The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a great deal of uncertainty for hiring companies and job seekers alike. There are many unknowns about the future of staffing, onboarding processes, and maintaining healthy company culture during this time.
Despite these challenges, two things remain certain – hiring must continue, and successfully onboarding new employees have never been more crucial.
Since remote work has become the “new normal” for many industries, companies rely heavily on technology to manage teams and maintain productivity. Those that cannot afford to operate remotely are continuously disrupted by the lockdown and quarantine measures, including companies that use hybrid strategies of both remote and on-site work.
It is as vital as ever to ensure that new employees are integrated seamlessly into their positions so they can hit the ground running. Employers are responsible for providing proper onboarding to their new hires and facilitating smooth integration into their culture.
Forward-thinking organisations have worked hard to navigate the pandemic by transforming working processes, but how many have upgraded their onboarding strategies too?
When critical processes like onboarding and training fall to the wayside, new employees are more likely to be unprepared for their roles. They may struggle to fit in with the company culture or work effectively in their team.
Traditionally, onboarding is a hands-on process that takes place on-site or in an office-type environment. Whether it’s meeting all their new colleagues in a board meeting, going for a team lunch, or participating in a workshop – new employees can benefit significantly from an organic, in-person onboarding experience.
An effective onboarding process can reduce the time and resources put into training a new hire and ultimately help them thrive early in their role. Setting up an employee’s workstation, training them on your core systems, and regularly checking up on them during their first few days are decisive steps of the onboarding process that are difficult to replace through technology.
For example, introducing a new employee to their team during a Zoom call may do the job, but this may not have the same effect as a warm handshake or an office meeting. Human beings are highly social creatures that rely on real-time interactions and social cues to develop healthy relationships.
Successful organisations build strong teams based on trust, rapport, and clear communication. Without these ingredients, your team is bound to struggle or even fall apart during today’s tough challenges.
Tips for upgrading your onboarding process
When onboarding new staff in a pandemic era, your process must account for the lack of real-time interaction or increased disruptions that are often out of your control. You can’t always predict when the next lockdown will happen or when a team member will call in sick, but you can onboard your employees well by preparing them for such situations.
The goal is to center your onboarding strategy around the most effective methods for integrating new staff into the company. This strategy includes setting up various interactive, engaging, and high-impact experiences for your new employee, geared towards full integration and immersion in the organisation.
Companies using a fully remote work strategy or hybrid strategy (i.e. remote and on-site) can focus on technology-based onboarding initiatives, such as:
- Initiating both one-on-one and group introductions with the team to create an excellent first impression
- Providing virtual real estate tours of the office or even the surrounding area if the new hire has relocated for the job
- Setting up all of the relevant account details, logins, and software of the new employee beforehand or on their first day
- Ensuring that new employees are fully equipped with working devices that meet company requirements and data, headphones, etc.
- Sharing updated training materials and valuable documents like company portfolio’s, health & safety manuals, rulebooks, and strategy documents
- Creating digital onboarding tools that empower employees across all levels to learn about new hires’ backgrounds & skill sets without having to reach out for help every time (e.g. employee profiles)
- Planning and executing daily progress meetings where you check in with new employees and openly discuss tasks and roles with the team
- Asking the team, specifically new employees, to track their tasks and document daily working processes. Use this information to improve workflows and productivity.
- Initiating strategic meetings with new employees to brainstorm new ideas for the company. Doing this will give them a sense of initiative and ownership – two massive components of success for remote teams.
- Ask new employees to write out their short, medium, and long-term goals and vision for working with the company, which should be checked on and updated regularly over time.
Ultimately, onboarding a new employee should be an ongoing process, not just a checklist of activities and tasks that only take place during the first day or week.
To help ensure smooth onboarding processes, you need to get your onboarding strategy in line with how remote teams operate so nobody is left out or overwhelmed by time zones, multiple locations, and lack of face-to-face interaction.
Onboarding is an ongoing process that should evolve with your company over time while constantly reflecting the culture you want to shape within it. We are all navigating the same challenges together, so don’t be afraid to experiment, try new things, and have fun with the process.
As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “if you’re onboarding right, people will feel like they joined a family”. These words may be more important than ever before in this era of remote work and less in-person interaction.
If you require professional assistance with hiring, onboarding, and training new employees, make sure to contact us so you can leverage the top staffing employment and labour outsourcing services in SA.
MASA is a leading national and international employment/staffing agency capable of effectively managing the key elements of your employment/staffing needs ready to facilitate seamless hiring and onboarding of new employees in your company.