“Hybrid work”: it’s a term that entered our shared vocabulary in a major way in the past year. It can mean somewhat different things for every organization, from a split workforce (some fully remote, some in-office), to one where employees all split their time between working from home and onsite. Whatever the arrangement, one thing is clear: the workplace isn’t the same place it used to be.
The way we work has fundamentally changed
According to Gallup data, 60% of full-time “remote-capable” employees in the U.S. (employees whose jobs can be done remotely, at least part of the time) worked primarily on-site prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fast forward to 2022 and 81% of those same employees are now working either exclusively remote or in a hybrid capacity, with only a small percentage anticipating ever returning to the office full time.
Whereas some organizations are offering attractive incentives such as cash bonuses, free meals, or paid childcare to encourage employees to return to the office, many others have shifted to hybrid or “remote-first” models. And when it comes to attracting new hires, flexible work should be a top priority. In a recent survey of job seekers conducted by Bankrate, 55% of respondents said flexible working hours and/or remote work is a higher priority for them now than it was pre-pandemic. A study by Slack also found that 76% of those surveyed want flexibility in where they work, and 93% want flexibility in when they work. For many, flexible work arrangements are non-negotiable.
Onboarding new employees: then vs. now
Of course, while there are certainly many benefits to remote and hybrid work, like anything, it also comes with its own challenges.
Hybrid work isn’t just changing where people work – it also calls for a shift in how companies operate. One example of the way things are changing is with employee onboarding.
In the past, most of the employee onboarding process was done onsite. From interviews to orientation to their first team meeting, being onsite gave new hires the opportunity to interact with other employees and get acquainted with the way the company operates.
But when an employee starts remotely, they don’t have that same connection. As a result. they may not know who the right person is to ask when they have a question, feel disconnected from their company, or struggle to form relationships with their new co-workers. What’s more, when some employees are in the office and others are remote, there’s an inconsistent experience, leading to varying levels of employee satisfaction.
[Related Article: 3 Remote Onboarding Tips for a Better Employee Onboarding Experience]
As one professional who started at a new company in mid-2020 and onboarded virtually told the Harvard Business Review, “Things that would have required me to simply turn around in my chair and ask my colleague at the neighboring desk in 10 seconds now take me several emails back and forth to understand.”
In Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index (a global survey of 31,000 people combined with an analysis of LinkedIn labor data and productivity signals from Microsoft 365), the survey revealed that compared to their peers, employees hired since the pandemic began in March 2020 “are less likely to feel included (60% versus 64%), have weaker relationships with their direct team (51% versus 55%), and are at greater risk of attrition (56% versus 38% are likely to leave their employer in the year ahead).”
With a distributed workforce, the burden falls on HR teams to ensure new hires feel connected to the organization and their team members throughout their onboarding (and beyond!). This is essential to overall job satisfaction, and ultimately, employee retention.
It’s time to rethink your employee onboarding process
While you can’t exactly replicate an in-person dynamic with a distributed workforce, you’ll still want to ensure new hires are engaged, excited, and energized throughout the onboarding process. And that may mean rethinking the way you currently onboard your new team members.
But if you’re not sure where to start, it might be helpful to hear from a company that’s already done so successfully!
We recently hosted a webinar with Rocket Companies’ Director of Onboarding Operations, Danielle Golas, who spoke about how they onboarded 46% of their employees remotely since 2020. She also sharedsome useful tools you can implement to help with employee onboarding at your own organization.
Ready to update your onboarding process for the modern work era? Watch the recording here!