Hybrid work has quickly become the new norm. Economists predict that soon, 50% of the workforce will either work remotely or use a hybrid model and a recent study from Uprise estimates that 36.2 million Americans will work remotely by 2025.
A hybrid work environment also presents many benefits for mental health, work-life balance, and the environment. However, the rise of a hybrid model also means an increase in uncertainty around best practices for reshaping the “traditional” work landscape.
For many HR professionals, figuring out the right balance in a hybrid environment is one of their most pressing challenges. This is especially true when considering new hires; what does an effective employee onboarding process look like in a hybrid environment?
At its core, effective onboarding in a hybrid environment relies on a few key pieces; providing opportunities for asynchronous learning, offering flexibility in the training process, and regularly checking in with your new team members.
It's no secret that the onboarding experience in a hybrid environment is complex. But it doesn't have to be.
Here are 10 tips to consider when putting together your onboarding plan in a hybrid environment:
1. Foster connections with new hire cohorts and team building activities
Creating a sense of community is essential to seamless onboarding in a hybrid environment. In a “traditional” work environment, new hires can meet in person for lunch, spend time working together, and meet after work hours.
Make sure you give new remote employees in a hybrid environment the same opportunity to get to know one another by creating small groups of 5-7 team members each.
Create a schedule for planning fun virtual events(like virtual coffee breaks via Zoom) and organize slack channels for each group to use autonomously.
With Cooleaf, team leaders can host virtual challenges and events geared towards new hires and provide incentives for participation. For example, Cooleaf’s Welcome Challenge: Ready, Set, Go! allows new employees to explore Cooleaf’s platform and gain 125 reward points by completing a small checklist.
Find out how you can boost your remote team’s engagement with Cooleaf.
By creating a cohort, you provide an opportunity for this remote team of new hires to foster connections and friendships, which in turn will boost engagement and improve employee experience.
2. Gather employee feedback with pulse surveys to check-in with onboarding groups
Onboarding is a necessary process that helps new employees get acclimated to their new role, culture, and colleagues.
Many companies struggle with their remote onboarding strategy because they don't have an effective way to track employee feedback after being hired, trained, and placed into their first project/team.
Offering opportunities for feedback with pulse surveys is an effective way to check in with new hires and gauge satisfaction with the onboarding process.
If you're looking for a way to measure hybrid onboarding effectiveness, try using a pulse survey tool like Cooleaf. Cooleaf makes it easy for managers and HR leaders to deploy short incentivized surveys to onboarding teams at key intervals so you can check in with new employees during their first week and after a few months on the job.
Not only do we help companies conduct onboarding surveys based on specific goals, Cooleaf partners with companies to measure and analyze employee feedback data and help take quick action on employee feedback with strategic recommendations and programming.
3. Experience-based mentorship program
One of the best ways to ease new hires into their new positions is by implementing an employee mentorship program.
Mentorship programs are great ways to establish connections and relationships with people who care about you and want to see you succeed in your new position. It also allows the mentor to share their wisdom and experience, which can be invaluable as you navigate this new hybrid workplace environment.
4. Send out weekly check-in videos to go out to new hires
Onboarding can be a complex process for new hires, especially those working in hybrid environments.
This is because it's hard to maintain the level of communication and engagement needed to help people feel like they're an integrated part of the team.
One way to ensure that your new hires get all the information they need is by using weekly check-in videos. These videos should be sent out to everyone on your team every week, and they can include information about anything from upcoming projects to company culture.
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By creating these videos each week, you'll be able to provide valuable insights into what's happening within your organization while also making sure that no one is left behind or isolated at any given time during their first few weeks on the job.
To create these videos, you can use a video platform like Vidyard, Sendspark, or Loom!
5. Encourage employees to participate in Employee Resource Groups
Encourage your new hires to form their own ERGs or take part in existing ones! Providing new team members with resources to foster community and get comfortable in a new setting is one of the best ways to boost retention rates.
