The Evolution of Rookie-O: Onboarding a New Class of Remote Rackers
by Kamalpreet Badasha, Content Marketer, Rackspace Technology
Rackspace Technology® is known for Fanatical Experience™ — and that’s not just something we deliver for our customers. We also create it for our Rackers. It begins on day one with our Rookie Orientation (Rookie-O) onboarding program where new hires, referred to as “Rookies” take part in instructor-led, experiential learning program that immerses them into the Rackspace culture, values, and business.
What is Rookie-O?
Rookie-O is a fun, interactive and welcoming way for Rookies to learn about our business covering areas such as strategy, services and solutions. Rookies are assigned to teams and earn points through activities. At the end of Rookie-O, team members create and deliver a culture presentation. Leaders from all groups in the company join the Rookie-O to facilitate sessions focused on helping the Rookies understand global business strategy, services and operations in the context of the customer experience
Rookie-O is a signature part of Rackspace Technology culture, and it has also received external recognition. The Talent Development team received a Silver Stevie® Award in 2018 for Best Onboarding Team of the Year, a global business award that has more than 1,000 participants.
The Transformation of Rookie-O
Before the pandemic, Rookie-O was delivered as an in-person three-day event. As work-from-home became mandated across the world, Rookie-O was transformed into a 100% virtual experience. In less than a month, the Global Talent Development Team which leads Rackspace University, redesigned Rookie-O. The new format was met with enthusiasm, and 95% of participants reported an even higher opinion of the company after completing the onboarding program.
Racker feedback amplified this enthusiasm. “This is the best onboarding experience I’ve ever had,” said one Rookie. “And it makes me feel proud to be a Racker.” Another Rookie, added: “This program blew me away, it’s a major differentiator compared to other onboarding experiences I have had.”
The transformation of Rookie-O wasn’t an easy feat. It involved modifying presentations to include items like online polls, breakout room discussions, and facilitated discussions along with fun quizzes and trivia. Our global trainers also coached presenters on skills and methods to keep Rackers engaged and learning.
"We wanted to capture the magic of Rookie-O in the virtual experience and create the excitement that the in-person event had,” said RaChelle Streetman, Director of Global Talent Development. “Rookie-O is a signature event that introduces Rookies to our culture and to each other, turning strangers to friends. It’s designed to be a warm welcome, so Rookies begin their professional journey with us feeling confident and well-informed.”
The Global Talent Development team focused on establishing which pieces of the original program were most effective in preparing employees while creating a one of a kind experience, which included the following.
Networking has always been a huge part of the Rookie-O experience. The previous version had onsite leaders coming in to present, giving opportunities for Rookies to engage with leaders face-to-face. The new program leaned in and took advantage of the virtual environment to create more robust networking opportunities that allow Rookies to make connections across the entire company, globally. This is so important as it truly showcases our culture and approachable atmosphere.
“Through Rookie-O I have been able to meet people from other departments,” explained a Rookie. “Those initial introductions will allow me to build relationships across Rackspace Technology.”
One of the most celebrated parts of Rookie-O is the graduation on the final day of onboarding. In pre-pandemic times, Rookies would be surprised with a graduation in the event space at The Castle, Rackspace Technology headquarters in San Antonio. The whole company would be invited to welcome Rookies into the company.
With the move to a virtual program, arrangements had to be made to ensure the spirit of our Rookie-O Graduation was preserved. While we don't want to divulge spoilers for any of you future Rackers, the team has done just that in the new virtual landscape and on a global scale.
The proof of this is in the numbers, virtual Rookie-O has an even higher employee satisfaction score, or NPS, than our in-person event. The program achieved its first 100 NPS score in September 2021 and has earned a global NPS of 96 for all of 2021! The virtual Rookie-O program has captured the hearts of our Rookies.
Yet, as the company continues to grow with more and more Rookies being based across time zones, Rackspace University is already slated to roll-out a new version this year that will make the signature experience even more scalable, consistent, and globally connected.
Learn more about how our culture empowers our Rackers to deliver Fanatical Experience for customers.