When employees first join a company, everything can sometimes feel overwhelming and unfamiliar. This is especially true for hybrid employees, whether they have experience working in a similar environment or not. It’s a whole new place, with unique experiences, and so for them, it’s an entirely new adventure.
That’s why your hybrid onboarding program needs to provide new employees with the right information, tools and support they need to thrive. By preparing your employees before they dive headfirst into work and ensuring that they’re aware of the people, resources and programs available to help them adjust to a hybrid work environment, you can set them up for success.
Here are five guidelines that will help your hybrid employee onboarding program truly serve and support your newest team members.
1. Proactively Reach Out to Answer FAQs About Your Hybrid Workplace Before Their First Day
Most employees never forget their first day on the job. It’s their first opportunity to make a good impression on their manager, bond with their team, and get to know the ins and outs of the organization. It’s also an important chance for the company to make a good impression on the new employee by making them feel properly informed, comfortable and welcomed.
This is especially the case for hybrid employees, who, in addition to the usual roster of FAQs, may have hybrid work related questions about their new day such as:
- Should I be on-site or can I work remotely during my onboarding period?
- When will my work computer arrive? Can I work on my home computer?
- When should I come to the office? Who will let me in? What are the health & safety rules and social restrictions we are observing at this time?
- When should I be online? Are we on a 9-5 p.m. schedule or are the hours more flexible?
- Who will be onboarding me? Will it be HR, my department head, or someone else?
- Do I need to bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result with me if I’m on-site? How do I submit it?
While it’s possible for them to email HR before their first day or ask team members on the day of, not knowing the answer to these questions and others they might have may make it harder for new employees to get accustomed to their new role on day one. Instead, proactively reach out to new employees and share answers to the most common FAQs employees have about your hybrid work environment before their first day. Better yet, set up a quick meeting to review your hybrid workplace FAQs and give them a chance to voice any lingering questions they might have about hybrid work.
Even if it’s just a quick email or check-in from HR or the hiring manager, making sure that new employees have a good idea of what to expect from your hybrid workplace on their first day will help them adjust faster to your work environment.
2. Break the Ice by Setting Up Meetings with Key Contacts in Their First Week
Unlike an on-site environment, hybrid employees often need to book virtual one-on-one meetings in order to connect with their peers. This can be intimidating for new employees, who are just getting to know their team and thus may not be comfortable with setting up meetings with key contacts just yet.
In order to help new employees build stronger relationships faster in a hybrid setting, ask hiring managers or team members to set up meetings on behalf of new employees to make it easier to introduce and familiarize themselves with key contacts in the organization.
Here are three key steps hiring managers can follow to accomplish this:
- Make a list of 3 or more contacts including fellow team members, department heads, and rising stars at the company that the new employee should reach out to. Provide a brief background on each person, and highlight what these contacts will bring to the table.
- Send out emails to these contacts explaining why they should meet your new employee and what they are looking forward to learning from them. This will break the ice for your new employee, making it easier for them to personally follow-up, set-up and attend the meeting.
- Encourage new employees to set up informal weekly, bi-weekly or monthly syncs with contacts they feel would be most beneficial to their role. Remind new employees to be mindful of everyone’s bandwidth as well as their own, so they can balance their day with meetings and set time aside for their other work as well.
While it may seem like a small gesture, helping new employees to kickstart their internal networking opportunities will go a long way towards helping them thrive. It makes it easier for new employees to create valuable relationships with coworkers that will help them fulfill their roles and grow professionally in a hybrid environment. As there are fewer organic and informal ways to connect with others than there are in a traditional on-site environment, this is an important step in helping new employees feel like a part of their corporate community.
3. Provide Every New Employee with an Onboarding Buddy
In a hybrid environment, a major challenge for new hires is feeling connected to their colleagues, teammates, and the rest of the company. Everyone might belong to a different office, time zone, project, and so on, making it more difficult for new employees to form stronger bonds with their colleagues.
When everyone was at the office, this happened more naturally. People talked to one another around water coolers, lunchrooms, or even casual Fridays. Many of those avenues no longer exist, and yet employees still need to build strong relationships with one another. This is even more important for new hires who may want to confide in an employee about their personal struggles in a hybrid workplace and get advice on how to adjust better.
