Onboarding new starters in the hybrid world

Article by Nikolas Kairinos, CEO, SoffosTM

Hybrid work, digital nomads, ‘The Great Resignation’ – no matter your line of work, chances are that you have heard these buzzwords at some point throughout the past couple of years.

Currently, media focus seems to be centered around the final point, with workers leaving their posts in astonishing numbers. And research seems to suggest that this trend may continue, should organizations fail to meet employees’ evolving expectations.

At present, while new starters are generally pleased with their hybrid working setups, they aren’t exactly enamored with remote onboarding practices. In that same survey, many individuals said that this often made the induction period worse, as 48% found it harder to feel a sense of belonging to the company and team culture. Given that many workers are searching for new opportunities, it is high time that businesses start thinking about how they can improve their onboarding strategies.

So, where should they start?

Strong relationships are at the heart of onboarding

Generally speaking, one of the things that individuals have missed most throughout almost two years of remote work is spending valuable time with their colleagues. When it comes to onboarding, these interactions are still important – perhaps even more so – as new recruits learn the ropes and settle into their new roles.  

That said, creating an onboarding strategy that has a personal feel, and one that works with geographically scattered workforce is not an easy task. Although firms have made huge strides when it comes to replicating in-person exchanges remotely, the fact remains that workers tend to struggle when it comes to quickly integrating into the company culture while working from home. According to a recent survey commissioned by SoffosTM, this was the case for the majority (60%) of respondents, although half of the workers polled also wanted their next job to allow fully remote work.

There are clearly some contradictions at play. While employees are eager for the option to work remotely, they also want an onboarding experience that feels both personable and thorough – not just a few video calls and sifting through endless company slideshows. Thankfully, there are many ways that businesses can take the chore out of those all-important first few weeks.

An ‘onboarding buddy’ scheme would be a good starting point – ensuring that all new starters have an experienced team member at their side, should they want to discuss more granular aspects of the role or wider company practices. Whether this process happens in person, remotely, or a blend of the two, it provides a bespoke approach to the onboarding process and an informal context for employees to get to know their surroundings. Beyond the onerous task of sifting through induction paperwork, this should help new members of staff feel as though they’re already part of the team.

While not all organizations will have the resources required to take this approach – particularly as individuals may have a lot of questions about their new role, and companies are hiring at an unprecedented rate – all is not lost. Rather than creating and distributing lengthy documents detailing commonly asked questions, hiring managers would be wise to invest in technologies that can do all the hard work for them.

Employing Conversational AI & getting your organizational knowledge in order

One such technology is Conversational AI (CAI). When time is of the essence and new hires need to retrieve company information on demand, these tools can be a godsend. Platforms bolstered by CAI allow employees to self-direct their own learning experience, empowering individuals to ask their own questions and get to the knowledge that really matters, when it matters.

Given that most companies generate vast amounts of data – not all of which is well-organized or even genuinely useful – another solution worth considering is software that can organize enterprise knowledge effectively, so that new employees can easily find the information they need. Sometimes, searching for the right document can be a difficult task – even for experienced employees – so newer recruits don’t stand a chance, and may not know who to turn to when confronted with a large database of resources. As such, it would be wise for companies to get their data in order; implementing a centralized resource hub where workers can seek out information about their roles, company policies, or even standard compliance training, which would get newbies off to a good start.

In the wake of COVID-19, the onboarding process cannot remain as it always has been. The working landscape has changed beyond recognition, and it’s time that businesses take this on board when training new staff members.

Nikolas KairinosAbout the author

Nikolas Kairinos is the chief executive officer and founder of SoffosTM, which is building the next generation of educational technology solutions. Whether you’re a trainer, teacher, or individual app user, the SoffosTM Cognitive AI Engine puts knowledge locked away in all your files and resources straight into the palm of your hand.  

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