshops, coaching, production, LMS deliverables, and impact measurement. Download the one sheet for more detail.

onboarding powered by storytelling roadmap

Follow the roadmap

Stories Enhance Learning Content

When used in onboarding, storytelling:

  • brings key ideas to life through memorable moments and relatable experiences
  • accelerates understanding because of the mind’s natural inclination to absorb and retain story information
  • surfaces new knowledge that can have a transformative impact on onboarding outcomes
  • scales mentorship through personal stories of leaders or managers
  • creates a repository for organizational memory

What Our Clients Say

Our clients have reported these positive impacts from integrating storytelling into their onboarding or training program:

  • cuts down on the learning curve (6 months to 6 weeks in one case)
  • helps to avoid common mistakes made in the first month
  • creates a sense of belonging and ownership within the first week
  • builds relationships and supports teamwork
  • integrates seamlessly with existing onboarding strategies and platforms

“Instead of having to go in right away with no background about what to expect, people are far more prepared for that first meeting. The other impact has been performing at a higher level.”

—Caroline Nobo Sarnoff, Measures For Justice

Case Study: Measures for Justice

Our work with Measure for Justice demonstrates how one mentor’s stories were used to train a cohort of new hires.

download the case story

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Narativ’s process for creating stories for employee onboarding?

Everything we do begins with listening. That is our approach to a Discovery phase, the beginning of our process. Listening is especially important when it comes to storytelling because company narratives come in two flavors: established, “branded” stories; and stories that live within the current moment and reflect change and growth. Those need to be “listened out,” crafted and integrated.

In addition to listening, storytelling coaching is key to our process. We collaborate with you to identify people that will be telling stories for onboarding and coach them in finding, crafting and presenting their stories. Stories from their peers are what make for an entirely more engaging and responsive onboarding experience from the new hire’s perspective. See the entire process in our One Sheet.

How does storytelling improve new hires' engagement

We understand employee engagement as essentially a process of assimilating values through storytelling. This is nothing more than harnessing a human being’s innate receptivity to storytelling as a means to imagine and imprint your culture in the hearts and minds of new hires.

When employees live by the values of the organization, they feel a sense of belonging and like their voice matters. By seeing their role through the stories of people who’ve been in their shoes, they remember and integrate key knowledge while being empowered to bring their own life and work experiences to the job. Our onboarding program doesn’t only give tools to be better prepared for one’s new job, it boosts people’s confidence by highlighting the importance of their own story. When we are actively engaged in the crafting of our own story, we are shaping how we want to express ourselves, rather than being spoken for by others. This gives new hires a sense of agency that in turn creates a higher level of engagement. 

How does it increase role clarity?

An example is best. At Measures for Justice, field workers seeking criminal justice data often face challenging interactions with the local police chiefs, attorney generals, or law clerks. There was no way to prepare them for these spontaneous and unpredictable encounters except for shadowing a seasoned employee. 

When we collected stories from that employee and new hires listened to those, they had a measurable improvement in their confidence to meet those challenges—before event setting out the door! An additional benefit was training time and expense were greatly reduced with the removal of in-person shadowing (necessitating extensive travel and attendant expenses). 

Turn your employees into storytellers capable of transforming your organization!

two employees telling stories near a watercooler

How do we replace the watercooler conversation?

Subscribe to Narativ to unlock this webinar

caroline nobo sarnoff