Onboarding Factor #4: Adapting onboarding
We’ve come to the fourth and final blog in our “New Onboarding Factors” series. It’s a culmination of the first three onboarding factors we’ve introduced:
The pandemic forever altered the way we work as well as our day-to-day work routines…everyone agrees on that. Along with emigrating to the new world of remote work, it’s integral to your new hires and the foundation of your team that you establish a sense of belonging, especially from a distance.
Even the strongest of teams have been dramatically challenged by the confines and constructs which COVID ultimately caused. That’s why It’s so important to create team inclusion right now. These measures will undoubtedly increase employee engagement and foster productivity, now and in the future.
A TIMELINE: The evolution of remote work
- 2012 – According to Gallup data, 39% of employees worked remotely. (source)
- 2016 – Gallup reported the number of remote workers jumped to 43%. (source)
- 2018 – 3.6% employees (5 million workers) worked from home at least half the time. (source)
- 2021 – Almost 42% of U.S. employees are now fully remote because of COVID-19. (source)
- 2025 – Upwork’s “Future of Workforce Pulse Report” estimates 36.2 million Americans will be remote by 2025 – an 87% spike from pre-COVID numbers. (source)
When it first began, the pandemic created an immediate sense of being distanced or separated from one another. Under the new CDC regulations, social distancing and mask wearing were introduced and mandated, along with a host of other precautionary measures. No longer could we gather around the water cooler to catch up on last night’s episode of The Bachelor. We couldn’t even go back into work. Instead, we urgently and haphazardly converted our lives so we could adapt to working remotely.
Since only 3.6% of the general working population actually worked remotely prior to February 2020, it was a difficult, strange and burdensome lift for all of us. Fast forward to March 2021, and the modest 3.6% has skyrocketed exponentially to 41.8% of remote workers. That’s a massive, transformative change occurring within the matter of a few short months.
But like the stellar HR professionals we are, we asserted ourselves en masse. Not only did we pivot; we restructured, redeveloped and rearranged our daily lives. We followed new compliance and sanitation plans, whether we were working from home, working in the office or managing a hybrid version of the two. We adopted new pandemic safety protocols and procedures, kept at least six feet apart and redefined our new normal!
There’s no question that COVID-19 had a profoundly negative effect on our mental health and well-being. At the beginning, not even the experts knew how long this global event would last. When the weeks turned into months and the level of employee engagement continued to drop, it was clear something needed to give.
Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Survey revealed these startling statistics, further validating the need to listen to new hires and employees and address their well-being needs:
- 41% don’t feel connected to colleagues
- 26% feel isolated with from co-workers
These findings were reinforced by a PwC pulse survey in January 2021, indicating that physical and mental well-being are still the #1 concern with employees across the country:
- Physical & mental well-being: 25%
- Ability to disconnect: 22%
- Work-life balance: 21%
- Workload: 20%
What does this mean? It’s very simple: we’re over a year into this pandemic thing, and employees are tired. Tired of working obscenely long hours. Tired of playing the role of parent, teacher and employee simultaneously. Tired of the isolation, the seclusion and the social distancing. Tired of working with a team over a screen instead of over a cube wall. We’re just really, really tired.
How do you prevent your employees from falling prey to isolation and loneliness? You need to be proactive in recognizing the signs and doing what’s necessary to help reduce these feelings whenever and wherever you can. Connect with your new hires and employees, and make it a priority if you haven’t already. Because when you stop listening to your employees for long enough, you’re actually the one who’ll stop being heard. Be diligent in reinforcing these vital connections whenever possible.
Onboarding Factor #4: Adapting onboarding
The fourth new critical onboarding factor is adaptations. We define it as the way in which the HR community has absorbed the many lessons and learnings during this time and pivoted to adapt to the new normal. And we know it hasn’t been easy. Far from it.
In a recent diginomica.com article, author Martin Banks underscores the reality of the pandemic and its repercussions on the American workforce. “Work must now be considered as an activity, not a place, and this changes the rules for everyone.” When the rules change, what do we do as HR professionals? We adapt.
