Article: How does new hire grooming impact company success? Epsilon's VP HR explains


How does new hire grooming impact company success? Epsilon's VP HR explains

The VP of HR at Epsilon revealed how Epsilon is actively seeking innovative methods to improve its onboarding and learning processes, with a keen interest in exploring the potential of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
How does new hire grooming impact company success? Epsilon's VP HR explains

As organisations navigate the complexities of a digital age characterised by unprecedented innovation and disruption, the process of onboarding and nurturing new talent has emerged as a critical imperative for sustained success. At the heart of this imperative lies the transformative impact of technology on the modern workplace. With the advent of digitalisation and automation, businesses across industries are experiencing a paradigm shift in their operations, necessitating a workforce equipped with the requisite skills and competencies to thrive in an increasingly tech-driven environment. 

From artificial intelligence and machine learning to data analytics and cloud computing, the demand for digitally fluent talent has never been higher, underscoring the importance of grooming new hires to excel in a digitally-driven world. Moreover, the evolving cultural landscape has brought about a renewed emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. 

As organisations strive to foster environments that celebrate individual differences and promote belongingness, the onboarding process plays a pivotal role in acclimating new hires to the company culture and values. By instilling a sense of belonging and inclusivity from the outset, organisations can cultivate a diverse talent pipeline that reflects the richness of human experience and perspectives, driving innovation and creativity. 

Furthermore, the rise of remote and hybrid work arrangements has redefined traditional notions of workplace dynamics, necessitating a reimagining of the onboarding experience, highlighted Sonali De Sarker, VP - HR, Epsilon, during an exclusive interview with People Matters. 

Sarker, who has robust experience leading HR across India, APAC, the Middle East, and Africa, stressed the grooming of new hires extends beyond the confines of physical office spaces, requiring innovative approaches to orientation, training, and integration. Leveraging technology-enabled platforms and digital communication tools, organisations can deliver immersive and engaging onboarding experiences that transcend geographical boundaries, fostering connectivity and cohesion among remote employees.

Excerpts from the interview: 

In your opinion, what is new hire grooming, and why is it important for organisations?

I believe new-hire grooming is a strategic imperative for any company. It is an essential component required to maximise new hire potential, foster a positive work environment, and integrate effectively into the company's workplace and culture.

Epsilon is a ‘people-first’ organisation, and this reflects right from the time an employee accepts our offer. We prioritise a thorough onboarding experience for both freshers and seasoned professionals. This is particularly important in our fast-paced industry, where understanding the company’s expansive operations is crucial. 

Once the offer is accepted, we allow hires to soak into the organisation by sending them ‘Nurture Newsletters’, which give them a sneak peek of the company, events, leaders, etc. This way, pre-onboarding has already begun. 

Post which the structured onboarding program equips new hires to integrate into the company culture, understand the company values and how they are integrated into everything we do, and help build connections within the organization together with a supportive network that enables onboarding and continuous learning and development. This ensures new hires are well-equipped to contribute meaningfully from very early on.

How do you approach designing and implementing new hire grooming programs within your organisation? How do you ensure that it aligns with the overall strategic objectives of the organization?

Joining a new organization can be daunting, especially when navigating through the company’s diverse geographies and cultures. At Epsilon, we recognise this challenge and prioritise ensuring that every new hire grasps the essence of our company, objectives, and work ethos. To facilitate this understanding, we have implemented a comprehensive onboarding program that includes assigning each new employee a buddy—a seasoned Epsilon employee—as a mentor to guide, support, and answer questions about company culture and work environment and align them to their specific role. This personalised approach offers a supportive culture where all questions are welcomed and answered.

Additionally, our six-month onboarding initiative for new graduates is robust and enables them to succeed in their first ever professional/ corporate journey. We offer diverse training modules, including campus-to-corporate simulations, tech proficiency development, and functional skill enhancement, which ensures that new hires gain the necessary skills and knowledge to integrate seamlessly into their roles and teams.

Furthermore, our program operates on a continuous feedback loop, where we actively seek input from new employees on what aspects of their onboarding experience have been most beneficial in facilitating their integration into our business units. This iterative process allows us to refine and enhance our onboarding strategies continuously.

Given our company's growth trajectory, which is characterised by the integration of multiple entities, understanding Epsilon's strategy can be complex. To avoid overwhelming them, we gradually introduce them to Epsilon's way of working, thus ensuring a deeper integration of our company's mission and goals over time.

How do you balance standardised training with personalised development opportunities for new hires?

Learning and development is a big focus for us, and our attempt is to tailor training based on our associates’ requirements and fill their learning gaps. We have adopted the mantra "own your development," cultivating a culture of continuous learning. Employees are empowered to choose the programs and resources that best suit their needs and learning pace, maximizing the effectiveness of their upskilling journey. This approach diverges from traditional, ‘one-size-fits-all’ training programs, ensuring a more personalised and engaging learning experience for every individual.

Our L&D programs address all facets of our associates' personal and professional development and are created with them in mind. In addition, we emphasise behavioural training, which includes resolving conflict, effective communication, developing a leadership attitude, and other crucial topics like diversity and inclusion. Individuals also have the opportunity to choose from a vast body of training programs, both work-related and non-work related.

We also have a program called “DevelopU” – which allows all employees, including new hires, to sign up for programs that are their areas of interest but outside of their professional areas of work. We have external speakers for these programs. 

What are some common challenges or obstacles faced when implementing such programs, and how do you address them? How do you handle resistance or skepticism from employees or other stakeholders regarding the value of new hire grooming?

We acknowledge that maintaining employee engagement in learning programs and ensuring that new graduates can effectively manage their time for on-the-job learning can be challenging. One of the key challenges is the short attention span, which we combat by designing engaging learning experiences with shorter, focused modules to capture attention and promote continuous development.

We emphasise on-the-job training focused on achievable tasks and equip managers to effectively mentor and guide new hires through the learning process, helping them learn quickly. We have seen this approach to be successful, as experienced through our industry-leading intern assimilation program, where more than 90% of our interns decided to join Epsilon. 

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Are there any emerging trends or innovations in this segment that you find particularly exciting or promising?

We are constantly exploring innovative ways to enhance our onboarding and learning experiences. We are particularly interested in the potential of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). We envision going beyond traditional applications and creating a more experiential onboarding process. This will foster familiarity, build confidence, and ultimately accelerate new hires' ability to contribute to the organisation.

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Topics: Recruitment, Strategic HR, Training & Development, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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