The Covid-19 pandemic drastically changed the working pattern all over the globe. With social distancing and lockdowns in place, a large number of organisations transitioned to telecommuting with some even increasing their hiring to meet the expanding business demands. This greatly affected their onboarding process, making the training and induction modalities rather complicated.
Integrating new employees into the company isn’t easy. And when one is largely functioning on remote working, it makes it even more challenging.
Let us look at the 5 major challenges with the onboarding process during the pandemic-
1) Inability to personalise the process-
Induction helps in integrating a new employee into the company’s culture while instructing them about their own roles and responsibilities within the organisation’s structure and functioning. It facilitates in establishing personal connections and a great working relationship among colleagues.
However, in the absence of a face-to-face interaction, it becomes difficult to personalise the onboarding process. Instead of meeting the team and getting to know them in an informal and relaxed setting, the new employees would have to contend with a video call or even in some cases, an email message. This proves challenging in building a strong lasting working relationship among peers.
2) Ineffective Communication-
Effective onboarding is crucial for employee engagement, retention and for boosting the overall productivity of the organisation. With telecommuting, it may not be possible at times to know everyone in the team and the new employees may get confused about whom to approach for clarifying or obtaining certain information. They may also be unaware about the hierarchy within the organisation or may feel reluctant to ask questions.
On-site Induction allows the new members to get to know their colleagues and establish a cordial relation with them, which allows them to approach their peers for help or clarification regarding a particular situation. In the absence of this relationship, the employees may hesitate to reach out to others which leads to communication gaps.
Also, without facial expression, gestures or tone of a person’s voice as a guide, it is often easy to misinterpret a message as critical or curt when it comes through the email. This, further hampers effective communication, which in turn greatly affects the overall productivity of the organisation.
3) Ineffective employee engagement-
Onboarding is crucial as it introduces the new employee to the company’s business culture and value systems. They also understand the code of conduct essential to every member and learn to build a good working rapport with their colleagues, other senior managers and the organisation’s leaders.
This may be very difficult to communicate through a virtual induction program and may result in many employees feeling unwelcome or unable to identify and integrate themselves with the company’s culture. This greatly affects their participation and engagement with the organisation and leads to lower employee retention.
4) Inability to monitor employee performance-
Monitoring the employee’s performance and progress is an important step in integrating them into the company’s work ethics and culture. Feedback is important as it clarifies assumptions and expectations, helps people improve and learn from their mistakes and builds confidence. Constructive feedback also helps in reinforcing positive behaviour and generating a strong work culture. It is therefore essential that the new employee’s progress be monitored and reviewed.
This however, becomes challenging in a remote working scenario. Not only is there a disadvantage of physical distance, but even the process for documenting and monitoring the employees’ performance may be unclear or not adequately defined. As a result, they may underperform or fail to achieve the targeted milestone. This would not only affect the individual’s growth but also the company’s progress at large.
5) Unavailability of essential equipment-
Digitization of modern business has made it impossible to function well without appropriate technology. Most new employees are provided with their own laptop and other essential software, tools and programs that are necessary for their work. This particularly becomes challenging during the pandemic, especially if the employee has to be trained to use a particular software or program. Some organisations may also find it difficult to reevaluate their employment benefit schemes to make it relevant to the current situation.
These are the 5 major challenges with onboarding during the pandemic. They can however, be overcome by making the necessary changes to the Induction program and leveraging mobile technology to make the process more engaging, interactive and effective.