But it’s not that easy, Banks emphasizes. There’s a crucial need not only to adapt but to optimize the employee journey experiences for consistency across all environments, whether it’s in the office or in your home. “Incoming candidates and new hires see and feel the same processes everywhere at the same time. So whether they are applying for a role in Asia, France, UK or the United States, they need to see and feel the same experience.” In a nutshell, it’s about adapting to the new reality we’re living in and maintaining the safety levels prior to 2021.
How to adapt your onboarding in 2021 & beyond
To ensure the quality and success of your onboarding program this year and for years to come, Click Boarding has discovered the secret: adaptations. When the things around you change, what do you do? You adapt. And you survive. In fact, the more you adapt and evolve, the better you’re set up to thrive, because it takes an iteration or two (or four or 10) to find that perfect groove.
The ability to shift the situation to accommodate the circumstance – or adapt – is exactly what all of us are doing right now. We’re developing and integrating new models for working remotely, in-office or in a hybrid work environment. With guidance from the CDC, these new models help ensure employees are not only safe but also more flexible and better equipped to do their job, no matter their physical job location. If you don’t, you’ll find your organization and your employees falling behind at mach speed.
Danielle Balow, Senior Solutions Manager of Click’s Consulting Practice, fully supports this thinking. “Adaptations are a huge part of the new normal, so we must be resilient and think about how to adapt new models on the fly,” Balow stated. She emphasized the need to let go of those happy comfort zones and standard ways of the past. “You need to change…and change often. More than likely, it’ll probably take once or twice (or five times) to find what’s right for your situation. So just start,” she exclaimed. Balow encourages organizations to make employees feel they’re safe, with the options and flexibility to work in this new environment.
Tactical opportunities for you & your team
- Change is here to stay…embrace it
There’s no going back to the “old” normal, and that’s OK. There’s a whole new world ahead of us, and we’re just beginning. Be open to adapting and pivoting as you navigate the “new normal” and support ongoing learning.
- Regularly ask for feedback
Seasoned employees and new hires alike can provide fresh perspectives that may not have been considered before. Plus, it’s a rewarding way to engage employees on all levels! Use employee engagement surveys and pulse surveys to check in on employees and see how they’re doing.
- Check in with employees and new hires early, often and regularly
The past year has been difficult for everyone, and we continue to encounter challenges as we navigate the unknown. People are struggling during this transition, so help alleviate the pressure. One-on-one meetings are the perfect opportunity to offer empathy, support, advice and more.
- Over-communicate with new hires across channels
Be proactive in your approach! Strive for consistency and clarity in your communications and repeat them as frequently as your new hires require.
Try new tactics
- Adjust meeting structure & frequency
We’ve all been there: one video call after another after another. When setting up meetings, be mindful of screen and video fatigue. Tip: At Click, we set hard stops for our meetings to ensure they don’t last longer than scheduled. It keeps everyone on point, makes meetings more efficient and is respectful of everyone’s schedule.
- Host virtual coffee chats & happy hours
We all need some down time, and we need to stay connected. Take time for regular social opportunities, Slack a peer or teammate to catch up or send someone an email just to say “hi!”
- Put your creative pants on
The ideas are endless! Share videos from leaders and team members with new employees. Send them a swag bag or a food delivery gift card on their first day. Request a virtual tour of their home office. At Click, we ask our new hires these three questions on their first day:
- I wish I knew <blank> when I first started at [company name]
- The first thing I should tell my boss when I start a job is <blank>
- Three things I’ve learned about myself over the years
Adapting onboarding: the bottom line
There’s no going back to the past, and we must push forward. A big part of moving on is focusing less on what things used to be like and adapting to the world as we know it today. As daunting and as risky as that may sound, it’s truly the only way our organizations will evolve.
To move your company and onboarding process forward in the new normal, you need a scalable, mobile-first solution. That’s where the Click Boarding platform comes in. Find out how our seamless, mobile-first and automated onboarding and ongoing employee experiences will elevate the employee experiences and meet new hire engagement expectations. When you’re ready to learn more, connect with our team!