Making an Impact: How 2 NYC Companies Instill a Sense of Purpose and Belonging in New Hires

An interview with two new hires about the hybrid onboarding practices that made them feel at home and able to make a difference.
Written by Taylor Rose
March 13, 2024Updated: March 22, 2024

Belonging is one of the most basic human motivations. 

In recent years, the effects of feeling a sense of belonging have become more thoroughly studied and documented. If someone believes they belong somewhere, it’s more likely that they will do better in school, be considered a better employee and even have a longer life expectancy. In contrast, a meta-analysis of 70 studies by the National Library of Medicine found that someone who feels isolated encounters the same kind of health problems as someone who smokes nearly a pack of cigarettes a day. 

Feeling a connection to a new environment is paramount. Just ask one of the 26,000 students who took part in a “belonging intervention,” as documented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Students at 22 colleges and universities were given access to self-guided “interventions” — many of which simply let students know that transitions are difficult for many people and provided them with personal stories from former students who had similar struggles. The result was impressive. Those who took part in the study were significantly more likely to complete their first year of college. 

Finding ways to make sure someone feels like they belong is crucial, especially during times of transition like starting a new school or day one of a new job. Built In spoke with two new hires, both of whom had meaningful experiences during their onboarding, made an immediate impact on their teams and found a sense of belonging in their new roles. 

 

Lynley Norberg
Client Manager • Cedar

Cedar is a healthcare payment and engagement platform for hospitals, health systems and medical groups that streamlines the patient experience.

 

Describe your onboarding experience at Cedar. What part of the process was particularly impactful?

A significant portion of my onboarding period was dedicated to engaging not only with colleagues within my immediate team but with individuals from other teams. I focused on gaining a better understanding of their roles and priorities, and I asked for their advice about what they wished they knew when they first joined. 

Investing time to develop relationships cross-functionally and within my own team has been crucial in understanding how the organization operates. This has empowered me to facilitate deeper collaboration to develop solutions aimed at better serving our clients.

 

Did you have any early wins or goals that you achieved shortly after joining Cedar?

I assisted in the analysis and development of the deliverables for a business review with one of our clients early on. Seeing the client resonate with the material during the meeting was extremely gratifying. The expertise shared by my teammates proved invaluable, empowering me at every stage of the process. Their trust and support played a key role in boosting my confidence for future client endeavors.

[My teammates’] trust and support played a key role in boosting my confidence for future client endeavors.”

 

How did Cedar help you establish a sense of community as you were onboarding? 

I was initially apprehensive about onboarding remotely when I came to Cedar. However, being part of an onboarding cohort across teams and participating in onboarding sessions together led by a number of Cedarians instantly alleviated the sense of confinement that often comes with virtual environments. 

Additionally, within the first six months at Cedar, the growth organization met at our New York City office for an onsite event. The opportunity to build relationships in person and share knowledge significantly enhanced my productivity as it enabled more effective collaboration and increased my sense of belonging on the team.

 

 

Greer Davis
Senior Manager, Training and Enablement • Findigs, Inc.

Findigs is a real estate fintech company that created an income and identity verification platform

 

Did the onboarding process at Findigs help you feel ready to make an impact in your role?

In a startup environment, onboarding can often feel ad hoc. Yet every person I spoke with during my first few weeks at Findigs, no matter their level, was willing to take the time to teach me about the product and discuss their own experiences and challenges within their role and team. 

My manager created a very clear onboarding plan for my role and within the team, as well as reasonable timelines to reach those targets. I felt comfortable in knowing my responsibilities, priorities and expectations. I was ready to dig in after only a few weeks.

I was also able to get a lot of context through impromptu conversations and scheduled sessions. My role was new, and everyone I spoke with was eager for me to hit the ground running. 

One notable event was our off-site retreat, which really propelled me into learning about Findigs, the roadmap and our goals for the future. Having this context has been key to creating documentation for all our customers.

 

Did you have any early projects that helped set the tone for your role on the team? 

I had the opportunity to create a set of training videos for our customers, who are property management professionals. The intent was to reduce the number of 90-minute live training sessions run by the onboarding team. It’s common that our customers’ teams are fairly large, so there were often people missing from training who would have to catch up later. It was clear there was an opportunity to reduce redundancies and create a self-service option for our customers as well.

I was able to complete the videos and start sharing them with customers within two months of starting at Findigs. Customers were able to complete the video training in about 25 minutes at their own pace, and, if they wanted, schedule a follow-up call, which is typically completed in under 15 minutes. 

The fact that just one of my projects has been able to reduce the training time by half or more has been incredibly rewarding and impactful. There’s such a clear correlation on how just one project can make things so much easier for both our customers and ourselves, and I have so much more to do.

The fact that just one of my projects has been able to reduce the training time by half or more has been incredibly rewarding and impactful.” 

 

Where have you experienced moments of connection and community at Findigs?

On a day-to-day basis, anyone,though especially new hires, can be automatically scheduled for a “donut buddy” with a random co-worker — either an in-person or virtual meetup where you can get to know each other on a personal level, outside the context of a project or team. 

If you happen to be in the New York City area and you work in the office, there’s lunch provided every day, and people tend to make it a point to sit at the communal tables and chat rather than eating at their desks. And for those of us who are hybrid or remote, one cultural trend that I wasn’t used to is the heavy use of the “huddle” feature in Slack — it’s so much easier to hop into an impromptu chat rather than type for twice as long.

I was lucky enough to start right before our company off-site event, which was two days of engaging brainstorming sessions, product and business presentations and legitimately fun team activities. My team won the scavenger hunt. I got to spend dedicated time with my new colleagues and set up our working relationships well for future work together.

So far my experience in the Findigs community has allowed me to really relax into my role and feel confident others have my back.

 

 

Read MoreHow to Create an Effective Onboarding-From-Anywhere Process

 

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