VIRTUAL ONBOARDING IN THE COVID-19 ERA
Research by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), shows that employee onboarding is a driving force behind great employee experience.
Further, that organizations with effective and robust onboarding practices achieve nearly three times more revenue, and nearly double their profit margin, relative to those organizations that adopt poor onboarding strategies.
Therefore, employee onboarding undoubtedly plays a major role in the success of an organization.
Specifically, a smooth onboarding experience creates a healthy atmosphere whereby employees feel compelled and committed to the organization, thereby keeping them productively engaged for a long time.
A further study by the Society For Human Resources Management (SHRM), shows that some 69% of employees feel compelled and committed to an organization if they had a great commencement onboarding experience.
Put into context, onboarding, like the other human resource activities is a tedious exercise; more especially in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, where people now find themselves working remotely and/or online.
This blog considers some useful tips which will make remote/virtual and online onboarding easy for all organizations – in terms of Pre-boarding, Remote Workplace setup, Onboard plan, Buddy system, Virtual Walkthrough, and Check-in regularly – in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experience shows that at the pre-boarding phase, employees often feel overwhelmed and anxious about the prospect of the first day on a new job.
Thus, with the current COVID-19 pandemic and the prevalent practice of working from home, starting a new job has become even more stressful, often involving joggling between official (work), and private (family) issues.
Within the domain of human resources management, one of the best ways to minimize the impact of such stress and anxiety factors on a new employee is to send them a welcome or pre-onboarding package (digital or physical), consisting of the following items:
- Welcome letter from the CEO
- A brief introduction about the team members
- Telephone numbers and email address of people to connect to in case of any doubts or emergency
- Share links of important websites/pages which would be useful to the employee in the first few days
- Company merchandise / Gift vouchers
REMOTE WORKSPACE SETUP
Research studies conducted by Gartner show that 85% of organizations are now using new technologies to facilitate a smooth onboarding experience for their new employees – these being designed to make the first day on the job for a new employee to be hassle-free.
To be effective, this requires planning ahead of time and ensuring that new employees receive their laptops, mouse, keyboard, or other job-oriented necessities on time.
Furthermore, it is recommended that new employees be provided with unique/personalized emails, be added to the organization’s mailing lists, be given access to the organization’s communication and other collaboration tools, preferably at the time of the onboarding exercise.
PREPARE AN ONBOARDING PLAN
The third phase in the virtual onboarding exercise involves preparing an onboarding plan for the first two weeks of the new employee, given that the first few days in a new environment are crucial for new employees to understand their job roles, as well as for them to learn about the organization culture and policies.
Toward this goal, it is recommended that HR professionals develop a customized and individualized onboarding plan for each new employee through the use of team meetings, one-on-one meetings, and training programs, as part of the onboarding plan, including an orientation on the organization culture and policies.
The notion of a “buddy” system is akin to that of a protégé, whereby each new employee is assigned a buddy – a more experienced employee who will act as a mentor for each new employee joining the organization.
It is envisaged that this will help employees make an easy transition into the organization. Experience shows that having a buddy makes the new employee feel more welcomed, comfortable, and less stressed.
Another merit of the buddy system is that new employees can communicate with their buddies anytime regarding any concerns or clarifications, given that buddies are also responsible for introducing the new employees to other team members, as well as checking on their wellbeing from time to time.
One of the primary objectives of the virtual walkthrough is to enable new employees to meet members of their team and other teams on the first day.
Thus, virtual walkthrough serves to generate a sense of belonging, as well as to afford new employees the opportunity to get to know everyone with whom they are going to work at present, or in the future.
To be effective, it is recommended that virtual meetings be scheduled with different teams and departments so that the new hire gets to know everyone and vice versa.
In general, a robust virtual walkthrough not only has an impact on the retention rate but also creates a strong working relationship between remote employees and other team members.
The final phase of virtual onboarding involves checking in regularly on the new employees, to glean an insight into how they are settling into their new role, getting accustomed to their new work environment, and adjusting to the organization’s culture – thereby ensuring that they fit into the organization’s culture as well as to perform their work duties effectively.
Indeed, it is incumbent upon HR to conduct frequent check-ins and feedback sessions with remote/virtual or online employees, to assess their job performance as well as to troubleshoot any issues and/or problems the workers may be facing. In general, frequent check-ins and feedback help to keep the employees productive and engaged in the performance of their duties.