How To Effectively Onboard Your Pandemic Hires

During the early days of the pandemic, companies were primarily focused on simply surviving. For many, this required adapting their business model, even potentially shifting the whole focus and trajectory of their business to suit this new world that we’re all currently trying to navigate. To address these changes, many companies found themselves expanding their ranks and hiring folks for a variety of new roles – some of which they’d never had reason to fill before.

Now, when you brought these new hires on board, we’re confident you gave them some kind of whittled-down version of your usual employee orientation process. Gone were all the deep discussions on company culture and vision and instead much of your effort was likely spent on getting them up to speed with your business’s IT systems and their to-do list. However, today we wanted to focus on the important topic of how to re-orient these workers as they prepare to make their big cubicle space debut!

Counter culture

The corporate culture that you enjoyed prior to the pandemic has likely undergone a huge transformation, due not only to the changes in the world but the changes in your business model. Now is not the time to assume that your more tenured employees can teach the younger ones about your business norms because they themselves may not be all that certain either! Instead, consider taking it back to basics and asking your more tenured employees to share where they think the company culture currently stands and what may need to be addressed in onboarding to help better acquaint new(er) hires to your business.

Reorient the orientees

As we touched on above, when you hired folks during the pandemic months, you likely cut back on your usual new-hire orientation. “Remote onboarding can be particularly difficult for people who are fairly new to the working world and transitioning from school to a job; they don’t get the opportunity to just see how work works,” notes Art Markman, author of Bring your Brain to Work, adding that “we learn how to navigate a workplace’s culture by watching other people and how they interact.” As such, you’ll need to remind them who they can get in touch with now that they are physically in the office for any issues that may arise, be it with payroll, benefits paperwork, IT systems, and maybe also remind them of point-people within their various departments to troubleshoot problems that may be more specific.

Give the grand tour

Again, when you did your remote on-boarding, there was really no need to discuss the actual geography of the office! Now that folks are heading inside, you’ll need to do the grand tour of the office and show your workers the lay of the land, including where they should park, where to grab a good cup of coffee, and which dry cleaner won’t over-starch your new work pants (since we’re all going to miss the days of sweatpants!) In the post-pandemic environment, now is also a great opportunity to talk about rules about community spaces, including expectations for how to maintain safe social distancing and cleanliness as it pertains to your Covid-19 rules.

Let’s stick together

The employees that you hired during the pandemic have a shared experience in that they all took one giant leap of faith and joined your company when the whole world likely felt like it was falling apart! Further, they’ve adapted to working mentally together – but physically distanced – and likely haven’t been given much opportunity to connect over it. As part of your onboarding, plan to bring these employees together.  Whether it’s an honorary first day lunch, a shared orientation experience, or simply a combined training day, make sure you include time for them to socialize and get to know each other, regardless of their rank or position in the company. Let their “newness” be the common tie that binds them.

More mentors

In addition to forging friendships with their peers, many new hires have also missed out on opportunities to meet, chat, and learn from more tenured employees in your company. Facilitate informal mentorship opportunities between new employees and veterans in their departments, but don’t shy away from more formal programs that seek to cross departments or experience levels. These mentorship offerings will prove particularly helpful to your younger new hires as this is their first foray into the working world and they are bound to need more guidance than your older “new hires.”