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Onboarding- how times have changed

By Elaine Seale-McKend

How does it feel to be inducted remotely to a new role in a new organisation? What are the consequences for the individuals and businesses that have changed the way they onboard new recruits?

When I worked in recruitment advertising, huge amounts of time and budget were spent on creative concepts, designing presentations, printing and circulating induction booklets, glossy artwork, videos and the rest. Enormous effort was taken to give new hires a taste of the organisation, seeing the top team (even if that meant no access), hearing the talk of previous recruits, talking about what the business valued and what the expectations of new recruits were. It was a way of clearly messaging what was valued and rewarded.

Fast forward through a pandemic and lock downs, and organisations scrambling to find a way to quickly onboard their new recruits, both experienced hires and young graduates. The concern of organisations was how could they re-create the face-to-face experiences that formed such a valuable and cultural experience. The onboarding experience now is often fully or partially remote requiring detailed planning of communication, early training and clarity of expectations.

So. What’s been lost and gained?

I’ve been lucky enough to have a friend who’s not been through one but two induction programmes during the pandemic. Both remote and with differing feedback. Clearly there are lessons to be learnt. Here are the top 3 things to get right:

- The tech. It's bad enough when tech lets you down in the office but when that is your only lifeline to the office and your work, it’s absolutely imperative that it works, is simple to use and you have access to the right information easily and quickly.

- Access to the right people. Empathetic and available instructors who know how tough it is to start a new job and most importantly create psychological safety

- Structure. Having time scheduled out with clear links to training modules or zoom meetings are so important when you may be feeling lost or isolated.

What’s been gained?

  • Time and ease of access – ability to connect from wherever you are based.

  • Less daunting for some new recruits who do not feel as comfortable in new environments

  • Cost savings for organisations and the ability to get the talent where it is.

  • Widening your talent pool in an environment where there is a war for talent in so many areas.

What’s been lost?

  • An immediate and immersive experience, early bonding with other recruits and employees.

  • Clarity around what is expected, and specific attention paid to individual roles and those that may have valuable knowledge to share.

  • Opportunities to buddy and foster relationships with other new hires

  • Culture and values – what are the ethics in your organisation, what kind of experience are you wanting to deliver to customers and your employees? How do you transmit values when you cannot have shared experiences?

  • Observation and listening to ‘the way things are done around here’ in other words cultural nudges.

  • If the whole team is distributed remotely then potentially it's an opportunity and an essential part of doing business.

It you are looking for ways to improve your onboarding experience for individuals and teams please reach out to us at Teamery – ‘building better teams’.

If you would like to know more about how Teamery is partnering with clients to support their thinking and design practical solutions to improving the hybrid working experience please contact us at to set up a preliminary discussion.

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