· 3 min read · Insights

How to onboard successfully in a post-pandemic world

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COVID-19 has transformed the way we work. So how do you successfully manage to onboard new employees in this hybrid world?

Long before we’d heard of COVID-19, businesses asked two vital questions about their recruitment programmes: what do we need to do to retain talented employees? And, what steps do we need to take to keep our recruitment costs as low as they can possibly be? As we slowly emerge from the pandemic these two questions have become more important than ever.

Research by Eagle Consulting suggests that one quarter of all employees are planning to leave their present positions once the pandemic is over (Eagle Consulting, The Employee Tsunami is Coming, 2020).

Some surveys suggest the figure could be yet higher. Several sectors are already facing tough times when it comes to filling vacant positions. The reasons are complex, but for many furlough, having to work from home, perhaps juggling childcare and home schooling at the same time, have made them pause to reassess just what they want from their working lives.

For those who have been home schooling, Eagle Consulting predicted those planning to leave was 33% A return to the office in some shape or form seems inevitable, but home working for at least part of the week is set to become the long-term reality for millions.

 

A double workplace whammy

We have two inexorable pressures coming along at the same time. First, a rise in vacancies and a struggle to find the right people to fill those posts. Plus a dramatic change in the way we work, the so-called hybrid workplace.

Not only will we be bringing many new faces into our organisations, we will also be doing so at a time when the ‘normal’ processes we associate with the onboarding of employees are put under pressure by changes in the very way we work.

Just how do you settle a new employee into their team when they might only be seeing that team three out of five days of each working week? It can be tricky to get this right at the best of times, and these are still a long way from being the best of times. The last thing you need is new recruits feeling unsettled in their first days of joining a new workplace.

Technology to the rescue?

The Work Institute’s 2019 report on retention suggested that 38% of employees leave in their first year. This figure may well have increased in the last two years. Given that each leaver could be costing you between 90 and 200% of their annual salary (Enboarder, Saying Goodbye: What is the Cost of Employee Turnover to your Business?) then settling employees into their new role quickly and efficiently is vital if you’re going to avoid financially damaging levels of churn.

Engaging those new employees right from the start, ensuring a transition into your organisation which is as smooth as it can be, will pay dividends - in both the short and long-term. After all, the Work Institute also estimates (in a 2020 report) that 78% of staff turnover is actually preventable.

Technological solutions exist to ensure the onboarding process works as smoothly as possible. As with many post-COVID trends, the move to greater automation has been accelerated by the pandemic.

According to McKinsey (The Future of Work After COVID-19, February 2021) two thirds of 800 global senior executives surveyed said that they planned to increase spend on automation and AI. But spend on technology doesn’t guarantee success.

It has to be applied in the right way, and that means matching the technology to the needs of your employees, not the other way around. Any technology also has to be as attractive as the online experience which employees have got used to in their lives as consumers. New hybrid ways of working need new hybrid solutions.

So how do you make that hybrid solution work? There is much to be said for adopting the four C’s as a solution. These include:

Compliance: the all-important ‘paperwork’ of contracts, health and safety procedures, legal documents 

Clarification: ensuring your new employee clearly understands their role and its functions

Culture: just what are your organisational norms, your business goals, and your own unique language for communicating that culture?

Connection: how can you help employees to build strong relationships and friendships with both their teams and the wider organisation?

They are, of course, just the starting point of planning a successful automated onboarding solution. But they form the basic building blocks which will enable you to ensure that your investment is planned in the best way to deliver an onboarding experience which truly delivers for you and your employees – wherever they work. Get it right and you can expect to have 58% of your new hires still with you three years later, according to Wynhurst Group.

There is no doubt that the coming months are going to be challenging, and not just in terms of retention and recruitment. But those new challenges are also new opportunities, provided you know how to make them deliver for you, your company and, above all, your employees.

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Chris Jones is customer success director at Enboarder