Amazon’s famous ‘Day 1’ approach has never been truer than ever! Because interacting with employees virtually, every day, is indeed a new day in itself. In this digital-first era, it is hard to fathom human resources as a function where the human touch is absent. With remote working becoming the new-norm, organizations are likely to lean heavily on the ability of digial solutions, as an integral piece, for human resources.
This new best practice threw away any preconceived notions such as productivity turnaround, when working from home or the probable lack of trust, when working remotely. Gone are the days when organizations had constraints of hiring individuals, who were required to be located in the same city as the office. The silver lining was the ability to go geography-agnostic and easily hire talent from the furthest of the regions – absolutely anywhere on the map. In all probability, virtual hiring and on-boarding is likely to become a permanent feature across companies, even as we ease into the new normal. In fact, LinkedIn’s The Future of Recruiting report states that 78 per cent of APAC’s talent agree virtual recruiting will continue post COVID-19.
Having said that, this also brought to light new and interesting challenges for everyone in the human resources fraternity. While it is great that you can hire individuals based out of literally anywhere in the world, how do you invoke a sense of belonging, for them? Physical spaces do have the ability to get people closer, to help new folks absorb the organizational culture and build better team spirit with coworkers. But remote working setup has thrown a big curveball – how do you get new joinees to believe in and relate to the mission and vision of what the organization is striving to achieve? Hence, the need to go above and beyond, to make an employee’s initiation into the organization, an impactful learning curve.
This is how we explored and designed – a New Joinee Assimilation program – to tackle all possible curveballs, slated to come up in the near future. This three-pronged approach is based on the Three I’s of Assimilation.
This refers to Pre-boarding and Onboarding. The approach to assimilate a new joinee starts right from the day the individual accepts the offer. A 60-day notice period is average in any industry and hence it is imperative that HR actively engages with candidates during this phase. Constantly staying in touch by sharing any information about the organization, such as – message from Founders, overview of the organization culture, any relevant news about the organization, laudable milestones achieved – will help keep candidates engaged and initiate the process to build a better bond. As part of this process, ensuring that the joining kit and IT Assets reach the candidate and most of the onboarding formalities get taken care of before the candidate joins, helps ease the tasks on Day One.
It is essential that new team members get an overview of what the organization does and how it functions. Once they start working, they tend to get immersed and are at sea about the nuances, it’s similar to a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. The best way to kick-start the initiation into the company is with a dedicated program over few days, where recent hires get face time with the leadership team, to hear from what each one of them does and what their functions are responsible for. These sessions will help achieve a better understanding about the organization and the commitment that the leaders intend to inculcate.
What happens if candidates are thrown in the deep end of the pool on day one? More often than not, they will sink rather than swim! Thus, the need to have an immersive structured plan for the initial 90 days. One way of looking at this process is by breaking it down into three buckets – Learn, Build and Do.
- Learn: Should focus on giving access to information and knowledge that will help the individual understand the goals and nature of their work. This period will have scheduled trainings and conversations with relevant stakeholders – internal and external. A central Wikipage-esqe learning repository will do wonders to equip the new team member with all information needed.
- Build: Should have the individual shadow people at work and start taking a stab at sidekick projects, beyond their professional expertise. By the end of this phase, the team member and the manager need to collaborate and finalize the goals for the Individual.
- Do: The final phase – expect the individual to get completely immersed in their routine and manage tasks independently. All these three phases should have regular check-ins by the HR head and the line-manager, in order to track progress of the new hire.
It is prudent that the HR function spends time, effort and money to build robust systems and technology, in order to enhance the onboarding experience and make it as seamless as possible, even when done virtually. While technology is a great enabler to get the word out there to attract talent, human touch goes a long way in cementing loyalty, which is an invaluable asset in the face of change.
Ayush Sinha is Vice President, Human Resources at SugarBox Networks
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