Even under ideal conditions, the onboarding process can be taxing for employees. In fact, according to a Gallup poll conducted in 2019, only 29 percent of new employees felt fully prepared and ready after completing the onboarding process. Companies must reconsider their onboarding strategies in light of the new challenges posed by workplace modifications during the previous year.
As a result, it is more important than ever to ensure that employees understand an organization’s culture, goals, and vision from the outset. As we enter this new era, employee onboarding must evolve alongside other aspects of employee work, connectivity, and partnership. Six strategies that businesses should implement are listed below.
Begin the onboarding process months ahead of a new employee’s contract start date
Even if a business organization has the best of intentions, the first day of work for new employees can be daunting. Typically, new hires are expected to handle a significant amount of administrative tasks while learning more about their new role and getting to know coworkers.
Human resources, the technical team, and administrative departments should collaborate to streamline the preboarding process. Inter-departmental alignment is essential in a hybrid workplace because it ensures that everyone is aware of each new hire’s specific job-related boundaries and location. With this shared context, new hires have everything they need before their first day on the job, eliminating administrative confusion.
Prioritize relationship-building over paperwork completion
Prior to COVID-19, employees learned more about their new employers and coworkers through informal interactions rather than formal orientation sessions. This dynamic has weakened as a result of the depleted organic interaction and opportunities in the hybrid work era. For many new employees, communication tools like slack can feel intrusive because even the smallest question can feel like an invasion of personal space.
Focusing on connections rather than processes, particularly during the first few days of employment, can have a significant impact on employee morale and relationships. There is no better time than onboarding to introduce employees to one another, learn about their backgrounds, and form personal connections. This will lay the foundation for team collaboration, regardless of where the team members are located across the world. As a result, the employee gets to know their coworkers, feels included in the team, and has someone to turn to if any questions arise along the way.
Remote onboarding processes should include virtual-team welcome events and coffee dates to avoid early feelings of isolation. This is also the time to pair new hires with mentors, buddies and connect them with like-minded groups.
Consider the people as well as the surroundings
Employers with a hybrid or on-site workforce must pay closer attention to how employees and workplaces interact. The physical working environment has evolved into an important component of overall employee satisfaction. The safety of both new and existing employees is critical, as is the ease with which both groups can traverse the physical work location. Employees of all levels, not just new hires, must pay attention to the intersection of people and places.
Some of the new workplace priorities include reserving a desk or conference room and advising employees on how to get around the office. When an employee books a desk, for example, digital mapping can ensure that they are placed near their new colleagues, initiate learning on health and safety policies, arrange for cleaning services prior to arrival, and provide an interactive map guiding them to their destination. Members of the on-site team can also be informed of the new hire’s whereabouts so that they can meet and greet them when they arrive.
As a result, the workplace will increasingly become a destination for specific activities such as collaboration. Every employee must understand what to expect and how to make the most of their workspace.
Don’t stop after the first three months
Beyond onboarding, the success of new hires or people in new positions necessitates a tailored process. Training a new salesperson, for example, is not the same as training an executive in accounting. Onboarding is the process by which new hires are brought into an organization, but it is up to departments or even individual managers to ensure success in a new role. If departments and managers are given the ability to create tailored plans, the onboarding experience can evolve into a best practice ramp-up plan that lasts far beyond the first week or even month. Companies can create customized programs that track progress, provide training, and schedule team events regardless of where employees work.
Because a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for every team member, these longer experiences can be further customized based on role and function. Managers can better prepare their employees for success by approaching onboarding in a long-term, personalized manner.
Create environments that encourage feedback collection and use
Given the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, it is unreasonable to expect every organization to get everything right on the first try. Despite this, organizations are still determining which processes to retain and which to eliminate.
To be successful, a company’s onboarding culture must include an ongoing learning and iteration process. It is critical to provide real-time feedback as an employee progresses through the various onboarding processes. Asking employees to rate the benefits process on a 5-star scale and to elaborate via text after signing up for benefits is a good example. This enables businesses to understand what is and isn’t working, and to make changes in real-time.
Furthermore, organizations should consider the long-term consequences of their actions and the feedback they receive. Surveys for new hires at timely intervals are beneficial to learn about their overall onboarding experience. Continuous iteration aids in the discovery of new ways to improve onboarding and provide a positive experience for employees.
A culture of listening should be instilled in both new employees and their managers. Employees and managers should find it straightforward to give and receive feedback. In a hybrid workplace, where managers may not see the new employee on a daily basis, having an open channel of communication is especially important.
In onboarding, everyone has a role to play
Friction, disjointed processes, and disjointed teams have all slowed the onboarding process for a long time. The hybrid work era is forcing organizations to reconsider their strategies and the benefits are well worth it.
Organizations will become even more deliberate about the onboarding process, developing more efficient and streamlined procedures that allow all departments to work seamlessly together. Businesses and their employees will benefit from innovative digital architectures that break down silos and connect systems, processes, and teams. This will lay the foundation for a successful company from the very beginning.