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Written on November 12, 2021
It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected the global economy but also caused populations worldwide to adjust their day-to-day operations.
In past global economic crises, including The Wall Street Crash of 1929 (and subsequent Great Depression) or the financial crisis of 2007-2008 (which sparked the Great Recession), afflicted industries had no choice but to make changes in order to adapt to new realities.
Organizations had to learn how to mitigate hard times with flexible and easily implemented strategies. And while changes are never easy, they can also be seen as opportunities for companies to re-evaluate their internal processes in order to do things better. This is what is often referred to as the silver lining of dark moments, and these trying times in 2021 are no different.
Many companies have been forced to adopt remote working structures to keep their businesses afloat. In fact, many experts believe that remote work will remain the norm. Although hiring has significantly decreased for some industries—some of which have even seen unprecedented unemployment rates—other less affected sectors, like within the online grocery industry, are seeing activity rise with companies needing to hire new employees. And so, hiring managers are now having to rethink the traditional onboarding experience in order to create engaging, personal and positive onboarding experiences remotely.
Remote onboarding differs from traditional in-person onboarding most of us are accustomed to, as it requires a different approach and skillset—the lack of face-to-face interaction greatly affects the dynamic, pace and scale of the whole experience.
One of the challenges can be the disconnect with the company’s culture, given that new joiners do not have the opportunity to be in physical surroundings that embody a company’s spirit and values.
Companies who are pivoting towards remote work and hiring systems have to take these factors into account and make sure to compensate for these gaps by building connections in different ways. Continuing to set new joiners up for success, HR managers have to be creative and leverage new technologies to ensure a full and genuine remote onboarding experience.
In this article, we take a look at key stages of onboarding adapted to the remote work setting, and provide recommendations in order to help HR managers better design great onboarding experiences to suit the “new normal”.
If we remember the basics: onboarding is the practice of welcoming and integrating new joiners within an organization. In our previous article, 4 Essential Onboarding Checklists for New Employees, we highlight the positive impact that great onboarding experiences can have for both short and long-term employee dynamics—ultimately benefiting an organization’s continued financial and structural stability.
Bonusly notes that 87% of HR leaders believe that improving employee retention rates will be critical for business survivability, especially within the next five years. In the context in which a physical workplace is not accessible (due to social distancing practices), providing a positive employee experience remotely is now more important than ever.
Establishing a strong first impression when welcoming new joiners to the team, which has been proven to help increase levels of employee engagement, is just as critical now as it was before—except that it may require more effort and finesse since now executed at a distance.
Remote onboarding can be considered a longer process as it requires a longer preparation period. Given that now, most new joiners are not physically entering a company’s offices—and, by default, cannot be immersed into a cultural environment organically—HR managers need to put a little more elbow grease towards creating an engaging initiation, where remote employees can feel just as connected to their employer and peers as if they were there in person.
Below, you’ll find ways in which HR managers can adapt the key stages of onboarding to be more sensible and practical when it comes to the remote onboarding experience:
Cultivating a sense of connection during a period of social distancing is extremely important for all humans. While employees are physically separated from their team and office environment, it can be easy to feel disengaged or bear the emotional tax of self-isolation—especially for new joiners who have not had the chance to forge organic relationships with their colleagues and experience the company spirit first-hand.
Below are a few additional practices HR managers can adopt for an uncompromising onboarding experience, even if remote:
These small yet impactful moments show consideration, help bridge the omnipresent digital divide, and allow new joiners to gain a deeper understanding of their colleagues’ personalities.
Now more than ever, well-thought-out onboarding is especially important for remote employees, given the physical limitations and lack of opportunities to organically bond with peers and integrate within the company culture.
Adapting to new realities, no matter what they are, is never easy and team leaders have the responsibility to uphold a solid stream of communication in order to make new joiners feel a part of the day-to-day, even remotely.
At the end of the day, the key is to build engagement with new hires and help them establish positive relationships with the team by leveraging creativity and technology, and adopting the right digital communication tools to facilitate this.
While these times may feel uncertain, remote onboarding experiences don’t have to be. With proper planning and by establishing smart strategies, the challenges brought on by working from home can be overcome. A way to make remote onboarding easier and stress-free is with Softstart—an onboarding platform that supports every step of the way. Make sure to sign up today!