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How to Improve the Employee Onboarding Process

  • Working remotely, in a hybrid setting, or simply finding any job in this new climate isn’t an easy process for all. 
  • One of the most crucial components contributing to the success of any given worker is an adequate onboarding process.
  • Due to the popularity of remote working, the onboarding process has had to take place completely online – creating a learning barrier for many workers.

The world of work has changed considerably over the past two years; remote and hybrid work have become the norm.

Working remotely, in a hybrid setting, or simply finding any job in this new climate isn’t an easy process for all. Many young workers, in fact, found their first jobs during the pandemic, and what they report of their experiences isn’t always encouraging.

Some remote workers, for instance, have reported disaffection with the non-social aspects of remote working, as well as the overly-hands-off methods of onboarding. 

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This state of affairs is not sustainable. On one hand, the non-social aspects of remote work have been repeatedly reported as contributing to burnout and declines in personal well-being. And on the other, one of the most crucial components contributing to the success of any given worker is an adequate onboarding process.

Onboarding requires not only that the worker learns the crucial skills to excel at their job, and by extension, their career. It also requires that the worker learns soft social skills in the workplace. In fact, if soft skills are not learned, the ability for workers to maximize their potential for developing hard skills will also be diminished.

Remote work: social barriers and Gen Z workers 

As it stands, almost an entire generation of workers – that is, Gen Z workers – are extremely familiar with the internet. It almost makes perfect sense, then, that remote workers largely consist of those in Gen Z. 

Gen Z remote workers report that the onboarding process for their remote positions – which, for many Gen Zers, is their first ever job – has lacked some crucial developmental elements. 

Of course, being new in a role, you’re not going to know what to do in numerous respects. When you’re in person, you can simply turn to your manager or coworker to ask for assistance. Online, however, things are quite different. 

For many remote positions, there is no in-person contact between employee, employer, and coworkers. And according to Gen-Z workers who are new to the world of work, this has created a social barrier that makes communicating their needs much more of a challenge. This even extends to Zoom meetings, where much of the time, most people in the meeting have their cameras off.

Some Gen Z workers believe that they are missing out on crucial moments for improving their career development because of the barriers remote work presents. Directly, this mainly has to do with soft skills, but indirectly, this will impact hard skills. Asking your manager or senior for advice or guidance is absolutely crucial for gaining hard skills.

The imperative to help improve these soft skills is quite clear, but it is also clear that this must be done in a manner that does not nullify remote work as a modality. Not only is remote work here to say, but roughly 73 percent of workers hope it stays long after the pandemic is gone. 

How to improve remote onboarding

1. Hybrid work

There are various methods of onboarding, and even modifying the remote work model in general, that can help to resolve this dilemma, encouraging the soft skill development of new employees, while simultaneously retaining the remote work platform. One such method is the hybrid work model.

Hybrid work is something Gen Z workers themselves demonstrate clear interest in. When surveyed, Gen Z workers are most likely to apply to a job that is hybrid, as opposed to an exclusively remote job, or an exclusively in-person position. 

The hybrid work model is perfect for retaining the remote element of work, while simultaneously providing an intermittent setting where new workers can inherently develop soft skills. Simply by being in an office anywhere from one to three times a week can make an enormous impact on the social skills required for long-term career development. 

2. Remote-only jobs

But what about jobs that are exclusively remote? How can onboarding for these jobs be improved? Not only that, but how can the soft skills which are being lost through remote work, become facilitated beyond the onboarding process? 

3. Employee Handbook

An employee handbook will not by itself provide new workers with soft skill development. However, if crafted carefully, it can provide them with the information they need to develop the hard skills required for long-term success. 

An employee handbook should be curated across time, where changes are made based on feedback from employees and results of its usage. This way, problems that may have arisen with earlier new workers will not arise with new workers who are being onboarded. 

4. Check-ups

Semi-frequent one-on-one meetings with managers or senior employees is one easy strategy. These could be as simple as checking up on your new employees, and surveying them on points where they need assistance or clarification with respect to their new roles. 

During these check-ups, you can also lay out goals for the new worker to meet. Follow-up meetings when these goals have been or not been met is also a great way to facilitate the onboarding process through proper socialization. 

With such check-ups, the relationship between the new worker and their senior should be akin to something like a student and their teacher. Having a mentor guide you through your new workplace can make a profoundly positive impact on your apprehension of soft skills, hard skills, and company culture. 

5. Informal meetings and get-togethers 

It can be hard to facilitate a context of belonging online, but it is possible. And this needn’t be through exclusively work-related methods. Online gaming, for instance, is a way to bring people together from across the world to socialize and have a good time. 

Likewise, collaborative learning is another way this can be facilitated. Collaborative learning can consist of meetings which are, on the one hand, relaxed, but on the other, related to work. For instance, having a weekly meeting to just share creative ideas and build upon them through dialogue is killing two birds with one stone on hard and soft skill development. 

Remote work is here to stay, but in order for it to sustain itself as an attractive model for working, onboarding needs to be improved. With a whole new generation of workers entering the workforce under remote conditions, facilitating career development for said workers needn’t be a massive undertaking. 

By making an effort to mentor new workers and through encouraging active collaboration, along with informal social events, the soft and hard skills required for long-term career development can be initiated, quelling the worries of many Gen Z workers. 


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