High performers in an organization are 400% more productive than average ones, says a study by McKinsey. The report goes on to mention that in more complex occupations, like software development and customer-facing services segments, high performers are a whopping 800% more productive. Fortunately, most companies and CXOs realize that talent is a core competitive asset. No wonder then that organizations spend around $4000 per hire to attract the right talent, according to a report by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Not just the quality of talent, but also how well they are integrated into existing teams is pivotal to the success of any organization. In the absence of this, the business may suffer more than it did before the new employees stepped in.
The Critical First Three Months
Poor onboarding practices have been the culprit for organizations losing around a third of their workforce within the first 90 days of recruitment. The situation has become even more challenging during the pandemic era. Lockdowns and social distancing norms forced companies to embrace the WFH (work from home) model. Even as the situation eases, the WFH trend seems to be here to stay, as an integral part of the “new normal.” The two major drivers of this are saving on overhead costs and the opportunity to access a much larger talent pool.
HR executives are now tasked with introducing new hires to the company and integrating them with the existing team remotely. The first three months have become even more critical, with the first interactions being virtual.
Successfully Integrating New Talent
Here are a few things HR executives can do to integrate new talent into existing teams in the company:
- Set Expectations During the Hiring Process: While you are trying to hire the person, the approach of “putting your best foot forward” doesn’t prove beneficial in the long term. Instead, be transparent and upfront about the company, the position, processes, expectations from the team, timings, amount of flexibility possible, etc.
- Announce the New Hire to the Team: Before the new hire joins the team, set up a conference call to announce the latest addition and provide details of his/her skills, experience, interests, job title, start date, duties, etc.
- Sense of Empathy: The recent WFH trend is not just new for Indian companies, it is also a new way of working for employees. They need to make significant lifestyle changes to incorporate this culture. Some may not be tech-savvy and need more time to learn using new communication and collaboration tools, while getting acquainted with new processes. For the first week, HR executives can set up daily video calls to answer questions about the processes, reporting structure and individual team members that the new hire may have.
- Organize a Formal Meeting to Introduce the New Hire: In the WFH environment, insist on video calls. It’s just not enough to connect via voice only. A video call builds much more credibility, builds stronger connections, encourages team participation, and creates a warmer environment for all. Since you’ve already introduced the new hire to the team, you can focus on one or two fun aspects and provide additional details to make the introduction more interesting.
- Hand Over a Detailed Document as a Welcome Package: Give a soft copy of onboarding documents to the new hire and set up a time at which you can walk him/her through them. Then have the new hire e-sign them. People usually carefully read documents they need to put their signature on. Make this document as extensive as possible, with details of the company culture, processes, tools being used, etc.
- Understand Each Individual’s Unique Circumstances: We don’t realize this, but the office is a great equalizer! The external circumstances are broadly the same. Most people tend to leave their personal worries behind after entering the office premises. This is not the case with a WFH team. HR executives need to invest more time to understand each new hire’s unique personal circumstances, as they play an even greater role when someone is working from home. Try to get answers to these questions - What personal responsibilities do they need to attend to at home? Are they living with aging parents who need care? Do they have small children who need attention when attending school virtually? Will they need more flexibility in their schedule due to these reasons? Do they have a secluded space at home from where they can work? What are the kinds of distractions at home? Be systematic about keeping a record of this information. It allows HR executives to be more proactive and set expectations with the new hire and the team.
You can consider welcoming the new hire with some useful company merchandise. It could be something they need in the new WFH scenario, like headphones, pen-drive, or mousepad. Else, you can give them the freedom of choice with an online gift coupon.
HR executives need to be sensitive to new challenges people face in the pandemic era, take further initiative to organize virtual team events and go the extra mile to make them more engaging and fun.