ERGs are an excellent way to let your new employees know they’re entering a work environment that will not only encourage them to be themselves but prioritize them doing so. These employee-led groups are one of the best ways to keep employees satisfied and healthy, after all, 90% of Fortune 500 companies have ERGS for a reason!
Are you working towards a culture of wellness? Our free employee wellbeing checklist is here to help!
6. Personalize onboarding materials for each new hire
Nothing says “welcome to the team” like personalized onboarding materials. Keeping each step of the process as personal as possible is an excellent way to ensure that each of your new hires feels embraced by their new hybrid work environment.
Though remote work has many perks, it’s been shown to lead to feelings of isolation. Regardless of how often your new employees will be working from their home office, it’s important to show them you’re always thinking of how they’re doing. Make sure they know how much they mean to your team from the beginning by tailoring onboarding materials to their unique personality.
Is your new hire an animal lover? Add a touch of personality to their onboarding package by including stickers or socks that showcase their love of furry friends. Does the person joining your team consider themselves a literary buff? Send them your favorite book or include bookmarks in their onboarding package.
It may sound silly, but every little bit goes a very long way in making sure new hires feel welcomed and appreciated in their new work home.
7. Always keep the 5 C’s of onboarding top of mind
It may sound juvenile, but the 5 C’s of successful onboarding have stood the test of time for a reason! The 5 C’s are:
These 5 components are critical for a powerful onboarding strategy, regardless of where you are! In a hybrid setting, they’re especially powerful because they help reinforce core values and employee purpose.
8. Make the first day an unforgettable experience!
We can’t emphasize this enough! 58% of organizations’ onboarding processes are paperwork and procedure, and while the administrative stuff is extremely important, this is no way to welcome folks to their new job.
The first day of a new job is your chance to make a lasting impact on your newest team members. Strike the right balance of fun and business by taking small opportunities to give your employees a first day they’ll always remember.
Whether they’re starting their new roles from home or in the office, plan a big lunch by either sending them an excellent meal or getting catering sent to the office. End the day on a positive note with a virtual or in-office champagne toast!
Whatever you decide, the key is to emphasize that the first day is a celebration of new beginnings and endless possibilities.
9. Schedule an entry interview with each new team member
An entry interview is an incredible way to get to know the new folks joining your organization! Whether you have 5 new hires or 15 new hires, giving them an entry interview is the perfect way to let them know how valued their opinion will be at your organization.
Establishing a strong relationship between leadership and new hires as early as possible is an excellent indicator of employee happiness overtime. The more avenues you open up for bottom-up communication, the more equipped you’ll be to create a culture of success.
10. Host a get-together strictly for new hires at the end of each week during onboarding
There’s a lot to be said about the power of creating community. This is especially important when bringing new faces into an established organization!
Creating space for your new hires to bond and decompress at the end of each week during the onboarding process is an excellent way to keep them feeling energized and give them space for bonding that isn’t work-related.
Depending on whether you’re in the office or virtual in a given week, host a virtual happy hour or an in-person meet-up for new hires. There’s one key - make sure your presence is as minimal or as maximal as the environment requires.
If your new team members are a little on the shy side, kick things off with games or trivia. If they’re a little chattier, give them the floor and keep things organic. The key is to be prepared for either outcome and roll with the flow from there.
A hybrid workplace is a novelty for many organizations, but newness doesn’t have to mean losing quality or efficiency! Virtual onboarding in a hybrid environment can offer new hires many benefits that a more traditional process lacks.
Flexibility, thinking outside of the box, a personalized learning process, and the ability to ask questions in a more efficient manner are all benefits presented by the hybrid work model.
By helping employees adjust more efficiently to their new work environment, companies can retain workers who are not only happy but are also successful in their roles. After all, onboarding is an investment of your company’s time and money, so it’s worth whatever effort is necessary to ensure a successful process.