• The Enabling Function

On-boarding Virtually: A Sustainable way forward

Updated: May 1, 2020

By Mounika

Coronavirus pandemic has thrown all existing processes and systems into a tizzy. Suddenly organizations that had well-oiled hiring and on-boarding processes were seen struggling with on-boarding new hires and creating the same experience virtually. However, the silver lining of this dark cloud is to think differently about our existing processes and be more digitally charged as organizations, whether big or small.

As per a study conducted by Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), 69% of employees with a compelling on-boarding experience want to stay on with their organizations for three years or more.

Studies have found that up to 20% of all new hires actually resign within the first 45 days of their role. Most often cited reasons for this being lack of clarity about the role or career path, lack of connection with the vision or values of the organization or lack of alignment with the manager.

If on-boarding is so important for engagement & retention of new hires, creating a rich, all-encompassing on-boarding experience and that too virtually can seem like a daunting task. Here are a few tips or insights that you could use while creating an on-boarding program.

Invest time in recreating a virtual on-boarding experience

As defined by SHRM, the building blocks of a successful on-boarding plan include the Four Cs:

Clarification refers to ensuring that employees understand their new job and related expectations. This would help a new hire gain confidence in their contributions early on and make them feel motivated and clearer about their goals.

Connection refers to the vital interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must establish. Sense of belonging is one of the most important levers of employee engagement. It has been proven that if employees have a strong social network, they continue to work longer despite not being satisfied with their compensation or career growth.

Culture is a broad category that includes providing employees with a sense of organizational norms — both formal and informal. Organizational values and culture can create a sense of pride among employees and develop an immediate connection. Pre-recorded video from CEO or CHRO can help redefine on-boarding experience for new – hires. Hearing it straight from the leader can create a sense of inclusion and can help understand the impact of individual contribution towards company’s goals.

Compliance is the lowest level which includes teaching employees basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations. This informs employees about do’s and don’ts of the company. Communicated earlier in the tenure, this helps employees protect the brand and reputation of the company and avoid making any mistakes. Creating an automated learning module on data privacy, workplace health & safety and code of conduct can help provide important & relevant information within very little cost & time.

The degree to which each organization leverages the 4 C’s in their onboarding program forms the onboarding strategy of a company.

Hiring Managers should be made more accountable

New hires have a need to feel socially accepted by their peers and superiors within the first few days of joining the organization. Clarity of role expectations is also important for a new hire to adjust into the organization.

Hiring Manager will have to take an extra effort to onboard new hires virtually. Hiring manager will have to

  • Take out time for personally engaging with the employee through formal & informal conversations on their day 1 and later.

  • Introduce them to the team and other relevant stakeholders.

  • Clarify roles expectations, set weekly goals and frequent check – ins to engage the new hire

  • Ensure new hire has right tools or resources to deliver on the expectations.

  • Be available to answer queries and show empathy & concern about the employee’s needs.

  • Educating managers on the strategic importance of on-boarding is the first step.

On-boarding is no longer an administrative process but a critical phase in the employee journey that can have an organisation-wide impact on things like engagement and productivity.

Assign a virtual buddy

Researchers have found that new employees are more likely to have learned and internalized the key values of their organization’s culture if they had spent time with a buddy. Buddy is a peer or a team leader who has experienced on-boarding in the organization successfully and can help the new hire with faster assimilation. Buddies are often seen as a more informal/ casual connection who could help assimilate the new hire faster into the organization.

Assign a virtual buddy with your new hire to connect on day 1 and commit to availability and support in their on-boarding journey. Buddy should set up regular calls with the new hire to make them feel comfortable.

Leverage Technology

Identifying right tool/s at an optimal cost can help replace your existing on-boarding process with a more agile and virtual on-boarding experience.

Leverage software for Pre - recorded Videos or presentations, Virtual Classrooms or Automated learning modules and Automated workflows for document management, e – verification and digital signatures for enhancing your on-boarding experience. There are a range of free to cost intensive software available in the market and they can be identified based on relevance, functionality, scalability and performance.

Conduct On-boarding Survey

Organizations can conduct 30 – 60 – 90-day surveys to seek feedback from new hires to validate the effectiveness of their on-boarding programs. Feedback will also help to check how well new hires have settled in the organization and can provide inputs if any additional support will be required for them.

With the high cost of recruiting, business leaders must understand that effectively integrating new hires into the organization is an important step to ensure their success. Being able to recreate the experience virtually will also help reduce the cost, time and resources used for on-boarding without compromising on the on-boarding experience.

The Enabling Function team brings extensive experience in creating virtual and physical on - boarding programs and can help you transition your existing on - boarding programs online without compromising on the employee experience.

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