Last updated: 03.04.23

Onboarding In The Hybrid World

7 strategies to improve your onboarding process for hybrid workers

The onboarding process can be a difficult one for both workers and employers. In fact, just 29% of new hires feel fully prepared and supported in their new role after being onboarded1.

With more than 30% of full-time UK employees now working a hybrid schedule2, many HR departments have been tasked with overhauling their onboarding strategies to address new ways of working in a post-pandemic world.

As we settle into this new era, the way employees onboard must evolve along with every other aspect of how employees work, communicate, and collaborate. In this article, we will discuss 7 strategies to improve your onboarding process for hybrid workers.

Why is an effective onboarding process for hybrid workers so important? 

In order to stand out in a market where many key skills are in short supply, employers must do everything they can to attract, engage and retain top talent. Studies suggest that new starters who experience a positive onboarding process are likely to be 18 times more committed to their employer, increasing staff retention by 82%3 — a clear indicator that an organisation’s onboarding strategy should not be overlooked.

An effective onboarding process should engage employees, helping them acclimate to their new role, the company’s philosophies, and everything else the company has to offer whilst also providing them with all the learning and tools they need to succeed in their role.

How to successfully onboard hybrid workers

While the benefits of hybrid working are clear for many businesses, onboarding staff into a hybrid work model isn’t without its challenges. In fact, more than a third (36%) of HR Managers felt that remote or hybrid onboarding made it hard to provide effective, role-specific training for new starters4.

However, as hybrid working becomes more commonplace across the UK, many organisations are finding new ways to improve their process for onboarding hybrid workers, including: 

Starting the onboarding process before the employee’s first day 

Despite an organisation’s best efforts, an employee’s first day can often feel overwhelming. With new systems to learn, people to meet, and administrative tasks to complete, new hires are expected to navigate their way through lots of new information and processes. 

It is therefore important to implement a preboarding period that begins from the moment a new employee signs their contract. This period is one of the first experiences an employee will have with your organisation and can be used as a window to introduce new hires to your company culture whilst laying a solid foundation for engagement. 

Thinking beyond the first 30 days

Beyond onboarding, employees need a tailored process to support success in their new roles. For example, onboarding a new salesperson will require a different set of activities to onboarding a senior finance partner — a fact some businesses overlook when executing their onboarding processes for hybrid workers.

By enabling departments and managers to create tailored plans, the onboarding experience can transition into a best-practice opportunity for upskilling and ongoing development that extends far beyond the first 30 days. When executed correctly, organisations can deliver bespoke programmes that enable them to deliver training, monitor each employee’s progress, and schedule events with colleagues that will keep new hires engaged, whether they are in the office or working from home.

For more information and practical guidance on how you can support the ongoing development of your new employees, read our article on how to better upskill your staff with digital training, or contact a member of our team.

Connecting people

The most effective HR teams set up new employees on their communications platforms before they join the company. With 42% of hybrid and remote workers experiencing difficulty forming new working relationships5, this process allows new hires to meet their teammates and build relationships before they begin their new role, helping improve engagement and making the onboarding experience smoother for all parties.

Clarifying the setup process

It is important to keep new hires in the loop throughout the onboarding process, but some managers often forget to discuss the setup process. Be sure to explain what equipment will be sent and when to expect it — and most importantly, what to do with it. Many new starters benefit from understanding what logins are being created, when they will be activated, and any other actions they might need to take, such as downloading software or connecting with a VPN.

Employing asynchronous learning

Onboarding in a hybrid work environment is different to onboarding in person, so it is important that new hires receive training that reflects this. The biggest mistake employers make is to try and replicate the in-person onboarding process online, over Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Unfortunately, this is rarely an effective onboarding practice — Zoom fatigue is a real issue. 

Instead, Human Resources (HR) and Learning & Development (L&D) teams should look for tools that allow asynchronous working and collaboration, and embed these into their onboarding process. Online courses, discussion forums and company wikis are invaluable tools that give new starters the freedom to complete tasks at their own pace, ask questions, and reflect on what they have learnt. This can help them feel more comfortable and confident when taking on a new role.

It is important to remember that learners forget 65% of new material within a week. With so much information to digest during the onboarding process, it is better to equip new starters with tools that allow them to access information when they need it while performing specific tasks. Ready-to-go online courses, videos and prerecorded webinars are a great way to achieve this and enable employees to learn at a pace that suits them.

For more information on how we can support asynchronous learning as part of your onboarding process, speak to a member of our team or access our suite of ready-to-go eLearning courses

Setting expectations

When working in a hybrid environment, it can be difficult for new starters to understand what is expected of them when working remotely. The onboarding process is the perfect time to set these expectations and introduce employees to your company culture. Whether you encourage employees to work flexible hours, require an ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi, or discourage the use of blurred virtual backgrounds, the onboarding process is the best time to discuss these with any new hires — their experiences with other employers could have been very different.

Collecting feedback and implementing change

It would be unreasonable to expect any HR department to get the onboarding process for hybrid workers right on the first try. In fact, as ways of working continue to change post-pandemic, many businesses understand the benefits of the ongoing implementation of feedback into their processes. Not only does this enable employers to adapt in times of rapid digitisation in the workplace, but also ensures the needs of new hires are being met. 

Because of this, the continuous process of learning and iteration should be built into your onboarding culture. Employee feedback taken at various stages of the onboarding process can prove to be an invaluable tool for many employers, as it provides real-time feedback and suggestions at each point in the onboarding journey. 

In an age when we have less face-to-face communication at work, this process can also be a great way to build relationships between employees and managers and help new starters feel valued.

Great onboarding experiences are important for new starters

Employee onboarding is one of the most important aspects of every organisation’s recruitment process. As businesses continue to adapt to a post-pandemic world, it is important for employers to engage new colleagues as early as possible, offering them ongoing collaboration opportunities, the ability to learn at their own pace, and the opportunity to provide feedback throughout the onboarding process.

Those that succeed in improving the onboarding process for hybrid workers could see improved operational efficiency, higher profits and happier employees. Those that don’t could see lower staff retention numbers, lower productivity, and a hit to their bottom line. 

For more tips on how to effectively onboard your hybrid workforce, read or article: Changing the onboarding process: the impact of COVID-19

Why Virtual College?

With 27 years’ experience, helping you translate your business requirements into learning is our specialism. We collaborate closely with you to: 

  • Get to the heart of your culture and your people and what matters to them 
  • Build impactful experiences designed around your learners 
  • Evolve your training programmes for the long-term by analysing impact and considering ever-changing business and people goals 

Speak to our team today to find out how we can help you support your new employees through a hybrid onboarding process.