In a recent poll, we at Work Horizons posed the question: “what is the main reason for new hires leaving in the first three months of their employment?”. The winner of the poll was “Onboarding” with 44% of the vote. This begs the question: in a remote-working world, how do you do really great onboarding that actually lasts?
Those of us in the LinkedIn community will no doubt have seen recent posts from those sharing photographs of their “Zoom onboarding experiences”, and some lucky souls even received goody bags to mark their first day which contained mugs, chocolate, coffee, tea, t-shirts etc. That’s a lovely welcome!
How do you keep the love alive over the coming weeks so that a new colleague feels part of the family in spite of limited (if any) physical contact to the rest of the team, the rest of the organisation, the offices, the canteen etc.? And how can they navigate the already tight bonds between colleagues that have been forged before lockdown? Can the length of service of one’s new colleagues actually be perceived to be a real threat to a new hire feeling part of the family?
Current Onboarding Tools
Most employers already use some kind of digital ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to manage their recruitment, and many of these also use the accompanying digital functionality of Taleo, Workday etc. to manage the onboarding process in terms of issuing contracts of employment, background checks, personal data collection, and even in some cases, a little pre-learning about the organisation.
This provides a seamless administrative approach to bringing a new hire from outside the organisation, through the gate and into the fold. But what about the “real people” stuff? How do you make sure the whole process feels human and creates an authentic sense of belonging that goes beyond just the first few days?
Show Your Face
There is no excuse (aside from poor internet connection) for not having face-to-face meetings as part of virtual onboarding; in fact, it should be the norm. As the manager of a new person, it is your responsibility to set up the right meetings with the right people to get the new team member connected and heading in the right direction. But responsibility goes much further than just setting up meetings. On a call recently, I listened to an example of another business where line managers were making sure there was at least one face-to-face per day with their new hire – ostensibly to check that all meetings were running smoothly, but more importantly, to have time for reflection and to dispel any misconceptions. A good company culture is perpetuated by the way leaders act and therefore this is a must-do.
This works both ways; not only should a line manager be clear about what they expect the new hire to cover in their first days, but also the new hire should have the opportunity to articulate what they believe they need as part of their onboarding in order to make it a success. Important things to cover include culture, targets and objectives, but also behaviours – what does good look like? A good leader sets the tone here and also creates the opportunity for the new colleague to express themselves – it’s normal for people to feel a high degree of vulnerability in their first few days and weeks with an organisation, and it can lead to a rapid cooling off if it’s not mitigated. This is where feedback can help someone new feel that they are already noticed and valued. As before, this works both ways and surely you would want to know if someone was struggling?
Make it Better
Nothing is less productive than doing the same thing over and over again, and even though digital onboarding (in its current form) is a relatively recent innovation that many of us have become accustomed to, it is still something to improve on. So why not ask for feedback from not only the new hires, but also their colleagues and network? They may notice that something is not as it should be and can feed that back into the mix. After all, this is your one chance to make a great start, so why not try for the best?