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How to make onboarding easier with Dropbox Paper

Successful onboarding is all about organization, planning, and communication. Collaborating in Dropbox Paper can make the experience far easier for you and your new hires.

An onboarding schedule template being created on Dropbox Paper

When you’re responsible for getting new hires set up for success on day one, there’s a lot of pressure to stay organized. Employees are counting on you to help them hit the ground running.

“Folks cannot do their best work and bring us to the next level if they’re stressed out about how they’re going to get to a meeting room, enroll in benefits, or when they’re first going to get paid,” says Joe Topasna, HR Operations Analyst at Dropbox. 

Some HR pros are finding new ways to reduce repetitive tasks and focus on making the experience more personal. At Dropbox, our People team uses Dropbox Paper to make onboarding easier. Paper is a collaborative workspace that can make just about every part of onboarding more efficient. To show you how, we spoke with some folks at Dropbox who are responsible for turning our new recruits into all-star employees. 

1. Templatize docs

W-4s. I-9s. Country Compliance Docs. Not the most inspiring way to say “Welcome to your new job,” right? Fortunately, there are ways to take some paper (and work) out of all the paperwork.

As every HR pro knows, the onboarding process is iterative. What worked a few years ago might not work today. For example, benefits information changes from one month to the next. So keeping all the related docs up to date can be a challenge. 

But whenever the Dropbox People team shares a Paper doc with an onboarding class, the team can ensure new hires have access to the latest details by updating text or adding links to related Paper docs.

“With Paper, we’re able to make a change in a doc and people can see it live, so we don’t have to send revisions,” says Dorena Sanchez, Benefits Employee Experience Analyst at Dropbox. “We can also comment and have people review different things right in the doc, which is really helpful for our team. We can iterate on our instructions at any time. New hires don’t even need to click refresh to see the changes.”

They also save time by using templates, which lets them avoid the hassle of creating a whole new batch of docs for each incoming class. When Dorena’s team reuses docs on a recurring basis, they use Paper’s “templatize” feature. 

The “templatize” feature in Dropbox Paper

Creating your own templates from Paper docs is easy. You can also use our ready-made templates to help your team kickstart projects with meeting notes, project plans, creative briefs, and more.

This week, we introduced a new hire onboarding template (shown below) that any company’s HR team can use. It’s specifically designed to make your team’s day one duties easier. Templates are available in English only, and soon will be available on mobile.

The Dropbox Paper new hire onboarding template

The Dropbox Paper new hire onboarding template

2. Provide easy checklists

With so much happening on day one, it’s easy to lose track of what needs to get done and when. That’s why our People team makes heavy use of checklists. With Paper, you can quickly make to-do lists, and assign people to each task with an @mention that sends them an email notification to let them know the date their task is due.

Animated screenshot showing checklist feature in Dropbox Paper

“We just implemented this benefits checklist late last year,” says Dorena. “Before that, it was a 60-slide presentation we would share with employees and just expect them to remember every single detail.” Dorena says she quickly realized this isn’t easy for new hires—especially when other teams are asking for their attention to complete forms. On top of all the paperwork, there’s the new job to learn. 

After implementing the Paper doc checklist, Dorena and her team found that it not only streamlines the process, it also helps new hires focus their attention on what matters most. “Now we can say at the beginning of the presentation, ‘Don’t try to remember this. Just refer to the checklist.’ People laugh, but really, they only need to remember the checklist.”

Screenshot showing Benefits checklist in Dropbox Paper

Assigning tasks and setting due dates in Dropbox Paper

Screenshot showing task assignment feature in Dropbox Paper

3. Add visibility and transparency

With the viewer info feature in Paper (shown below), the HR team can send a doc to new hires, then check back to see who’s opened it (and who hasn’t). This way, Dorena says they can make sure everyone who needs to be up to speed has received the information. “Sometimes we get questions like: ‘Where do I find this information?’ We’ll reply, ‘It looks like you haven’t opened this doc yet. This doc is going to be your best friend. Follow it step by step and you won’t miss anything.’”

Tracking progress with the viewer info feature in Dropbox Paper

Animated screenshot showing viewer info feature in Dropbox Paper

Plus, Paper lets anyone who’s been invited into the doc see the editing process as it happens. The team members who’ve been granted editing access can make changes, and two or more people can make revisions at the same time. Those who have only been given viewing access can add comments to ask about content or make suggested changes. Conversations that often get lost in email threads can be seen in context next to the content in the comments and replies.

Adding comments in Dropbox Paper

Animated screenshot showing commenting feature in Dropbox Paper

At Dropbox, we’re big believers in allowing employees to learn from each other as we’re working together and learn from our past through retrospectives. Paper helps new hires get up to speed quickly, since a single search in Paper yields docs from projects across the organization.

“We’re very transparent as a company about where could we have done better product-wise,” says Joe. “Anyone can search for a retrospective. That’s not something we restrict. At a company level, that’s the default. People are fascinated by that. New hires will come to me and say ‘I was at XYZ tech company and that stuff was under wraps.’ That’s something new for people.”

Of course, not every company has the same culture of transparency. For companies who only want to make certain content public, Paper is designed to allow IT admins to adjust who can view what through customized settings on every Paper doc. 

“I’ve worked at other non-tech companies and I’ve seen their process as a new hire,” says Dorena. “It’s physical paper and monotone instructions. I felt like the difference between onboarding here and at those other companies is automation and visibility of instructions. At other companies, they’d say, ‘Here’s how you enroll in benefits. Good luck.’ Here, we say, ‘Here’s how you enroll in benefits. And here’s how you find a doctor. And here’s how you make an appointment.’“

4. Streamline responses to new hire inquiries 

On any given day, one of the most common tasks HR teams tackle is employee inquiries. “I probably get 30-40 inquiries a day,” says Dorena. “But a lot of them are medical-related, so they’re not a quick, easy answer. There are probably 40-50 standard questions in a week, repeated in a cycle: ‘How do I enroll in this thing?’ then a week later: ‘When do I get my medical IDs.'"

“Paper has made that so streamlined that it takes 15 minutes of my day, rather than 3 hours spread out over time,” she says. “Because we’ve developed our content so much, we don’t have to type the same information over and over or try to customize it to each employee. I can just reply and share a Paper doc to say ‘Here’s where that information lives.’”

Inviting teammates into a shared Paper doc

Animated screenshot showing how to share a Dropbox Paper doc

5. Gamify the drudge work

To make slogging through docs even less sloggy and keep new hires engaged, the People team at Dropbox decided to gamify the process. They created a scavenger hunt that guides new hires through enrollment and introduces them to one of the key tools the company uses to coordinate projects and communicate with employees—Dropbox Paper. 

“I use the scavenger hunt, which serves as a tour of our benefits pages, as an introduction to Paper,” says Dorena. “We use benefits information in Paper docs to show them their initial enrollment information. Then we send them an itemized list of things they have to do by certain dates. I think it showcases how useful the collaboration is. Because with the viewer info feature, you can see the faces and names of the other new hires looking at the doc.”

The new hire scavenger hunt Paper doc

Screenshot showing the new hire scavenger hunt in a Dropbox Paper doc

“I recently joined the team and really enjoyed the scavenger hunt,” says Tony Hue, Lifecycle Marketing Manager at Dropbox. “While I'm still bitter our team didn't win the scavenger hunt, it was probably the best way to get up-to-speed learning the basics of Paper and acquainted with life at Dropbox.”

To learn how Dropbox Paper can make onboarding and other tasks easier for your team, check out

Find out what else Dropbox can do for your HR team.

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