The New Onboarding: Distanced

Onboarding Factor #2: Distanced

In the first blog of our series, we focused on the multitude of changes our world has undergone as a result of COVID-19. To say that it hasn’t been an easy journey would be a gross understatement; it’s been difficult for everyone and terribly difficult for many.

As a community of dedicated and committed HR professionals, we knew we were all in it together, and we realized the urgent need to redefine what onboarding means right now. So we did. We actively collaborated with HR and technology industry thought leaders as well as human capital evangelists. The powerful result was a set of four “new” onboarding factors, based upon employee onboarding in its current state.

As most HR practitioners know, the prominent reason onboarding is so vitally essential is because it’s the critical pivot where the candidate experience transforms into the employee experience. Miss this irreplaceable window of opportunity, and you can watch your investment falter and potentially fail.

Onboarding Factor #1: Remote

The first factor we tackled was remote. In a matter of weeks, COVID coerced us into a veritable new age of digital transformation…with virtually no warning to boot! The silver lining? As it turns out, many of the changes the pandemic demanded of us have actually been improvements over onboarding’s status quo.

It’s given companies the chance to take a step back and give serious consideration to their existing onboarding programs and substantially optimizing them for higher employee productivity and employee retention.

In fact, Click’s Chief Product Officer Pete Olson says the abrupt digital transformation triggered by the pandemic is putting a painfully strenuous clutch on both operations and IT departments. “Customers are frustrated by the gap between what their companies should do and what they’re actually able to do in this ever-changing ecosystem,” Olson explained. “The digital journeys we help create for our clients are a linear progression.” These meaningful digital journeys are:

  • Guided by design
  • Mobile-first
  • Repeatable and automated
  • Personalized to scale
  • Flexible for pre-boarding, onboarding and all HR lifecycle activities

Being forced to work in a more digital capacity, Olson says it was time to adopt a remote approach to onboarding. “It’s actually been a positive thing, offering companies with the chance to optimize their existing onboarding program and protocols.” One thing’s for certain, Olson maintains: remote is here to stay. “With Click’s platform, our clients were already well ahead of the curve thanks to seamless, automated onboarding. But there’s always opportunity to grow. And we must never stop evolving.”

Onboarding Factor #2: Distanced

Along with the myriad of remote changes we’ve experienced during the pandemic came the inevitable physical distance barriers. It forced us to distance ourselves if we wanted to stay healthy and alive. Of course, this undoubtedly impacted onboarding. Without the ability to onboard new employees in person, a “distanced” onboarding model became the norm.

How distance was redefined
Once the world was in the throes of the pandemic, the concept of “distance” was interpreted differently across organizations, industries and even teams. “The departments within an organization – sales, finance, accounting and so on – will each have a very alternative experience now because of COVID-19,” Olson stated. He says the imminent question at hand is how an enterprise can support the combination of in-office versus remote employees.

Olson contends there are considerable changes to contemplate, like the distinctive remote needs across functions and departments.”It’s precisely why a seamless, digital and automated onboarding platform that’s configurable to your organization’s specific needs is fundamental, now more than ever,” he confirmed.

The new worker delineation
During this time, the concept of “essential workers” became an integral distinction. As defined by the National Conference of State Legislators, essential workers included individuals in the following industries:

  • Energy
  • Child care
  • Water & wastewater
  • Agriculture & food production
  • Critical retail (e.g., grocery stores, hardware stores, mechanics)
  • Critical trades (e.g., construction workers, electricians, plumbers)
  • Transportation
  • Nonprofits & social service organizations

In a very short period of time, appreciation and acknowledgment for this sector skyrocketed. There was monumental awareness and gratitude for the commitment of these workers who were putting their lives (and the lives of their loved ones) on the line, at risk, every single day. As such, it was coupled with an outpouring of empathy and respect from the public. From large corporations to small businesses, the wave of admiration and appreciation not only fueled camaraderie but also strengthened the communities around us.

Essential & non-essential workers defined
Unintentionally defined as “non-essential workers,” the reverse group included employees who had the ability to work from the comfort of their homes. But as appealing or enticing as “working in your jammies” sounded at the time, the luster quickly faded. Days swiftly became fraught with excessive video meetings and phone calls, instant messages, texts. The lines of a typical eight-hour work day were blurred to the point of indistinguishable hours in front of multiple screens. 

Whether essential or non-essential, the pandemic forced everyone to realign their everyday lives. Between quarantining and the six-foot mandate, we lost proximity with one another – the human element. As formidable as it was, it was a necessity. We had to re-learn how to communicate while working from a distance. 

So what did we do to make this undeniably herculean undertaking a reality? With government and CDC guidance, we implemented several courageous, proactive strategies:

  • Compliance & sanitation plans – For companies to be compliant with state and federal mandates, organizations with both all-remote and hybrid working models adopted revised compliance and sanitation plans.
  • New protocols & safety procedures – We highly recommend auditing your existing employee onboarding process to initiate new protocols and sanitation plans. When your team is together physically, define your “new normal,” per the six-foot barrier. Most of all, get creative! Like air high fives or other contact-free quirks and foibles. Keep that energy high!
  • A fully digital experience – The knee-jerk, panicked reaction to adjust protocols and adopt new ways to work has mellowed. But the reality is clear; we aren’t ever returning to the way things were, pre-COVID. It’s time to get rid of legacy tools, archaic processes and mediocre employee experiences.

What’s next?

It’s finally time to be optimistic and enthusiastic about the days, weeks and months ahead. Yes, many of us are still distanced…working from home in some capacity. But it’s truly about how we integrate technology and innovation to improve our new normal. It’s an exciting time, and for our own success, we must wholeheartedly embrace the digital experience of:

  • Remote working obstacles
  • Tech innovations
  • Cutting-edge solutions
  • All-virtual employee experiences
  • Digital connections

How to deploy a compliant, digital & seamless experience
The good news: you don’t have to start from scratch! Bring forward what’s been effective and retool it in an automated, digital-first way so you can meet employees where they are. Keep the cultural aspects of your organization, and advance them into the digital age.

Distanced: the bottom line
The message is clear: digital-first is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s a basic requirement. The “distance” factor suddenly becomes a non-issue when you integrate a seamless, fully digital onboarding process and employee journey experience. Now, there’s no reliance on physical proximity.

The really amazing news? A number of organizations have seen up to a 91% reduction in new hire onboarding time because of reduced and/or eliminated administrative tasks. That could translate into thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings, depending on the size of your business.

When your organization is positioned to become fully remote, you can depend on Click Boarding to deliver! Our dedicated team of experts will analyze your specific business requirements and build a digital, seamless and compliant employee journey process for your new hires. It’s the win you’ve been waiting for, and we’re excited to be a part of it with you!