An easy way to do this at scale, is to assign an onboarding buddy to every new employee. Here are a few things an onboarding buddy can provide to a new employee to help them acclimate to their new hybrid workplace:
- Share their own experiences when they were new to a hybrid workplace
- Talk about their own struggles with a hybrid environment and how they overcame it
- Provide an overall sense of how things get done and who does what
- Give an overview of the company culture, social activities and discussion channels
- Explain any unspoken assumptions as well as useful tips and tricks they've learned.
- Listen to the concerns and thoughts of new employees and offer positive support and feedback
- Introduce them to other teammates with who the new employee can connect, to expand their network
- Create a shadow schedule so the new employee can sit in on meetings and listen firsthand to discussions taking place with customers
An onboarding buddy is a key resource for asking informal questions about the company, or more specifically, queries they don’t feel comfortable talking to their bosses or HR about. When new hybrid employees feel that they have someone they can talk to and trust, they’re less likely to leave, and will often work harder to stay involved with your company instead.
4. Create Ongoing Opportunities for New Staff to Connect with their Corporate Community
Beyond their direct manager, team and onboarding buddy, it can be nice for new employees to meet others in the same boat as well as employees outside of their department in fun, collaborative settings. This gives them a chance to build friendships with people they would not otherwise meet at work and as a result, become more socially fulfilled in a hybrid workplace.
Here are a few examples on how to orchestrate this for your new employees in a hybrid environment:
- Interest Groups: Give hybrid employees a place to engage in their passions and post to their community. This includes things like cooking, pets and hobbies like reading or exercising. New employees can thus find like-minded individuals who share their interests.
- Virtual Games: Use online games like Jackbox to bring coworkers together online for games. It’s a fun way for hybrid employees to enjoy each other’s company in a virtual environment and allow new employees to do the same.
- Breakout Rooms: Many video conferencing applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have built-in breakout rooms that allow large groups to be automatically sorted into smaller meetings with 4-5 people. This is a great way for new employees to meet peers they haven’t spoken to before.
- Collaborative Content: Actively encourage and promote employee-created content, such as a podcast, video, or blog series, within your company. Create challenges, endorse company-friendly content and allow new employees to work together with their peers and promote their creations within your intranet, Slack or other internal channels.
5. Collect Feedback About Your Hybrid Employee Onboarding Process
By giving employees a chance to weigh in and offer commentary, you allow them to feel heard. Critically analyze what they have to say about your onboarding process, and make an effort to identify and implement good feedback. This ensures your hybrid employee onboarding program will continue to get better over time.
Here are three key questions to ask your hybrid employees about their onboarding:
- How would you rate your onboarding experience? Is there anything you would change? What would you add to make it better for future employees?
- How are you finding our hybrid workplace? What do you like about it and what do you think needs improvement?
- What do you value most or find most helpful as a hybrid employee? Is there anything we can provide to make our hybrid office more engaging?
Use this information to improve, evolve, and grow. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to onboarding, and that applies to hybrid work environments as well.
Preparing the Hybrid Workforce
When you look at the bigger picture, onboarding hybrid employees is not that different from bringing on traditional on-site employees. You’re still welcoming them to the team, introducing them to their peers, and supporting them in any way you can. There are just extra considerations to keep in mind when doing so in a hybrid environment.
Here’s a quick summary of our five guidelines for your hybrid employee onboarding process:
- Share common FAQs about your hybrid workplace with new employees before their first day
- Have hiring or HR managers schedule meetings on behalf of new employees to kickstart their internal networking
- Assign an onboarding buddy to every new employee
- Invite new employees to connect with peers outside their departments in fun, collaborative settings
- Collect feedback from new employees about the onboarding process and use the information to improve the program
A strong onboarding process often leads to a long, successful tenure for new employees. Use the guidelines above to augment and improve your onboarding process to foster a great experience for new employees in your hybrid workplace.
Want a better view of what the day-to-day looks like for your hybrid employees? See our infographic.
Talk to us today if you’d like to learn more about our hybrid workplace solutions.