Employee Onboarding Process: The Shift To Remote
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Employee Onboarding Is Changing

Pivoting to an all-remote eLearning environment can be frustrating for both the employer and new hires. However, with a bit of preparation, the eLearning resources you offer your employees will become more effective and the onboarding process will be more enjoyable for both you and your new employees.

The Remote Onboarding Process Must Be A Team Effort

In the wake of COVID-19, many companies are rushing to design an eLearning process for employee onboarding. Social interaction at work is an important aspect for most people, and its benefits go beyond making the work environment more enjoyable. Therefore, it’s important to not underestimate how often new hires casually ask a coworker for help while you’re building your new onboarding process. Now that employees can’t simply turn to the person in the cubicle next to them, a minor roadblock can become a frustrating loss of productivity, camaraderie, and collaboration.

To avoid these seemingly minor roadblocks, decision-makers must encourage even more collaboration between seasoned employees and new hires [1]. Most employees are going to look to management and follow their example when it comes to collaborating with coworkers. If you aren’t leading by example, you’re doing everyone involved a disservice. In fact, many organizations have even taken this a step further by assigning a seasoned employee to become a coworker coach or mentor for new employees. This collaboration between new and tenured employees also helps new employees to acclimate to company processes and culture. Often, new employees simply need someone to point them in the right direction the first time they attempt a new task or when they experience something not covered in an eLearning module.

Coworker coaches should go beyond responding to questions. Most people are excited to start a new job, but they are also concerned about fitting in, meeting expectations, and learning how they can successfully contribute to the company. Having someone who can introduce them to other people and share information that might not be available through more formal channels can give them a greater sense of belonging and increases the likelihood of someone staying at the company, and this is doubly difficult while onboarding remotely [2]. One-on-ones with both management and coworker coaches provide new hires with opportunities to communicate varying concerns and questions.

Feedback Channels Are A Must

Making adjustments based on employee feedback is a key ingredient in every successful employee onboarding program. If you don’t provide a method for employees to provide feedback while they are going through the onboarding process, others will also be doomed to run into the same roadblocks.

Companies with effective onboarding processes have only become successful in this remote work environment because they provide a method for employee feedback. Processes evolve but those changes are not always reflected in the eLearning courses. This is especially true if you don’t have one central figure or department shepherding your courses and their development. This is where a chief learning officer (CLO) comes in. A CLO is trained and educated in, well, training and education. This role exists to guide the evolution of eLearning courses for both onboarding as well as continual employee development. The CLO can use varying tools to keep track of and deliver courses as well as provide employees with the means to provide feedback. Ongoing employee feedback helps the CLO or Learning Management Software (LMS) administrator keep on top of those needed adjustments.

Encouraging employee feedback can mean having them email their comments, complete a survey, or it can be as simple as having a conversation with them to discuss their experience. Understanding what they did or didn’t like and what could be better can lead to important improvements in your onboarding process. It also goes a long way to let your employees know you are interested in what they have to say and how they feel about their experience. When employees are listened to, they are more likely to stay with the company.

Collaboration Between Departments Is Vital

In a remote environment, it is crucial for HR to communicate with other departments in order to provide a smooth onboarding experience.

It is especially important to coordinate with the IT department [3]. Once the CLO has created all the training materials, it’s up to IT to make sure their delivery is smooth. Onboarding is an unsteady process when a new hire is in-office so when onboarding is done remotely, it needs to be rock-solid. You can’t have an employee waiting for their new laptop to arrive or for the required software to be installed. This might require extra planning, better communication, and more lead time. When employees don’t have immediate access to all of the tools required for work, it can create uncertainty in an already uncertain environment.

Typically, an important part of the onboarding process is meeting executive leadership. Maintaining this aspect of the onboarding process can help alleviate the uncertainty felt by some employees when joining a company in a remote position.

Flexibility Is A Must

Not every company was prepared to switch to an all-remote work environment and not every employee will be ready to embrace it. Being flexible in how and when each employee completes onboarding tasks can help keep employees engaged, make the training more relevant, and allow new hires to become a contributing part of the team sooner. When employees are allowed to incorporate eLearning tasks into their workflow, these tasks become more relevant, aids with retention, and can increase motivation.

An effective learning experience platform (LXP) can provide the flexibility many employees need to be successful in a remote work environment. Flexibility should allow for asynchronous collaboration and self-paced completion. A quality LXP should be seen as a tool that lets employees gain independence and build effective remote work habits from the beginning.

Guidance And Engagement Become Accountability And Retention

New hires often feel a bit lost and out of place in their new company. They’re eager to begin contributing in a meaningful way, build relationships with their new coworkers, and feel like they are part of the team. This can be difficult as a remote worker. However, when the company is able to provide them with the information and guidance they need, employees begin to feel more engaged with their new jobs. Employees who have been effectively onboarded will become productive more quickly.

References:

[1] How to Improve Collaboration in the Workplace

[2] How to Onboard New Employees Remotely

[3] Tips for onboarding new hires remotely during COVID-19 pandemic

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