Onboarding in the 'new normal' of work!
Orientation in its essence is designed to familiarise an employee with not just their new surroundings of a workplace, but also with the organisation for which they have been recruited. A 2018 report by Business Insider indicated that 6 out of 10 Managers reported having a new employee resign during their probation period due to poor onboarding.
There has been much noise on social media and in the news about how best to keep our employees productive whilst working remotely during COVID-19. SEEK employment data shows a 41.5% month-on-month growth in jobs advertised for July and then a further 2.3% growth in August, so we need to turn the question to how do we effectively onboard these new candidates, train and retain them, without necessarily being able to use traditional orientation and induction methods to do so?
The “who” and “where” are the keystones to new employee orientations and are most commonly the first interaction that new candidates will have with their colleagues. The traditional “face to a name” and handshake introduction is safe to say, out the window leaving many managers resorting to email introductions and zoom meetings with immediate teams to fill this void. Is this enough? With new recruits left to orientate a workplace which is not only foreign to them, but to their colleagues in today’s climate, it is crucial that managers maximise the workplace experience where possible for their newcomers.
With the increased popularity and relevance of social media and websites such as LinkedIn the “who” of the equation has never been a more dominant question. Instead of simply steering new employees towards social networks to get to know their colleagues behind the scenes due to lack of face to face availability, developing an internal database of rich employee profiles could prove to be ideal in the current climate. By providing information which is relevant to the specific organisation beyond an employee’s role allows new recruits a detailed point of reference to continually return to as they gain proficiency in understanding the company structure. It allows them to get digitally acquainted with not only the structure of an organisation but also the individuals. Integrating information such as - How long have they worked for the company? Do they serve on any of the internal committees the new employee might like/need to know about? What languages does an employee speak? emulate the face to name concept and can prove invaluable in ensuring that the new employee does not feel totally disconnected from their colleagues.
This, accompanied by a detailed “family tree” or traditional organisational structure will quickly allow new recruits to effectively acquaint themselves in the absence of the customary office tour and the day to day interactions with colleagues that serve as the foundation of getting to know “who is who in the zoo.”
The “where” is the biggest challenge most corporate employees are having at the moment. Many organisations feel there is still a need for a portion of face to face onboarding, and with eased restrictions through the majority of the country, navigating this is possible if it is done in a COVIDsafe manner. As businesses rethink the way we interact in the workplace considerations must be made for physical distancing, employee and customer safety and potentially contact tracing if necessary. For management, it is the struggle to have your staff proverbially like ducks in a row and all accounted for…safely. Good planning of work space and the allocation of in office days productively amongst teams can still lead to a successful induction and onboarding experience for new staff. Recruits need to feel as if an organisation is just that…organised. This will enhance the onboarding experience and overall comfort levels the new employee has in regards to their new employer. It has never been so important for a candidate to feel as if their safety and wellbeing has been taken into consideration and placed as a priority when they walk through the office doors.
COVID has meant that many workers have had no choice but to change jobs due to business closures or redundancies, bringing an influx of “new starters” through the doors of businesses who have been lucky enough to survive thus far. The pandemic has changed the working landscape for all, a strange new world of new environments, new protocols and for our inductees, new faces. Taking the extra time to ensure newcomers to a business feel as integrated into our physically disconnected environment as they possibly can during the orientation and onboarding process is an important foundation step to retention in the workplace. Businesses need to remain mindful to provide as much stability and certainty in this ever-changing environment as possible through well measured and effective onboarding processes. They need to ensure that physical distance does not prove to be a hinderance in allowing recruits the opportunity to understand the “who” and the “where” of their business model. Investing in making sure a business has the right procedures, processes and tools in place to allow this to happen has never been more critical than in today’s working landscape and when executed successfully will pay dividends where staff retention is concerned.