Even if it sometimes seems as if everything has been in shock rigidity for 15 months: Business life goes on. Companies and their staff continue to work, albeit under conditions that have changed significantly in some cases. And companies continue to hire. And these new employees have to be successfully integrated. But into what?
There are now many good overviews and advice for the smooth running of an induction phase: https://www.business-wissen.de/artikel/neue-mitarbeiter-wie-das-digitale-onboarding-gelingt.
The biggest challenge is certainly to convey the so-called ‘smell of the stable’.
Smell of the Stable
How is the vision lived? How is work done, promoted, rewarded? It is certainly very helpful to provide new employees with someone from the team who can introduce them to the corporate culture. However, there is a small catch: such team members know the company in a different form: the one with the personal meetings, the informal coffee drinking, the shared meals, the interactive personal innovation workshops.
Of course, there is now a lot of technical support for all activities. And of course we have become well accustomed to it by now. For the existing team, the memory of working together as it was before helps them to get through the changed situation. All the “new ones”, on the other hand, lack this important reference.
So how can we manage the balancing act of integrating new employees well without distorting the corporate culture, which is at least partly lived through personal togetherness? How can team members be helped to shape and sustain a temporary as well as a future culture?
Do new employees onboard into a car, a bus, a plane, a spaceship? What is the mutual interest in each other? It may well be that supervisors are currently seeking contact with their staff, but will reduce this again when presence will once more be possible. Newly hired employees who have come to know and appreciate the intensity of contact with superiors during the pandemic will then first be confused and perhaps even frustrated. And vice versa: if new colleagues feel left alone in the pandemic, they may quickly throw in the towel.
Another aspect is that of training. If this is made more intensive because of the pandemic, the impression can arise that this kind of support will also be given in normal business life. If there is no good induction, besides frustration for newly recruited team members, they may get the impression that they do not meet the requirements. Then a talented person is quickly dismissed during the probationary period because not enough work was done on integration.
Supervisors must not overlook the fact that the current way of working is an additional burden for many employees. Whereas in the past it was quite possible to take a mental break in meetings and look out the window to relax, today, due to the video connection, it is immediately visible if a participant is not fully focused on the task at hand. In addition, commuting times have been eliminated so that video conferences are scheduled ‘back-to-back’, one after the other. Sometimes there is not even time for a biological break.
When the additional task of training new staff is added to this, it often becomes too much for those involved. Then either the work or the on-boarding suffers.
Are there solutions here? Of course there are. It is important to plan time slots for the necessary appointments with each other and to withdraw employees who have been entrusted with the support of on-boarding from other projects. The better new staff are trained, the faster new responsibilities can be taken on and colleagues can be relieved.
If you ask me for three things to consider – here they are:
- Accurately describing and communicating the culture in ‘normal’ times
- Accurate description and mediation of culture in corona times
- Explicit time off for everyone involved to have a quality induction.
If you are interested in being supported in describing culture: I stand ready!