Companies have realised they still need to hire despite COVID. Early in the pandemic, JobKeeper led to low staff turnover and low hiring rates. Throughout 2021, the tide turned. Businesses had to find new ways to operate and hire more staff to keep the operation going.
Onboarding in Australian SMEs has traditionally been in-person and largely informal. Even well-documented onboarding becomes outdated if you have not hired someone for that exact role in a few years. SMEs often hire and retain based on cultural fit and even a feeling of ‘family’: this is tough to achieve remotely.
Furthermore, virtual communication now sits at the centre of every stage in an employee’s life. Digital onboarding creates new avenues for connecting with hires in efficient and engaging ways. Employees can complete their paperwork, review company policies, and learn about their role digitally.
‘82% of respondents in a 2020 Gartner Inc. survey reported that they intended to continue offering remote work, even when employees can return to the workplace.’
What happens when you get digital onboarding wrong?
Remote onboarding can lead to high failure rates and attrition. People can feel vulnerable and unsupported when starting a new role. This feeling worsens with no one in the office giving a reassuring word or an encouraging smile. New starters may struggle with their position if you do not have a mature digital onboarding process.
Employees who experience poor onboarding become unproductive and may leave the company. The reason for this is simple: people unfamiliar with your company’s systems and procedures take longer to complete tasks. While this is normal in the early days of onboarding, people without the right help, from the right people, may struggle more than necessary.
Onboarding does not only affect new employees. It can have significant impacts on your whole business. A poor digital onboarding experience generates high turnover, which increases costs and lost revenue. People who experience poor onboarding are more likely to badmouth your company to potential hires and customers, making it harder for you to attract top talent.
How to create an excellent digital onboarding experience
Your focus for digital onboarding should be ensuring your hire does not feel disconnected from the team. To achieve this, you can replicate some fundamentals of in-office onboarding and adapt them to the digital setting. I suggest you:
- Connect your new hire with their colleagues: It is important to connect people with their colleagues when onboarding new employees. You might set up an introductory video call or encourage existing employees to greet new hires via instant message.
- Assign someone to guide your new hire through onboarding: Assign a ‘buddy’ to guide new hires through digital onboarding. Their buddy can be the first point of contact for any general questions and guide them through onboarding tasks and provide feedback on their progress.
- Provide the resources your new hire needs to complete onboarding tasks: This ensures that they can hit the ground running and be productive as soon as possible. New hires will be more likely to feel comfortable and satisfied with their job if they have the resources they need on hand.
‘Gallup found that only 29% of hires feel prepared enough to excel at their new role.’
Address the challenges of digital onboarding
There are many ways to get digital onboarding wrong. One of the biggest mistakes that companies can make is to skimp on the process or rush through it to get new employees started as quickly as possible. Doing so leads to confusion and frustration for your new employee and may cause them to leave the company within a short period.
Some of the challenges that new hires experience during digital onboarding include:
- Feeling isolated: Digital onboarding can become isolating for new employees, especially if they have had few opportunities to work with their colleagues.
- Information overload: If you give new hires too much information when onboarding them digitally, it can lead to unnecessary stress and may cause them to consider leaving.
- Not enough information: Giving digital hires too little information during the onboarding stage can negatively impact their productivity and engagement. When new employees do not have all of the information they need, it increases their frustration.
- Policies for work communication: When a company hires new employees, it is essential to inform them of your communication policies. You might specify guidelines for email, instant messaging, video meetings or phone calls. By informing digital hires of your communication policies, you can ensure they feel comfortable communicating with their colleagues.
How the Microsoft suite facilitates digital onboarding
Microsoft delivers a comprehensive set of tools that facilitate digital onboarding. It provides a secure platform for online communication and collaboration, making it an ideal tool for organisations looking to implement a digital onboarding process.
Microsoft Teams coupled with quality video and audio hardware can help contactless staff onboarding. It also facilitates ongoing training for team members that require remote assistance to learn new skills or overcome specific challenges in their role.
Persistent chat, through platforms such as Microsoft Teams, allows new employees to chat with their colleagues without face-to-face meetings that take up time. It gives workers higher chances of performing well during remote training periods and saves valuable resources by improving employee productivity.
SharePoint sites have become one simple go-to place for new team members to learn and find relevant information. This level of convenience saves time so employees can focus on doing great work instead of wasting it trying to figure out where everything is stored online.
Refine digital onboarding with Wyntec
Wyntec assists with creating the business processes, software, and systems your management for digital onboarding. We ensure new starters have a successful first few weeks and months in the job, so you can confidently hire and grow your team no matter where they are.
Visit our Modern Workplace Transformation page for more on our capabilities and offerings.