The business environment has undergone some remarkable transformations over the past year and a half.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many issues to the forefront, including dealing with burnout and how to function effectively in remote employment situations.
As organizations continue to think differently about what work will look like moving forward, don’t forget to set the right stage from the beginning. It’s time to reimagine employee engagement with an onboarding strategy that is radically different from what’s been done in the past, replacing it with a process focused on cultivating a sense of belonging and fostering a more energized, inclusive workforce. Creating a foundation where employees feel supported and empowered to do their jobs is essential for well-being in the workplace. It often means the difference between a productive, long-term employee and a disgruntled one who can’t wait to make a move.
Here are six key elements to consider when creating an elevated new onboarding experience for 2022.
1. It starts long before the first day of work.
As soon as a new employee receives and signs their offer letter, the onboarding experience has begun. In the pre-onboarding phase, organizations should begin communicating with new hires by sharing expectations about the weeks leading up to their first day of work. It may involve providing pre-orientation items like the company handbook, HR documentation, company resources, etc. Reviewing and completing these materials in advance will make new hires’ transition smoother and more productive. It’s also important to provide internal communication tools so they can begin establishing connections as needed. These first interactions will set the tone for the rest of the onboarding experience, so think carefully about what to include.
2. Be sensitive to information overload.
It’s easy to become laser-focused on getting new hires up-to-speed as quickly as possible, but effective onboarding goes far beyond a single day or week. The goal of orientation is not to bombard people with training materials. It should not be burdensome or overly stressful, and time management shouldn’t be the driving force. Rather, it should be part of a thoughtfully-designed organizational strategy that supports engagement, relationship-building, and immerses new hires in the company culture and sets them up for success.
3. Keep communications regular and well-constructed.
Particularly in a remote work environment, gaps in communication during the onboarding process can wreak havoc. It’s important to ensure that all communications are coordinated to keep new hires engaged from the start. On their first few days of work, new employees benefit from scheduled orientation time, which will give them more details about their role, the team they’re working with, and the organization. This allows your company to carefully plan for an effective onboarding process and it also demonstrates to the employee that their time is valuable and that they matter.
4. Help them establish connections.
Support success by getting newcomers connected with the people and operations of your company early on. Make sure your program allows ample time to make key introductions. It’s important for new employees to meet with managers, co-workers, and members of the leadership team to promote a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. For more dedicated workplace connections, consider matching an existing employee with each new hire and encourage them to meet regularly during the first few weeks of onboarding. In a remote environment, new hires don’t have the opportunity to meet colleagues in passing so you’ll need to get creative. In this situation, 15-minute meet-and-greets over Zoom or Friday afternoon team happy hours can be invaluable.
5. What happens next?
Excited new hires can easily become disengaged employees when there’s no forethought about what happens after their first few days on the job. They go from being the center of attention to becoming victims of ghosting left to their own devices. Organizations must devote adequate time and energy to making sure that new employees are fully invested and feel that they are a valued part of the team. Consider using predetermined milestones to help measure early successes for new employees. Check in regularly to inquire about how they are adjusting, if they have questions, and to find out what they need for success in their new roles. In a remote environment, it’s far easier for new hires to get left by the wayside, especially after the first week or two. That’s why it’s especially important to create a conscious engagement plan that continues to forge regular connections with new employees in their early months with the organization.
6. Introduce career development.
The first months of employment are the perfect time to introduce any development programs that your company offers and to start discussing long-term objectives that support internal growth. Once they feel acclimated to their new environment, employees want to know that their long-term success is important and that their career advancement is supported. Take this time to ensure that each staff member knows how and when they will be evaluated so there is a clear understanding of expectations and opportunities for growth.
Onboarding is among the most important things a company can do for its employees, especially in today’s unsettled business climate. While implementing an effective onboarding may be more challenging in a remote work environment, taking these key considerations into account can create a smoother process and ensure new hires feel supported.
For 25 years, The HR Team has been committed to helping companies tackle their toughest organizational challenges. If your firm is ready to reimagine its employee onboarding experience, we’re here to help. Please reach out to our knowledgeable professionals to learn more.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.