Case Studies

The Case for an Employee Onboarding Program at Bonfire Women Inc.


Founded in 2019, Bonfire is a growing business in Chicago, with a team of about ten full time employees. They’re a talent development accelerator program aimed at helping women create systemic change in the workplace by unlocking potential within themselves and their organizations. As a growing company, they knew they needed to capture data about the employee experience for the purpose of improving the employee life cycle-starting even from the applicant viewpoint. Through implementing 1 week check ins, 30 day, 60 day, and 90 day check ins with HR, as well as a virtual open door, they’ve been able to gauge what needs to be finessed in the onboarding process, and gained other valuable insights about the employee experience-which is more crucial than ever considering onboarding is done primarily remotely.

The Opportunity to Improve Employee Onboarding

As a growing company with an expanding team, Bonfire seeks to provide an excellent employee experience that mirrors the quality of the experience it provides to its members.

From the start of our partnership, it was clear that employees had a lot of insight about their first month to six months at the Company, and the data was begging to be captured.

By working with Work Friendly, employee feedback as to their onboarding was documented, as well as strategic, process driven steps for a successful hybrid onboarding. This was done for not only people on Bonfire’s growing Senior Leadership team, but also individual contributors, contractors, graduate and undergraduate interns as well.

Why Bonfire Chose Work Friendly

Bonfire was graciously referred to Work Friendly by Ethos Talent, another women-led firm in Chicago. The similarities between the makeup of our businesses – both female run, and parallel personal values made it a seamless transition and laid out the groundwork for a positive business relationship.

How Work Friendly Responded

As soon as Work Friendly joined the Bonfire, meet and greets were held with every member of the team in order to get an initial introduction to the culture.

We then addressed any trends in ways employees described the culture and onboarding experience thus far. While there were initial traditional onboarding tasks already in place, we made sure to create official steps, assign roles, track progress, and have a formal process in place. We also made sure that aspects of the onboarding process were uniform across the board for all hires, no matter what professional level or area of focus, so all employees had the same, accurate and transparent information in place so they could all be set up for success.

This looked like many things – for those who had been with the team already, individual 6 month check-ins were scheduled between them and the HR Consultant, with consistent questions asked across the board. Consistency was emphasized, as this assisted in the review and reporting of trends, which then resulted in being better able to make key recommendations. While it was an adjustment for the team to get used to having an HR presence around, albeit remotely, they quickly adapted and showed an eagerness to be involved in and learn about HR processes and initiatives.

The Results

Over time, through thoughtful conversations and process building, we were able to foster an environment of collaborative and intentional onboarding at Bonfire – ultimately increasing employee engagement and retention.

Gone are the days of handwritten notes and checklists, and here to stay are the days of inclusive, informed, and well managed onboarding. Not only is this a project that’s managed with the team’s feedback in mind, but it’s also served as a launching point for Bonfire’s soon to be robust offboarding program.