One of the many challenges of the pandemic has been that young employees are missing out on the career growth that comes from rubbing shoulders with more experienced colleagues in the office. In the past, so much about the company culture, specific industry knowledge, and the softer skills of professionalism has been picked up by more junior employees almost by osmosis, just by proximity to those with years or decades more experience. This places new pressure on the onboarding process.
ONBOARDING IN A HYBRID WORKPLACE
With some adjustments to accommodate remote or hybrid work arrangements, onboarding can still help new hires feel like valued members of the team and begin building relationships with those they’ll be able to learn from. Otherwise, they can start their new jobs feeling adrift and isolated and never develop the human connections that are so important to job satisfaction and career growth over the long term.
Millennial and Gen Z employees are perhaps already well adapted to a hybrid workplace, since they’re accustomed to building and maintaining relationships via technology. But they still need their managers and teammates to make those interactions a priority. (For more on onboarding Millennials in a hybrid environment, you might like this Forbes article.)
MAKE TECHNOLOGY EASY
Since technology will be the channel for so much relationship building, collaboration, work performance and culture, make sure it works — ahead of onboarding. Get new hires their computer and other devices before they start work, so they’re not stymied on their first day. Assign someone to help them with any platforms the team or company uses that they may not be familiar with. And be sure there’s someone to help troubleshoot any issues with getting online or accessing the intranet or email. Younger employees are particularly impatient with outdated technology or clunky systems.
CREATING HUMAN CONNECTIONS
Building work relationships can start even before the first day. Pre-boarding communications from managers and teammates can take the form of in-person meetings, Zoom or Teams calls, welcoming shout outs on social media or even handwritten notes. It’s so difficult to land great talent now — make sure the ones you do manage to hire feel celebrated and welcomed from the start of their onboarding process.
One-on-one time with managers is also important for new hire success, especially in the onboarding stage. Encourage your managers to spend time getting to know their new hires as people as well as employees, and to keep a regular schedule of connecting with them to level set work expectations and provide feedback on their performance.
Many companies find it’s also helpful to provide new employees with a peer mentor or coach. It gives them someone closer to their own level to help explain processes or cultural quirks, and a person they can comfortable asking stupid questions that don’t want to take to their boss.
It’s also important to have managers try to create opportunities to meet in person, early in the onboarding process, especially if collaboration is important to the team’s success. Our research indicates that people feel safer bringing up innovative ideas in collaboration with others they’ve met face-to-face at least once. Once people have spent some time in person, it’s much easier to collaborate at a distance.
Interested in improving your onboarding process? Tribe can help.