The new normal: Onboarding new employees remotely

In a remote and hybrid workplace, it is critical to immerse your new starters into the culture and values of your organisation using technology to create human connections. Communicating at work in a more colloquial way, is one way to achieve that – sending gifs, reacting with emojis and creating ‘virtual watercooler’ moments, writes Meahan Callaghan, Chief People Officer, Afterpay

Companies across Australia are defining the new world of work. With the new hybrid workplace, with some back in the office and others continuing to embrace remote work, are still exploring what work looks like for them, their employees, and striving to establish a new set of guidelines and balance between the boardroom table and the dining room table.

For existing employees, the new world of work is being built on top of foundational knowledge of the company and their role. For newer team members, the absence of that foundation undoubtedly makes adopting a new way of working a challenge.

Defining the future of work, and the future of the traditional office environment – is going to be a further exercise in adaptability, adoption and reinvention, with the onus on leaders to ensure the effects of these changes are positive and take us to a better place.

Last month, employment in Australia increased by 0.7 per cent, which translated to 88,700 people finding jobs. This is a great signal that we are starting to see growth in the job market after an extended period of uncertainty. But as companies look to rebuild and reimagine the makeup of their workforce, what effect does all this have on new talent coming into the fold?

To ensure companies are able to attract, onboard and retain the people who are going to help grow their business over the long term, they must also look carefully at aspects of how they work and how they communicate.

In just six years, Afterpay has evolved from an Australian start-up to an ASX Top 20 company, which now operates in New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK, and Southern Europe. As business has grown, so has the need for talent. Much of our new team onboarding has been possible with collaboration tools like Slack, and we were awarded Australia’s Slack Spotlight Award for maximising the platform to virtually onboard 300 new members of staff in the last six months, while continuing to empower our 900 employees to connect, collaborate and work more efficiently across every department. Externally, Slack has been critical for us to collaborate with third parties and keep contact centres in Manila and Texas up to speed on company developments.

Technology is continuing to make a difference in our day to day work and is helping our new employees in a variety of ways.

Open Communication
Virtual communication is now at the centre of every stage of the employee life cycle. From an initial phone or video interview to secure a new role, right through to remote onboarding and day-to-day internal and external communication. For new starters it’s important that no matter where they work, they are able to communicate effectively and feel connected with their team and management almost instantly. Onboarding is all about asking questions, learning and exploring a new role. Having the right tools to do that ensures new employees feel supported and connected to their colleagues.

As we see teams divided between home and office, and the idea of the working day becomes more fluid, technology platforms like Slack and Zoom are key to ensuring employees not only have the tools they need, but that those tools are making their lives easier, rather than harder. According to a recent global study by Wakefield Research, 80 per cent of Australians said they are using collaboration platforms, like Slack, as their primary business communication tool, saving a total of 101 minutes a day by switching away from email.

Technology is continuing to make a difference in our day to day work and is helping our new employees in a variety of ways.

Accessible Information
More technology often means more apps for new starters to flick between. This doesn’t just take up more time, it’s often confusing to navigate for someone who is trying to absorb as much information as they can within their new role. Using collaboration software, and centralising information, means that new employees are able to access the information they need easily and save time in doing so.

Ongoing Training
Just as important as ensuring employees have the right tools is providing comprehensive training on those tools – not just when they start out, but along the way too. The phones in our pocket can be used to simply make calls, but they are also complex tools that when understood to full capacity offer a range of other functions to our lives. The same can be said for the collaboration platforms we use at work.

Virtual Watercooler
In a remote and hybrid workplace, it is critical to immerse your new starters into the culture and values of your organisation using technology to create human connections. Communicating at work in a more colloquial way, is one way to achieve that – sending gifs, reacting with emojis and creating ‘virtual watercooler’ moments. These are vital in ensuring new employees feel connected to their team, develop a sense of belonging within the company and build strong relationships with their colleagues at all levels. At Afterpay, we create Slack channels around our project initiatives where teams can be in contact with their leaders, celebrate and share wins, and provide in-the-moment support for one another.

The shift to remote work has been a major adjustment for all of us over the last year, and we’re never going back to the way we worked before. Defining the future of work, and the future of the traditional office environment – is going to be a further exercise in adaptability, adoption and reinvention, with the onus on leaders to ensure the effects of these changes are positive and take us to a better place.

Virtual communication is now at the centre of every stage of the employee life cycle. From an initial phone or video interview to secure a new role, right through to remote onboarding and day-to-day internal and external communication.

How to Hybrid Hire
As companies try to come to grips with how the hybrid work model will affect their current employees, the hiring cycle continues on. What should organisations do now to ensure they are able to secure, onboard and maintain the best talent.

  1. Ensure your company is using the right tools to make your employees’ lives easier, so they can work smarter, not harder.
  2. Train new hires (and existing employees) on how to best utilise the workplace tools they have at their fingertips.
  3. Ensure you are using collaborative technology that allows new team members to gain easy access to the information they need.
  4. Establish an ongoing open dialogue with new employees, especially if they are working remotely, to ensure they are able to question, explore, learn and grow in their new role.
  5. Create a sense of belonging to help new people settle into your business and feel part of the team through open communication and strong employee relations.

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