The New Onboarding Factors: Remote

Onboarding Factor #1: Remote

The chances are good that you’re ecstatic 2020 is finally in the rearview mirror. We now have a brand new year ahead of us – a fresh start, a blank canvas. The only difference is that unlike years past, the transition from 2020 to 2021 was completely foreign to the vast majority of the population. It was also completely frightening, confusing, aggravating, infuriating and downright confounding.

As we’ve navigated the storm together for almost an entire year, we’ve learned a vast amount. During these learnings, we made mistakes. Many of us were forced to make it up as we went along a good deal of the time. But how do you react to an event that affects everyone yet you’ve never experienced before? You make mistakes, learn from them and take those lessons to strategically move ahead.

“The New Onboarding Factors” blog series examines the four key principles our Click employee journey experts have developed over the past several months as a result of the pandemic. Each principle is based on the state of employee onboarding at the present time, given the obvious changes, developments and adjustments that have been necessary to adapt.

We’ve learned many lessons and anticipate that we’ll learn a great deal more before the end of 2021!

Defining the digital experience

As unsettling as last year started out – the likes of which we haven’t experienced since the 1918 flu pandemic – we’ve taken the mistakes and lessons we’ve learned and acclimated to the best of our abilities. Onboarding as we knew it prior to 2020 is a memory. But we’re still in the process of vetting the definition of “new” onboarding. For example, how do we create engaging, memorable experiences that employees deserve?

The reality is that employees are working under new circumstances and protocols because of COVID, doing the best they can. But being on video calls, day in and day out…and sometimes all day long, without the luxury of in-person interactions is taking its toll. Employers have provided the devices, connectivity and services their employees need to complete their work, but not the employee experience they need.

According to Click’s Chief Product Officer Pete Olson, the sudden transformation that’s resulted from COVID-19 is straining operations and IT like never before.” Our clients have told us stories of how they’re scrambling but still missing the mark.” Olson says there’s an imperative need for a digital playbook to help employers understand how to execute employee onboarding, post-pandemic. He adds that organizations need to determine and roll out the necessary tech stack to scale.

Today’s reality is a digital employee experience

Once upon a time, we had a physical environment for workers. We had technology that’s been accumulating over the years, with a cultural environment that’s supported by our physical environment. It was an efficient operating model.

When the pandemic reared its ugly head in early 2020, that standard operating model was completely turned on its ear, and we were unprepared. Consequently, the cultural component is now struggling because the technology can’t accommodate the lack of the physical environment.

Echoed in our #BORNdigital webinar, industry evangelist Dion Hinchcliffe agrees with Olson on the strain the digital transformation has had and how we’re turning things around with a more digital approach. Hinchcliffe maintains that “…technology is a force multiplier. It creates value, and it accelerates things. We’ve got to figure out how we can better situate [technology] in the workplace.” Hinchcliffe contends that it will allow companies to more seamlessly create an employee experience that supportively navigates workers through their employee journeys.

Olson holds a parallel stance. “The potential is there. There’s adequate tools, processes and performance metrics to capitalize the digital age. But we must develop a plan that’s strategically aligned to the outcome of the business,” he maintained. We must determine how to connect the tools and processes in support of the people, filling the gap in a coherent, cohesive way.

In retrospect, digitizing the onboarding process is something that HR evangelist Jess Von Bank says we should have been prepared for in the first place. “Onboarding is one of those talent processes, to be honest, that we should have been doing better and differently all along. Now, this whole year – given the pandemic – we have been forced to shift. We’ve had to redesign the process out of necessity, but we should have always been doing digital onboarding.”

Changes & challenges

SHRM reported last spring that the shift from in-office work to a remote working environment has left employees feeling disconnected from colleagues when working remotely, with a substantial 26% of employees report feeling isolated. With this in mind, Olson says the challenge with “new onboarding” is to focus on the following:

  • create a compelling culture within the organization, one that employees genuinely want to be a part of
  • put additional focus on attracting and retaining high-quality talent
  • transform the analog employee experience into a digital one, including the devices on which we work

How do we accomplish this? Start with a fully automated remote onboarding experience.

