The how, what, when, and where of our workplaces and workflows have changed dramatically and as HR and Talent leaders, we must react at a similar velocity. This pandemic has pushed us to be more creative with our resources, policies and practices, especially with respect to our new hires. We are re-defining how we assimilate and immerse new employees from the moment they accept our offers, and what is becoming more apparent is that these measures will likely not be temporary, but instead will shape our cultures moving forward.
Here are some tips for helping you along the journey:
Gear Up With Pre-Boarding
Our new normal requires that we re-evaluate when we onboard new hires and how we ensure their transition from candidate to new employee is both seamless and effective. New hires are looking to make that connection to your organization instantly – to start building an affinity for their work and new community. Although it might not be possible for organizations to provide access to proprietary systems before Day 1, there are pieces of the onboarding experience that CAN go into effect prior to starting.
Establishing pre-boarding engagement sessions between new hires and managers, extending mentor/buddy outreach programs and providing welcome videos and letters from executive team members can all work wonders for building connection and decreasing time to productivity. Something as simple as one team member reaching out to welcome a new hire before they start, advising on initial onboarding processes, or just extending a friendly word will help to build trust and establish a culture of inclusion from the get-go.
Map Out Your Experience With Technology
Take inventory of where your onboarding experience happens and determine how quickly you can increase accessibility and alignment between hiring and onboarding platforms and processes. Ask yourself questions such as: Once new hire information is entered into your HR information system, how quickly does that data translate into an onboarding plan? What is your communication plan and process for providing a laptop, phone or office equipment? How quickly and effortlessly can new hires register for benefits or gain access to your Employee Assistance Program? If you have an LMS, when and how does your new hire get access? If most of your product training is delivered in person, how quickly can you translate it into virtual learning?
New hires want to have as much information necessary to hit the ground running. Limiting as many unknowns as possible is a crucial step in their cultural assimilation. Giving employees a clear understanding of how the organization communicates will go a long way. Knowing what technology and channels are most frequently used to communicate internally ensures new employees are not missing out on important conversations. Meanwhile, confirming if they should prepare to be on camera during meetings will help employees transition smoothly into their new role. Having a clear set of expectations provides comfort and encourages confidence as new hires begin interacting with their teams. Many companies are now using videotaping and virtual coaching tools to enhance product onboarding so that post training, new hires (especially those in sales) can ask questions and receive immediate feedback and coaching. The reality is onboarding during these times comes with its own unique stress points. Providing new hires with a way to connect with each other in social sharing platforms and/or virtual live allows them to share their experiences with those who have similar ones and quickly builds a feeling of belonging.
Read More: Is Remote Work Here To Stay?
Equip Fellow Leaders
In HR, or any other function for that matter, we know we cannot go it alone. The success of all talent enablement initiatives rests in the leaders’ collective ability to bring them to life at the ground level. It is therefore incumbent upon HR to equip leaders with the tools and resources needed to connect, onboard and assimilate their new employees. This often requires providing managers with training and opportunities to connect, debrief, and reflect with each other on a consistent basis. Some organizations are building collaboration forums for managers. These serve as communication channels and testing grounds to experience and interact with certain benefits – like the Employee Assistance Program – prior to them making those recommendations to their employees. Meanwhile, re-designing executive onboarding to support rapid assimilation and agility for an organization’s senior leaders with initiatives such as daily, virtual goal and strategic alignment meetings set a cadence that allows for quick and effective onboarding of new executive leaders into the organization. Leaders at all levels of our organizations need this type of support. The more we enable our managers, the greater our ability to engage our new hires.
Keep It Simple. Keep It Real.
At the end of the day, we are people onboarding people into organizations run by people. Human connection remains ultra-important, and we simply have to find new ways to provide it. We know through multiple studies that remote employees (at all stages of their careers) can often feel they are lost in the fold. We do not have to over-engineer our onboarding experience to combat this. We need to keep access easy, redefine our crucial touch points, and reassure new hires that the organization cares about them as individuals. A two-minute, recorded cell phone welcome message from your CEO (sitting in their living room) can go a long way. A series of phone calls or video calls with an onboarding buddy or mentor connects new hires to an organization’s cultural pillars regardless of where they are located. If we are able to demonstrate our most important cultural assets as soon as possible with the newest members of our workforce, we have an opportunity to greatly enhance our work environments for whatever the future holds.
*This article was co-authored by Sheri Zee, SVP Culture and Talent, Skillsoft; Brie Miller, VP Talent Acquisition, Skillsoft; and Elisa Vincent, VP Talent Enablement, Skillsoft