It’s hard enough to find a qualified new employee in the midst of a pandemic, but once it does, making the person feel like a member of the team can be especially difficult.
Human contact is still not safe. The days of office parties and after-work drinks at the local bar are long gone. And training without practical time is difficult. But just as technology creates new standards for communication between offices, human resources departments are finding innovative ways to welcome new employees.
“The challenge is to build these personal relationships, these working relationships that develop a connection and a rapport with your colleagues,” explains Julie Schweber, Senior HR Knowledge Advisor at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). “It’s definitely more difficult.”
Bringing a new worker into a business presents virtually unique challenges. It can be more difficult to convey the culture of the company. New hires are more reluctant to say they don’t understand their responsibilities or are reluctant to ask how to perform certain tasks through Zoom against in person. And there can be productivity gaps, where the worker doesn’t know what to do next, without a formal plan in place.
However, there are ways to facilitate virtual integration.
First, it’s more important than ever for new workers to have a mentor or guide during their first few weeks. Matching recent hires with a current employee helps them become familiar with the ins and outs of an organization. It is important, Schweber notes, that this mentor / guide is not someone who would be a supervisor or supervisor. New workers need to be able to ask questions they might be too shy to ask their boss.
This not only helps people acclimatize to work, but it could also keep them there longer.
“We all love that connection to work,” she says. “Relationships with co-workers have proven to be one of the main tools in employee retention. Some employees don’t want to leave because they love their coworkers so much. “
That’s not to say managers should stay aloof, however. Regular, one-on-one conference calls or phone checks are essential to make the employee feel like part of the team and to ensure that the person does not encounter any obstacles.
“It sends the message, ‘We are here to support you and we want you to be successful,’” says Schweber.
Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx and other conferencing tools, along with well-known desktop chat programs like Slack, are the primary devices most businesses use to onboard their employees, but some workplaces are taking a more creative approach. .
Chobani, for example, has incorporated Augmented Reality (AR) into their toolset to help with start-up training, as well as to allow a group of people to help with maintenance and repair, with just one. physically dealing with the problem.
Plant workers wear a headset that allows one or more remote people to see and communicate with on-site workers. And, as an added bonus, it not only reduces the risk of the spread of COVID, but also costs.
“When someone is in training, it’s usually Group A or Group B that comes to see the other to follow,” says Hugh Roddy, vice president of global engineering and project management at Chobani. “With augmented reality, group A and group B can stay in their own location. From a cost perspective, it’s out of this world. This allows us to bring remote people into a facility and interact with them.
Other companies including Walmart and UPS, have long integrated virtual reality into their training programs. (Walmart’s programs range from training associates on day-to-day tasks to handling crisis events in a store. UPS uses HTC Vive VR headsets to help drivers spot potential dangers when they are “driving” on a vehicle. virtual route.)
In the long run, these AR integration and education tools could provide an additional benefit to businesses. Since the presentations are done via video, Chobani records them and assembles a library that workers can use for refresher courses or to learn new skills.
Right now this is largely limited to engineering / product management departments, but Roddy says he expects the practice to grow company-wide within months. to come up. “I see all of the major departments in the business building their own content libraries, whether they’re testing or demonstrating.”
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