Onboarding Factor #1: Remote

Because the pandemic has forced many of us to function in a more digital capacity, we’ve had to adopt a remote approach to onboarding. This has actually been a positive thing, providing organizations with the opportunity to improve their existing onboarding program and processes. One thing’s for certain: the general consensus is that remote is here to stay.

“Remote will be a different experience for different departments: sales, finance, accounting and so on,” Olson commented. “The looming question is how do you support the mix of in-office versus remote employees?” The Click CPO said there’s much change to consider, such as the unique remote needs across functions and departments. “It’s why an automated onboarding platform that’s configurable to your unique needs is critical, now more than ever as these challenges have presented themselves,” Olson stated. He recommends the following top four requirements if your organization is migrating to a digital automated onboarding platform:

1. Cloud-based – A solid remote onboarding platform is cloud-based, secure and centrally managed. A personalized link to access their individual portal is sent to candidates to securely input and access their sensitive personal information.

2. Customizable, engaging & informative – An effective digital onboarding platform should support change, especially the rapid changes we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. To keep your workforce informed, the platform should allow HR and hiring managers to easily add, edit and delete content or messaging as needed.

3. Mobile-first – New and existing employees are hungry for news and updates. A mobile-first onboarding platform lets you easily, quickly and conveniently connect with employees on their cell phones, giving you the ability to provide instantaneous updates via text.

4. Compliant – An automated onboarding platform must be compliant with state, local and federal and GDPR and SOC 2 Type 2 regulations. Compliant platforms engineered with an extensive library of forms and the ability to create customizable forms empowers your organization to offer a compliant remote onboarding experience.

Deploy a fully digital, seamless experience

OK, but where do you start? First of all, it’s not about starting over. It’s about bringing what’s working forward and recreating that in a digital-first, automated way to meet your employees where they are. To accomplish this, you must retain the cultural aspects of your organization and evolve them into the digital age.

By integrating a fully digital, seamless onboarding and employee journey experience, you no longer have to rely upon the crutches of physical proximity. You could realize a major impact to your efficiency as well. In fact, some organizations have seen up to a 91% reduction in new hire onboarding time due to reduced and/or eliminated administrative tasks. The numbers don’t lie. Digital-first is a must. It’s a requirement from here on out.

Create a sense of belonging from a distance

Data from Gartner’s Reimagine HR Employee Survey indicated that 41% of respondents don’t feel connected to colleagues when they work remotely. Additionally, 26% of employees feel isolated when they work remotely.

Already a concerning percentage, there’s little doubt these feelings fluctuated wildly throughout 2020 given the tumultuous state of the world. That’s why as an HR professional, it’s critical to create a sense of belonging and team inclusion, even from a distance. Feeling like you’re part of a team undoubtedly fuels productivity, engagement and camaraderie. As such, Olson offers these helpful tips:

1. Get creative and think outside the box! Establish new ways to stay connected to employees and for employees to stay connected to one another, even when they’re not sharing the same office space. At Click, we have morning coffee with our colleagues in Germany once a week. We Zoom bomb Clicksters on their birthday and have several Slack channels for social and cultural exchange.

2. Try new tools and technologies. We are living in a digital transformation, so it’s time to let go of those antiquated apps and systems and adopt a tech stack that evolves your organization, pushing it forward.

3. Non-verbal signals. For smoother, more productive meetings, introduce cues to better navigate virtual meetings. For example, when a break is needed, it’s time to move on to the next topic or the meeting is ending.

Jess Von Bank said it best: “Everyone is motivated differently, so get to know each of your new employees and what drives them.” Such a seemingly small act will provide the much-needed validation that connects with your new hire.

Remote: the bottom line

The pandemic caused a major metamorphosis in the world of new employee onboarding. Thankfully, the seamless and automated Click Boarding platform was engineered for remote working with full digital capabilities from the very beginning! Unfortunately, as Jess Von Bank pointed out at last year’s HR Tech Symposium, the market is just now catching up, largely in part because of COVID.

We’ve also stepped up to partner with our clients on new, innovative ways to engage with remote employees in this new remote world. Gone are the days of shaking hands with a new team member, meeting the team for lunch or requesting equipment from IT.

When you’re ready to become fully remote, trust Click Boarding to deliver! Our team of experts will analyze your specific business requirements and build a fully digital, seamless employee journey process that just works. It’s the win you’ve been waiting for, and we’re excited to help.