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Overhauling employee onboarding with an intranet

Onboarding is a pivotal moment in the employee lifecycle that decides who will sink and who will swim. With hybrid working adding another layer of complexity to the process, we’re dedicating episode 10 of the Unily podcast to uncovering what it takes to get onboarding right in the remote age.

Revamping onboarding in the hybrid era with an intranet

Even before workplace dispersion, many enterprises struggled to successfully get new employees up to speed. In fact, only 12% of workers strongly believe that their organization excels at onboarding.

Hybrid working has simultaneously made successful onboarding more challenging and more crucial than ever before. With 40% of employees contemplating a job switch in 2021, every enterprise is going to be vying for top talent. The secret to retaining employees is setting them up for success from the start, which is why positive onboarding experiences are linked with an 82% improvement in retention.

There’s no doubt about the importance of onboarding, but there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding what it takes to make recent joiners feel welcomed in the hybrid age. Is it even possible to fully integrate new team members without bringing them into the physical office? To answer this question, we’ve brought Kaitlin, Kaz, Matt, Alex, and Glen together for a discussion about achieving onboarding success in the new world of work.

Woman participating in remote onboarding process

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5 tips for upgrading your onboarding experience with an intranet

The good news? Our podcast stars agree that successful remote onboarding is well within reach. However, it’s going to take next-generation technology, a strategic approach, and an added emphasis on culture. Some of their top tips for mastering onboarding with intranet software include:

#1. Get ahead of the game with pre-boarding

If your onboarding process begins on your new hire’s start date, you’re already behind. Take advantage of the weeks leading up to day 1 as an opportunity to begin introducing your newest team member to your organization.

Consider creating a portal that is specifically designed for pre-boarding, which can centralize training materials and enable new hires to get familiar with their work before they even start. Here at Unily, Product Manager Kaz Hassan describes his own positive experience with pre-boarding and what he gained from getting a sneak preview of the work he would be doing.

"Before I technically joined, I was invited into Universe, Unily’s customer platform. I remember scrolling through the conversations and seeing suggestions people had. That was super insightful for me because there’s only so much you can be directly trained on, but I could start soaking in the challenges people were having, before I even started."

Kaz Hassan

#2. Go the extra mile for your remote hires

There’s no denying that some onboarding challenges are unique to hybrid working. Back in the office, it was easy to walk around, make introductions, and even spark up informal conversations that helped new joiners feel welcomed.

These opportunities won’t be as readily available to remote new hires, which is why managers must make a concentrated effort to build camaraderie amongst team members. As Product Evangelist Matt Boyd notes, it’s the culture element of remote onboarding that is often the most challenging.

"It’s the cultural bit that you’re going to have to put the focus on. It’s the cultural piece that requires that little bit of extra love and care."

Matt Boyd

Rather than keeping the same onboarding process in place for remote hires, leaders might need to think outside of the box to recreate that cultural component virtually. Whether that’s a weekly team meeting that provides ample time for friendly conversation or themed introduction events like a morning Tea and Toast, it’s important to make the effort to invite new joiners into your company culture, as Senior Consultant Alex Gabelli notes.

"You’ve gone through a lot of trouble to bring that new person in and you’re going to have to make an extra effort to onboard them digitally or remotely."

Alex Gabelli

#3. Aim to show, not tell

Just like people don’t learn to drive a car by reading a book on it, your employees aren’t going to be able to pick up certain processes without watching them in action and trying them for themselves. While training resources are necessary, Senior Vice President Glen Chambers emphasizes the importance of letting new hires see how it’s done.

"Whether it’s in person or sitting in a call, it’s easy to shadow colleagues and pick up how people work, their different styles, and ask any questions. Employees will learn by doing and seeing what processes look like in action."

Glen Chambers

To give your new hire a behind-the-scenes view into the work they will be doing, consider pairing them with an onboarding buddy who performs a similar role. Let them shadow this person, ask them questions, and begin building a relationship with a teammate they will be working closely with.

#4. Set a strong foundation with your intranet

Employees are learning a lot during their first days on the job. Instead of searching across your digital workplace for training resources, org charts, and HR documents, make it easy for your new starters to access all the information they need in one place.
As Kaitlin Auriemma, Head of Presales North America, explains, your intranet can serve as the ideal platform to help new employees get their hands on the resources they need.

"When your new, you’re meeting a million people a day. You need to be able to take it all in and then reference back to something like a people directory within your intranet to learn more about who you’re meeting and the role they play within the business."

Kaitlin Auriemma

HR manager working with an employee

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#5. Don’t let new starters get overwhelmed

Part of nailing onboarding is striking the right balance. You want new hires to learn their role quickly so they can get up to speed, but you can’t overwhelm them with too much information at once.

How you find a happy medium? Many enterprises that excel at onboarding create targeted intranet homepages that are catered to new starters at various stages of their journey. A homepage for employees during their first week, for example, might focus on how to create their user profile and set up various systems. Over time, additional information is introduced gradually to avoid overwhelming employees, or, as Kaz calls it, drinking from a fire hose.

"You don’t want to your new starters to drink from a fire hose. There are administrative and upskilling aspects to onboarding and you want them teased in. You can use technology to gradually introduce those elements and avoid overwhelming your new starters."

Kaz Hassan

Take your employee onboarding to the next level

A positive onboarding experience that engages employees from their first days on the job will be a competitive advantage in the new world of work. You can learn more about upgrading your onboarding process by checking out the full podcast episode on Spotify or get in touch with our digital workplace experts to discover how a next-generation intranet can enhance your approach.

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