7 Simple Employee Onboarding Activities That Create An Emotional Connection

7 Simple Employee Onboarding Activities That Create An Emotional Connection
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Summary: You have to make them feel if you want to draw new hires in and put training into context. This guide features 7 simple employee onboarding activities that create an emotional connection.

Which Employee Onboarding Activities Foster Emotional Connectivity?

Most organizations recognize the importance of employee participation in onboarding training. They understand that motivation is a key factor in the process. And that new hires are more likely to engage when resources resonate with them on a personal level. But these companies overlook one very important component: feelings. You can’t expect them to get all warm and fuzzy about compliance. However, they should be able to empathize with in-course characters and immerse themselves in scenarios. All the real-world application in the world won’t change performance behaviors unless you create an emotional connection. These 7 simple and budget-friendly employee onboarding activities can help you captivate new hires.

eBook Release: The State Of Employee Experience 2023
eBook Release
The State Of Employee Experience 2023
Explore upcoming corporate culture trends and how employee experience can be improved via improving onboarding, training, and employee engagement.

7 Employee Onboarding Activities To Connect With Your New Hires

1. Personal Anecdotes

Personal stories let new hires know they aren’t alone. Someone else has experienced the same challenges and used their skills and knowledge to overcome them. It’s one of the most emotionally engaging employee onboarding activities because it involves real people they can empathize with. Just make sure you keep personal details to a minimum. For example, you don’t need to include a long backstory about the main character and why they chose their job position. Try to focus on a single incident or obstacle so that you can explore all the feelings, skills, and know-how that are involved.

2. Live Events With In-House Experts

Host live onboarding events with experienced employees as guest hosts. They can share their new hire struggles and offer pointers. They’ve been through it all before and know how to navigate the choppy waters of customer service/sales. Encourage in-house experts to choose a topic and develop an event outline. They can even write a script to ensure they cover all the key points. There should be some audience participation involved. For instance, the host throws in a few questions to make sure everyone’s still awake and/or test their knowledge.

3. Soft Skill Demos

Develop soft skill video demos that show new hires how to apply their talents in the real world. This is particularly helpful for soft skills training. It’s difficult to describe active listening or conflict resolution. However, they can watch the scenario play out in the video to see how it’s done. To learn the subtle nuances of effective communication and empathy. As well as spot personal areas for improvement. It’s a subtler way to help them reflect on their own performance behaviors and adjust their approach.

4. Group Discussions

Host online group discussions where new hires share experiences, stories, and tips. You can also invite more experienced staffers to offer their input. The goal is to get everyone to participate and build a better team dynamic. They get to see things from someone else’s point of view and tap into the power of in-house knowledge sharing. Set some guidelines so that everyone feels welcomed into the group and new hires aren’t’ alienated. Maybe encourage them to start with an icebreaker sub-group where they introduce themselves and get to know the team.

5. Peer Coaching Sessions

Conduct peer coaching or mentoring sessions that involve seasoned staffers and new hires. The experienced team members offer guidance and support until the new employees find their footing. It can either be one-on-one or in small groups, based on how many recruits you have and their personal preferences. Invite the pair/team to develop goals and communication guidelines. For example, they meet once a week to talk about progress and adjust their plan of action. They might even consider a closed social media group that allows them to share quick tips and keep in regular contact.

6. Task Tutorials With Customer Personas

Task tutorials aren’t necessarily known for their emotional connectivity. Watching someone perform a sales transaction usually doesn’t tug at their heartstrings. However, you can incorporate customer personas to improve practical application and evoke feelings. For instance, the virtual employee interacts with a customer who seems very irate and impatient. Provide a bit of background info about them and why they’re so upset. Trainees empathize with the persona and see where they’re coming from. They understand that the person is having an ‘off day.’ The tutorial includes pointers on how to diffuse the situation and actively listen to the customer's needs. Go beyond the task steps and dive into the extenuating circumstances.

7. WWYD Service Scenarios

Produce brief video scenarios that highlight a specific challenge or skill. The key is to make trainees think about the scenario. To put themselves in the character’s shoes and reflect on what they’d do differently to achieve a better outcome. For example, the employee in the video snaps back at a customer instead of trying to understand the circumstances. How would the trainee approach the situation? Which skills would they use to appease the customer and put things right? That’s when interactivity comes into play. They choose from a list of possible responses at the end of the clip, which redirects them to an alternate ending. As such, they’re able to see how their behaviors and actions lead to positive or negative consequences. You can also provide a basic text explanation if you want to take the simpler route.


Fostering an emotional connection with employee onboarding activities is a balancing act. You must still maintain professionalism but not to the point that content seems cold or aloof. Then again, you don’t want to make things so personal that new hires feel uncomfortable. Walking that fine line allows you to boost employee engagement and tap into their intrinsic motivation as the onboarding course resonates with them on a deeper level and fosters real-world application.

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