CHRO Community Conversation hears about onboarding in a hybrid work environment

The way employees are onboarded must evolve, says Enboarder’s Chris Jones.

In the new hybrid world of work, it’s more important and challenging than ever to ensure employees feel like they understand an organisation’s culture, goals, and vision from the start.

As we settle into this new era, the way employees are onboarded must evolve along with every other aspect of how employees work, communicate, and collaborate.

In this CHRO Community Conversation sponsored by Workday, Chris Jones, head of customer success, EMEA at Enboarder, discusses how business and employee expectations around hybrid workforces and specifically onboarding, have changed and how to pivot to meet them.

Chris says that Enboarder was founded to solve the problem of how to create engagement, not just in the recruitment process but also long term.

“What we have seen is the amount of money and time that is spent on the recruiting process in making sure it’s smooth, engaging and the candidates are highly energised,” he says, adding that the problem with having this kind of excitement upfront is that you have almost built an expectation that it will continue along with the employee’s journey within the organisation.

“What often happens when the person has accepted the offer is we kind of take our foot off the accelerator a little bit and tick the box that we have got them.

“That period between offer signing and day one is the most crucial moment and we identify that as the opportunity where companies can enhance the experience.”

The statistics of a terrible onboarding experience, Chris says, are:
86 percent of new hires decide how long they will stay in the company in the first six months.
One out of five new hires leaves, never to return, within six weeks if they have a bad onboarding experience.

The processes of being in the office, and having people around have disappeared and now the need for some nudging and coaching has been made more important than ever, he says.

Traditional onboarding
Chris explains that the traditional way of onboarding is broken. Traditional onboarding includes paperwork, forms, compliance, process, and people coming through the door.
“This is not the way we should be engaging and onboarding our new employees, particularly in this new world of work.”

At Enboarder, they believe in a new way called experience-driven onboarding, “which is much more focused on the individual, and it is thinking about treating that individual as a consumer. For example, if someone was going to purchase a product, what would the experience they would get be like? We want to try and replicate that experience with the employee onboarding journey.”

The main components to focus on are:

  • Creating unique and personalised experiences
  • Looking at ways to boost excitement and engagement
  • Sparking human connection between the hiring manager and new hire and between team members and the new hire

Research on expectations and impact of the hybrid workplace
Chris says there is a lot of uncertainty about the future, so Enboarder surveyed 1,000 people ranging from employees to business leaders across the world to provide multi-generational and regional insights into the workforce.

He shares some of the findings:

  • The undeniable realisation: employees and businesses thrive with greater flexibility.
  • Hybrid work is poised to become the new norm
  • Businesses think they are doing a better job at hybrid work than they really are
  • A major disconnect between leaders and employees is paving the way for a monumental retention crisis
  • The current state of work is unsustainable

Chris notes that the key takeaways they wanted to pull out from the findings of the report are to embrace the change: “If we don’t don’t look at what employees are asking for and the way the world is changing, there is a huge risk of falling behind.

“And when it comes to the talent market, do anything you can to be better than your competitors and offer a bit more of a life perspective. If you don't, there is a risk of losing talent.

“Get creative with physical spaces, cut through the noise and communicate clearly. Lastly, we haven’t nailed the hybrid work yet: it’s new and no one has a set plan yet, so don’t be too hard on yourself.”

Engagement
People wellness executive Ruth Wotela from Silverbridge says HR almost needs to relook the whole employee lifecycle and see how they can work around improving that, especially in a hybrid work model.

“I think what makes it exciting now, especially for the team and me is that every now and again we need to keep our people engaged. So one of the things we've done specifically in terms of onboarding is move away from having managers in the organisation to having self-directed teams.”

Ruth says this came from principle of trusting of their people. “We trust that we appoint competent people. So we are giving them the authority and the ability to make decisions. When we are onboarding and when we have new hires we make sure that they are fully set up to work from home, and that involves getting a chair, a table, we get them routers and set up their Wi-Fi because I think sometimes those are things we take for granted. We also emphasise the importance of social interaction.”

She says they create moments and opportunities for teams to specifically come to the office and spend time together and they don't need to be there for long.

“We can't underestimate the importance of that social interaction, especially when people are working from home, and the plan is to continue creating these moments where we give teams an opportunity to just physically get together.

“Because we've seen, especially for the new people, it also adds a lot of value to be physically sitting together, with their team members and having small talk which is difficult to sometimes have when you're in a virtual setting.”

Roland Glass, chief business officer at TalentSmith, adds that as much as companies are considering employees and workplaces and the continuum of remote working and hybrid working, he thinks companies are all grappling with that in terms of culture, performance, and a team connection.

“I want to hone in on the cultural element. If we considered the fundamental building blocks in organisational culture – at the core is purpose and values, but then what goes into the culture is things like rituals, behaviours, what behaviour do we celebrate and not celebrate.