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3 ways to maintain an effective onboarding process during COVID-19

August 30, 2021

For today’s organizations, onboarding is an avenue to introduce company values and norms to incoming talent. (sanjeri/Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered many facets of the Canadian workplace, all the way down to the onboarding experience of new recruits.

The process — which serves to give new hires the tools needed to become a productive team member — is typically the last stage of the recruitment process and first step towards employee retention and integration into company culture.

Employers have one chance to make an excellent first impression, and onboarding provides the opportunity, said Donna Koop, executive HR relationship manager with ADP Canada.

“The onboarding process doesn’t start and end on an employee’s first day,” she said. “It’s dynamic — beginning in the recruitment phase and lasting far beyond the employee’s early months.”

Importance of onboarding experience

For today’s organizations, onboarding is an avenue to introduce company values and norms to incoming talent.

The process provides new employees with tools and information needed to become a productive team member, including setting expectations, responsibilities and objectives for their specific role, and checking in regularly to ensure they have the resources required to meet them.

Through onboarding, new hires are introduced to various departments and team members. Mentors can also be provided during this process to guide incoming staff through the initial process, and beyond.

Pandemic effect on onboarding

Restrictions as a result of the spread of novel coronavirus have resulted in a revamp of onboarding processes for many organizations, according to Koop.

“In many instances, employers changed their entire onboarding process to serve an entirely new group of employees — remote employees,” she said.

“As we look forward, many employers are likely to adapt a hybrid onboarding process, which will include both in-person and remote employee onboarding practices, and will be customized for each employee.”

Three ways to maintain an effective process

Customization: This is far and away the most important feature of an effective onboarding program, said Koop.

“An effective onboarding process should be customized for each employee, allowing managers to focus on individual strengths and shortcomings,” she said.

“It should demonstrate from the outset that the organization and the manager are there to support the employee and develop a sound set of employee expectations and deliverables.”

Regular feedback: A good onboarding process thrives on feedback. Discussions that elicit ongoing feedback can range from one-on-one sessions to anonymous, online qualitative surveys.

Both methods provide valuable insights for employers and their new employees, according to Koop.

“I can’t think of anything worse than handing an employee a manual, sending them off on their own and expecting them to figure everything out by themselves,” she said.

Team approach: Finally, onboarding should not be limited to the HR department.

It involves the new employee’s peers, supervisors, managers and representatives of various departments of the company.

Webinar: Employee Onboarding

An ineffective onboarding process and strategy can trickle down throughout an organization, including struggles with employee retention.

“Ineffective onboarding will also cost an employer in a number of ways — from the loss of exceptionally talented people to the hefty price tag it will take to replace them,” said Koop.

“It can also impact the organization’s reputation,” she said, especially if an employee was promised perks and a corporate culture that they fail to experience.

“They are highly likely to share that experience with others, either in-person or online, and this can impact the way others view the organization.”

On Sept. 29, Koop will present more on this topic during a free webinar sponsored by ADP Canada. Register today and learn more about building engagement, strengthening retention and enjoying bottom-line benefits as a result of a solid onboarding process.

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