A lot has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began quickly spreading across the world. People put an increased focus on their health, wellness, and work-life balance. Remote work became more prevalent. Unemployment soared, and voluntary quits dropped. The world of work as we knew it will never quite be the same again.

Our ‘next normal’ is shaping up to include a highly competitive talent landscape. Employers are calling back furloughed team members and focusing on growth again, as job openings surge. In the meantime, 26 percent of workers are planning to quit their jobs this year in what’s being dubbed ‘The Great Resignation.’ 

We’re expecting to see a lot of movement, and a great employee onboarding experience can contribute to smoother transitions and better outcomes. Here are some tips for effectively onboarding new hires in this ‘next normal.’

1. Begin with employee preboarding

The competition for talent will likely only increase as time goes on, and candidates will have many choices when it comes to where they want to work. You don’t want your new hire getting scooped up by another company between the time they accept your offer and officially start.

Employee preboarding can help mitigate this risk. Kick off this process as soon as your candidate accepts your offer by sending a welcome email and sharing some next steps. You may also choose to share some engaging new hire videos or allow your new hire to begin selecting benefits and getting to know their fellow team members.

Continue the onboarding process for at least 90 days, as new hires get fully ramped.

2. Include a professional development plan

The number one reason people change jobs is career growth opportunities, and 93 percent of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. 

Create a professional development plan as part of your onboarding process to show new team members what their futures could look like at your organization. Discussions around professional development should include each team member’s career goals, potential career paths, and opportunities for development. This practice can aid in early—and long term—employee engagement and retention.

3. Focus on inclusion and belonging

Nearly two-thirds of candidates (64 percent) say that diversity and inclusion is an important factor in their decision to accept a job offer. Weave diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into everything you do—including onboarding. 

For instance, ask new hires for their preferred names and pronouns, connect them to employee resource groups, and host an onboarding session around the importance of DEI. This can help all team members feel a sense of belonging at your organization from the start, enabling them to bring their authentic selves to work.

4. Develop unique onboarding workflows for various scenarios

Your employee onboarding process may need to vary by team member location, remote status, or lifecycle stage. For instance, a team member in Canada will have different employment forms to complete than a team member in the United States. A remote team member might need equipment sent to them, while an in-office team member might need a desk set up for them. And a furloughed or recently promoted team member may benefit from an abbreviated onboarding process to get them up to speed without being redundant.

A documented, streamlined process for each scenario can help you onboard, re-board, or cross-board your team members efficiently and quickly, ensuring you provide a stellar new hire experience every time.

5. Update your policies

Your HR policies may have been changed, clarified, or drafted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you update them in your employee onboarding process so each team member has the most up-to-date information. This might include your remote work policy, sick policy, and COVID risk mitigation policy.

For instance, a formal remote work policy might outline eligibility security protocols, childcare expectations, and equipment reimbursement procedure and limits. Updated policies ensure that expectations are set, and agreed to, from the get-go.

6. Collect team member feedback

Successfully navigating the ‘next normal’ will likely have a learning curve, as this is largely new territory. Collect team member feedback to learn what you’re doing well, and where you might improve. You can do this through new hire surveys, informal feedback from managers, and online employer review sites.

Use that feedback to continually improve your onboarding process and early employee experience.

Final thoughts on onboarding new hires in the ‘next normal’

A great employee onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent. On the flip side, a negative onboarding experience results in new hires being twice as likely to look for other opportunities. Adapt your new hire onboarding process to fit our ‘new normal,’ so you can hold on to the talent you’ve worked so hard to recruit in the increasingly competitive talent market.


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6 Tips for Onboarding New Hires in This ‘Next Normal’