HomeEmployee ExperienceEngagementLevelling up onboarding for the hybrid world

Levelling up onboarding for the hybrid world

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Inclusive and communicative online teams will foster an environment where offline culture is replicated online, where employees feel supported and heard wherever they are

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Flexible working is here to stay; a recent Microsoft study found  more than half (51 per cent) of UK workers who currently have the option to mix remote and office working, would consider leaving their employer if this hybrid option was removed.

Indeed, many employees are voting with their feet, by seeking new roles in the search for greater flexibility and rethinking their “worth-it” equation.  As these new employees are welcomed, however, the reality of onboarding at a new business in the past two years has not been without its challenges, for both the workers and HR leaders alike.

The challenge of onboarding remotely

More than a third (36 per cent) of UK workers who started a new job since the start of the pandemic experienced their entire onboarding process without ever setting foot in the physical workplace. Challenges were of course then unearthed, with 42 per cent of these workers saying they struggled to form new workplace relationships and 21 per cent found it harder to feel part of the company culture.

Additionally, 23 per cent of those who onboarded remotely, reported finding it difficult to earn the confidence of their colleagues, struggling with learning to use new software and applications (24 per cent) and not having a manager or team “in the room” to run ideas past and get guidance from (33 per cent).

The challenges of remote onboarding were also recognised by those HR decision-makers (HRDMs) responsible for managing the process, with more than a third (36 per cent) reporting that remote onboarding made it harder to provide effective, role-specific training for new starters. Furthermore, 35 per cent were concerned about ensuring employees had access to the information they needed to hit the ground running and 28 per cent worried about upholding their company’s culture and reputation.

The ramifications of removing remote

Despite the initial hiccups experienced when onboarding staff remotely, employees and HRDMs alike believe the benefits of offering hybrid working outweigh the teething problems. Indeed, HR professionals are cognisant of the risks of not having a hybrid working model, with the most pressing concerns identified as an inability to retain new talent and risk of losing staff to organisations that offer better hybrid working options (38 per cent), a negative impact on productivity (25 per cent), a negative impact on wellbeing (24 per cent), employee burnout (23 per cent) and an inability to keep up with industry competitors (23 per cent).

That said, more than a third of HR professionals (37 per cent) who have onboarded new staff remotely over the last two years say that the process, albeit challenging, is resolvable with the right support and technology solutions in place. Microsoft Viva gives organisations the ability to look at all areas of the company and understand how to deliver better work experiences and helps make the process of onboarding staff remotely. This presents organisations with an opportunity. Whereas remote onboarding may have been a necessity over the past two years, for many, it is now a choice. Offering straightforward access to learning resources, providing tools to balance productivity and wellbeing, streamlining the discovery of knowledge and expertise, or simply making it easier for employees to connect, are the ingredients an organisation can now deploy to empower individuals and teams to be their best from wherever they are.

Reshaping work with connection in mind

Despite the drawbacks, the long-term benefits of hybrid working outweigh the disadvantages, with well over half (59 per cent) of HR professionals saying it has had a positive effect on the mental wellbeing of the workforce. Therefore, there is a real opportunity for organisations to explore solutions that will reshape work around individual roles, preferences, and personal lives, to allow all employees to bring their best selves to their work.

Our employee experience platform, Microsoft Viva creates an environment spanning learning, wellbeing, creating company culture and connections, discovering new knowledge and unearthing insights on how your organisation is working and can create an environment where the onboarding process is rewarding and inclusive for new staff, increasing the chance of those new hires becoming long-term employees.

Last year, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Ally.io, a leading OKR (objectives and key results) platform, designed to help revolutionise how organisations use technology to bring deeper connections to work, purpose and results in the hybrid world. Ally.io has joined Microsoft Viva Goals to help companies embrace the new digital work life and get employees closer to their team and company objectives.

By developing a tech-enabled and data-driven hybrid working model, with a considered approach to onboarding and team engagement, organisations can create a digitally rich culture, which will be to the benefit of everyone. Not only will employees feel integrated, but it will help businesses to attract and retain their top talent, as well as empowering employees to learn. Through the Learn platform in Teams, Viva companies can utilise tailored learning experiences which are not only by HR departments, but by managers too.

What is clear is HR, IT, and leadership teams need to work together to assess the opportunities laid before them and make the most of a tech-enabled hybrid model. By building more inclusive and communicative online teams, businesses can tune into an environment where their offline culture is replicated online, where employees feel supported and heard wherever they are – and not just because they’re sharing a desk space with a colleague.

To learn more about this topic, click here to take part in HRD’s latest research conducted in partnership with Microsoft. 

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