Why Your Onboarding Process Needs to Adapt to a Hybrid Workforce

Posted in Best Practice Thoughts & Culture

by alicia

The pandemic shook the workplace to its core, causing businesses to restrategize and adapt at breakneck speed. Companies had no choice but to move to hybrid work models and allow staff to have more flexible arrangements.

The top-of-mind concern: Who will survive this unprecedented wave?

This question still lingers as worldwide vaccinations are underway and the signs are pointing to getting back to “normal”—whatever that means.

One thing we’re finding that is becoming more evident, people have found their remote work comfort zone and don’t necessarily want to return to the office, and managers are scrambling to make compromises.

How’s that working out?

McKinsey & Company says companies have accepted that hybrid work is going to be a big deal, but 68% of them have no real plans to make it happen. No strategy for allowing hybrid work will result in unhappy employees, which ultimately will make it harder for you to attract and retain top talent.

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Great employee experiences will define the future of work

Younger workers want a better connection with their employers

If you only ‘think’ that all of your employees are engaged, here’s what you should know: Gallup research found that only 15% of employees feel engaged at their current workplace. That’s reason to worry. Millennials will soon be the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce. They are looking to be valued within a strong company culture.

When working relationships are one-sided, they lose interest. Millennial workers want to be part of a team. If they feel invisible or underappreciated, they’re likely to seek more engaging employment elsewhere.

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Here’s what you can do — Remote and hybrid work models are showing they’re here for the long-haul. As businesses, we have to step up and stay more connected in all areas of operations. That means structured processes like onboarding will need an overhaul.

There’s no short notes version to onboarding 

Some hiring managers treat onboarding like a one-and-done task that can be handled in an afternoon. In reality, if you think about introductions, early meetings, training, answering questions, and follow-ups, onboarding is an ongoing process that helps explain the job to new hires and integrate them into your organization—while building real human connections.

A study conducted by the UC Davis Graduate School of Management showed that maintaining work relationships is a huge challenge for remote workers, and people who feel connected with their managers (even if it’s through video calls and chats) are more likely to get promoted and stay in a company for the long term.

When onboarded remotely, new hires face the early challenges of a work environment minus social connection and guidance to help navigate the new office’s culture. Compound this with inconsistent access to managers and the inability to observe cultural norms in action. There’s no water cooler and no way to hang back and watch how things work.

No need to panic? You can “raise the bar” by regularly talking about job expectations and standards.

Hybrid onboarding is about including the elements — introducing, integrating, acquainting, socializing — that new hires would see during in-person onboarding. 

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The benefits of transformed onboarding to your hybrid work future

1. Reinforce company values through consistent engagement

The popularity of hybrid work models is rocking the boat for companies trying to maintain strong corporate values and consistent company culture. An engaged onboarding process means the information new hires are getting is uniform between teams, regardless of their preferred working arrangement. Recent research shows that 91% of new hires who go through a thorough onboarding process feel a strong connection to the organization, and 87% feel they understand the scope of their role better. 

Using standardized procedures, mobile devices, and personal messaging, HR teams can ensure new hires are in sync with important company values, and maintain them.

2. Create a communication channel that fosters better feedback 

In a dynamic and effective work environment, decision makers need to hear and respond to feedback from employees. This is especially important in the onboarding process since it’s this interaction that lays the foundation for any new hire’s relationship with the organization.

How do you find out what needs to be improved? Make sure feedback is collected in a structured and useful manner. When teams are spread across different physical locations it’s a good idea to have regular follow-ups to keep them in the loop about the received feedback.

We know. It sounds like a lot. Fortunately, there are innovative solutions, intuitive software, and intelligent algorithms that can help you by providing access to simple pulse surveys and customized follow-up requests. This helps you create a culture of open communication and collaboration, building strong relationships right off the bat.

3. Develop human relationships beyond borders

Over the last ten years, multiple studies have shown the importance of having strong workplace relationships, resulting in lower employee turnover and high job satisfaction. However, in preparing for a future where employees can come to the office or WFH, keep in mind they’re also more likely to be isolated, which weakens coworker and manager relationships.

Keep your teams connected. Video conferencing and regular check-ins help manage the relationship between on-site and remote staff. Unfortunately, these interactions are often limited due to a lack of structure and consistency. Managers end up having a hard time using these casual conversations to receive feedback or to evaluate how well a new hire has integrated with the rest of the team.

Enboarder’s fully integrated onboarding platform keeps you informed about how often employees are connecting with their managers, what channel they communicate on, and the content of these conversations. This fosters deeper relationships beyond occasional coffee chats and check-ins, regardless of work location.

Ultimately, the onboarding process is your chance to set clear expectations, develop personal relationships, and improve communication between employees and employers. To maintain an effective onboarding process, business leaders need to adapt to a hybrid work future by embracing modern technology that provides structure and environment, embodies the businesses’ values, and promotes inclusivity across the board.

We’re Enboarder. Our experience-driven onboarding platform makes delivering best-in-class onboarding simple. Learn more here.