The pandemic has been the biggest disruption to the workplace in…well, ever. It has also accelerated the adoption of emerging workplace trends and transformations like flexible work practices and advances in technology. Every single change that occurs in relation to work, whether employees are in the workplace or not, impacts the employee experience (EX).

The EX is what employees encounter, observe and feel over the course of their employee journey. It covers every touchpoint they will have with their employer, from the first impression to the last goodbye, and centres around a collection of factors: cultural, technological and physical.

Of course, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the employee journey, touchpoints and needs have changed, so the EX has taken a new form. 

In terms of the cultural elements, communication and collaboration has moved either fully or partly online. This presents a challenge around building team morale and unity. 

From a technological perspective, organisations have had to adopt workplace technologies to facilitate productive working in distributed environments. 

The physical elements of the EX have also been transformed – since organisations have been operating within a distributed or remote workforce, work has encroached on the home lives on employees, blurring the line between personal and professional. Indeed, work now extends beyond the physical constructs of a workplace. We are reminded of this every time we jump on video calls with our colleagues and can see their living rooms, their children and their pets!

Other key components of the EX that have evolved since the pandemic are recruitment and onboarding. One-third (32%) of employees who leave a job during the first month do so because they have been improperly onboarded, so it’s worth remembering how much impact an employee’s onboarding experience has on their employment journey. It’s therefore critical that organisations continually protect and nurture the onboarding experience, despite all the changed circumstances.

Many organisations will continue operating remotely, and so onboarding is also being conducted remotely. To ensure virtual new starters get the same level of insight and introduction into a company as those who are onboarded in-person, the pandemic onboarding experience must be nurtured. Below are 5 tips: 

1. Don’t delay

When recruiting and onboarding virtually, it’s natural for the new starter to feel a sense of disconnection from their new employer and colleagues. Therefore, it’s important to begin the onboarding process quickly to build a connection and instil a sense of trust in the employee.

2. Ensure the new starter has everything they need

Not providing a new starter with essential hardware or information before their first day suggests that their employer doesn’t care about them. It’s the equivalent of turning up to an office on your first day and finding out that there isn’t a desk ready!

To avoid making a poor first impression, HR should arrange for any hardware to be delivered to a new starter’s home address well in advance of their start date, and for IT to ensure they are all set-up with relevant accounts and log-ins. Sending an employee handbook is also recommended because it will fill the gap of knowledge about the company culture, its policies and procedures, as well as information about who does what that is usually gained in-person.

3. Schedule the “welcomes!”

Get the new starter connected with their peers as soon as possible. To facilitate the circumstances of all employees, whether they are on location or working remotely, managers should ensure any welcomes are done both in-person and via Zoom and other channels. Introduce new hires on email, and do a video conferencing call (via Zoom or similar channel), where team-mates can meet face-to-face, virtually. This is essential for morale and connection.

4. Create a personalised onboarding plan

For an onboarding experience to be positive and effective, it will likely span several months and should consist of regular check-ins and communications around objectives and KPIs (key performance indicators), relevant to the employee in question. The more personalised it is, the more effective and motivating it will be.

5. Job-specific training

If onboarding is remote, it’s likely that job-specific training will also be remote. This can be great if the employee is provided with eLearning courses and tools, which can be tracked and measured. Employees want to know that their employer is invested in their future at the company, which is why continual professional development is such a huge element of the EX – and one that the employer can reap the rewards of.

The EX is in a state of flux – even during settled times it is never set in stone. However, instead of dropping the ball on best practices, organisations should use this time as an opportunity to hone processes and ensure new starters are given the best first impression of your organisation.

HROnboard, an ELMO company offers a best-in-class software solution that reduces the amount of time HR teams and leaders spend securing the best candidates and undertaking the critical onboarding process for new hires. Our solution also helps manage internal employee role changes and can create a smooth and seamless process for exiting employees.

ELMO Software offers innovative cloud-based HR & payroll solutions to more than 1600 organisations across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, helping them to manage, engage, and inspire their people. Our solutions span the entire employee lifecycle, from ‘hire to retire’. This includes a comprehensive suite of complementary solutions that further enhance the onboarding experience, namely Recruitment, Learning Management, HR Core, Survey and Connect. For further information, contact us.

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