The importance of innovating in the onboarding process in times of pandemic
It is proven that the first feelings that a worker experiences during his/her first days at a new job influence the time that he or she decides to stay in the company.
Now that many are starting jobs in teleworking formats because of Covid-19, those who hire with the objective of retaining talent have a new challenge: adapting and updating their onboarding processes by listening to the needs of new workers.
Telework has come to stay. We have to be ready, there are no more excuses
January has come around offering an explosive but long-awaited cocktail: a lot of work, uncertainty and a new way of working that we assume has come to stay.
During the pandemic, teleworking has saved entire projects, jobs and businesses. It has proven to be a resource that works and it has gained the trust of many who used to look at it with suspicion.
However, it is important to highlight that it also has drawbacks due to its hasty implementation and the unusual context. These shortcomings can become opportunities for those companies that recognize the importance of adapting and innovating in teleworking. And these companies that are redefining their internal processes to try to minimize negative externalities are consolidating teleworking as a practical and effective tool.
This phenomenon is not trivial at all. Rarely in the history of the world of work has there been such drastic and radical changes in the way we work.
The reality of those starting their new job from home
According to Randstat Research reports, two and a half million people started a new job in our country during the second quarter of 2020.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of these new jobs required face-to-face activity, a small part had to start from home.
New executives, managers, technicians, accountants, and administrators of companies, as well as workers in sectors where telework could be easily done (IT, communication, consulting services and consulting or finance), experienced for the first time the meaning of starting a job online.
Not everyone is experiencing it in the same way
The experience and feelings of people who are starting their new job in the form of teleworking are varied. There are those who are less happy with the format and the reception that the company offers them, and others for whom it is a challenge or, perhaps even, a nightmare.
Despite the fact it is true that there have been so many different experiences, it is important to highlight the common factors. These can be grouped into three main groups.
- The characteristics and responsibilities of the new job.
It is not the same to start a new job in the telework format if you are a manager or team leader as if you are a technician or staff since neither the number of people with whom you have to interact in the first days nor the skills to be demonstrated (leadership vs. expertise) are the same.
In this sense, tele/videoconferencing (essential for telework interactions) is still considered today as an effective tool for day-to-day work but can come across as “cold” in the first meetings and presentations.
Following the dimensions that Henry Mintzberg uses to define the different jobs, it could be said that those highly specialized jobs (focused on performing a single task), formalized (when the task to be performed is clearly limited) and defined by already trained workers (the company does not have to take care of their training), are easier to be started in telework format because they require a smaller number of interactions and the achievement of the expected goals is simpler and “natural ”compared to any face-to-face onboarding.
- The personality and attitude of the worker
It is not the same to start a new job “through the screen” for a worker who just seeks to fulfil responsibilities of his position, as for someone who also seeks to build certain personal relationships and values the work environment or business culture.
It is clear that the effort the second ones will have to make to achieve their aspirations are greater. As a matter of fact, one of the characteristics of the telework is that everything that goes beyond the screen and the work is practically annulled. “There are no chances to drink coffee with a colleague”.
In addition, it becomes even more difficult for those workers with a more insecure character. When they start a new job in the face-to-face format, it is already difficult to express doubts, for instance, and the barriers are doubled with the teleworking format.
- The resources that the company is allocating
There is no telework without a minimum of basic technological resources. However, for new employees, a “good reception from the company” means more than just providing a computer, scheduling 3 or 4 introductory teleconferences, and offering some introductory e-learnings. It involves adaptation and empathy.
Here is where the magic of the Onboarding process comes in.
The importance of innovating in the Onboarding process.
Did you know that hiring your employees with a solid and structured Onboarding program improves the retention rate by 82% and boosts the productivity of the new employees by more than 70%?
Organizational innovation is a key aspect in the strategy of any company that wants to remain a leader. And this is even more relevant in a dynamic, uncertain and competitive environment such as the one around us nowadays.
For a long time, innovating “outwards” has no longer been enough, it must also be done “inwards”. And it is the case that, in times of pandemic, innovating to care and improve the internal processes of the most valuable resource of any company (its workers) is not only possible but also necessary.
Innovation in people within an organization can take place from a variety of angles. In most cases, its purpose tends to revolve around improving processes that simplify and facilitate their day-to-day and their relationship with the company. These can be focused on making improvements, from improvements in the motivation and sense of belonging of their employees to the assimilation of a real and shared business culture.
However, for the investment to be profitable, it is important to detect at which point in the chain innovating is more efficient. Undoubtedly, the circumstances of each company are different and their needs can vary greatly from one to another, but what many studies have shown is that innovation in the first step of this chain, in the beginning of the life of the new worker in their company, generates great benefits.
Take a moment and think about the amount of resources your company has wasted in a new employee that leaves the company in less than 3 months. How many times has it happened to you? According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 50% of new senior employees leave the company in the first year and a half.
Obviously, the solution is not to reduce this first investment but to make it profitable, that is, to perpetuate as long as possible the stay of new workers (we assume you want him/her to continue in your company). Despite the fact that crises bring about short-term thinking, human capital must be taken care of from the beginning because it is sensitive and has a memory. But how can you do that?
In a study conducted by Aberdenn Group, 90% of organizations believe that workers make the decision to leave the company in the first 6 months. On the other hand, according to The Whynhurst Group, there is a 58% higher chance that a worker will continue in their company after 3 years if they are offered a structured incorporation program.
Thus, it is clear that offering a complete onboarding process, organized and adapted to the real needs of the worker in his/her first days, represents an opportunity. However, it is not always so easy to build it. Most onboardings have a common mistake: they are generally designed taking into consideration the needs of the company instead of the need of the worker.
For some months now, adapting the onboarding processes already built to the telework format is a need for new workers. Observing their experience, understanding the dynamics, identifying which pain points are the most penalizing in the worker-employer relationship, etc., is crucial to adapt ourselves to the new context and ensure the success of these new employees. No more excuses. We do not have more time. We have to act now.
 Randstat Research (2020, August, 29). Análisis datos paro y afiliación e impacto del Covid-19 – Abril, Mayo y Junio de 2020. https://research.randstad.es/analisis-datos-paro-y-afiliacion-e-impacto-del-covid-19-abril 2020/https://research.randstad.es/analisis-datos-paro-y-afiliacion-e-impacto-del-covid-19-mayo-2020/, https://research.randstad.es/analisis-datos-paro-y-afiliacion-e-impacto-del-covid-19-junio-2020/
 Randstat (2020, August, 29). El sector primario, con más de 208.500 firmas, sigue a la cabeza en número de contratos, a pesar de reducirse un 14%. https://www.randstad.es/nosotros/sala-prensa/el-sector-primario-con-mas-de-208-500-firmas-sigue-a-la-cabeza-en-numero-de-contratos-a-pesar-de-reducirse-un-14/
 Mintzberg, H. (1988). La estructuración de las organizaciones. Barcelona: Ariel.
 Laurano, M. (2015). Research Brief: The true cost of a bad hire. Brandon Hall Group.
 Bauer, T. N. (2010). Onboarding new employees: Maximizing success. SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guideline Series, 7.
 Laurano, M. (2013). Onboarding 2013. A New Look at New Hires. Aberdeen Group.
 SHRM Presentation (2007) by The Wynhurst Group.