A Tale of Two Onboardings
For some, it’s the best of times. For others, it’s the worst of times.
Today is a fragile time for employees and employers as they try to establish successful working relationships in a remote work world.
This is especially true for employees hired during the pandemic, who may struggle to get connected within the social fabric and culture of organizations while working virtually.
As a hiring manager, if you do onboarding well, you set the stage for an employee to be successful. On the other hand, a less-than-stellar onboarding experience can introduce doubt and worry into the new hire’s mind. And as we observed with the Great Resignation, employees have no problem leaving a new job if it doesn’t live up to their expectations.
Here are two real-life onboarding stories that demonstrate the good and bad of onboarding.
Joe Feels Detached
Joe recently accepted a new job as a digital marketing manager for a fast-growing software company. The company has recently made numerous acquisitions, with many new hires coming onboard and being rapidly integrated.
While they had some rudimentary standard operating procedures for onboarding new employees in place, the company struggled with consistency in implementing them.
The pandemic made it worse.
“Prior to COVID, they were not set up at all for remote work,” said Joe. “So, when the pandemic hit, they had to adjust fast.”
After Joe accepted the offer, he was left mostly in the dark for two and a half weeks prior to his start date. No communication from his hiring manger or HR, other than the offer letter.
“Two days before my start day, somebody who I didn’t know, emailed to ask if I had received my laptop,” he said. “It did arrive but was missing accessories needed to be compatible with my home office.”
His login credentials were confused with another employee with the same name, and Joe started receiving that person’s emails, and vice-versa.
Though the mistakes were ultimately resolved, Joe was not fully good to go until the end of his first week.
A virtual team meet and greet was somewhat smoother, though there was minimal cultural integration. Many of the attendees didn’t bother to turn on their cameras, even though there were new employees they had never met.
“It seemed very transactional with no sense of the teamwork that I experienced in my previous job,” he said. “There were no questions like, “What brought you here? What is your background? Tell us about your family? Instead, the leaders jumped right into expectations and work requirements.”
His role has been somewhat murky. “The vision for this role wasn’t completely outlined when I came onboard. With all these new employees, everyone seems like they are still learning what to do,” he said.
When a key employee resigned, it created a void on another project and Joe was asked to fill the void. Because he is a team player, Joe has shifted into that role, but it is not what he expected.
Nevertheless, he plans to make the most of the opportunity. “In the short term, it has made me uneasy,” Joe said. “In the long term, the more exposure to different things in the company I have, the better.”
Eric Feels Connected
Eric went to work with a well-established consulting company as a tech services consultant, assisting clients with their SAP implementations.
His laptop arrived in time, his login credentials were correct, and the onboarding started with an overview of the company culture and history.
“They provided a lot of resources for me to reach out to if I had questions,” Eric said. “Even though I am virtual, it is reassuring that they are only one message away,” he said.
He was onboarded with a number of new consultants from all over the world, but his breakout group included those from the region he worked in.
The two-week training course ran every day from 9-2, with frequent breaks, and options to complete his assignments in the evening or whenever was convenient. This fits well with his lifestyle, and he is able to go to the gym for a workout between his day work and his self-directed evening work.
“Everybody leading the presentations had their cameras on during training,” he said. “We did some role play with typical client scenarios in a virtual setting, which was very useful and fun.”
“I developed a great connection with my group. We studied together. We met for lunch. We even went to a basketball game together.”
He was also assigned a buddy (a longer-term employee) for him to go to for coaching or other questions.
“The buddy system is one of the best things a large company can do,” said Eric. “He has become a good friend of mine. We hang out, and I can message him on Teams at any time.”
Two onboardings. Two different outcomes. The investments that companies make to significantly improve their remote onboarding experience have positive effects for performance, interpersonal relations, career success and many other outcomes – not to mention can be critical for retaining new employees in a critical market.
Looking for a partner to advise on your onboarding and hiring practices? Reach out today, we'd love to help.