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Onboarding in the NEW Normal....

In this blog series, we continue to explore considerations for the NEW, new normal emerging in the months and year ahead.

In our last post, we looked at how some leaders and companies have jumped to the conclusion that they need to be in-person for their culture, ignoring the fact that they had designed and defined their culture to be in-person….and they could design it to be remote-first going forward. In fact, companies really should be defining their values and behaviors remote-first as we head into the NEW, new normal.

We are going to continue our discussion about designing work experiences, narrowing in our focus to onboarding.


Everything we said in our last blog post about the culture and overall work experience applies to Onboarding. Let’s dig a bit deeper into onboarding.

I recently got an iPhone 11 in December. All virtually. They sent me my new phone. They sent me instructions for the set-up of the new iphone. They sent me a box to trade in my old iPhone with instructions about how to wipe. They provided access to online chat, videos, FAQs, online forums with super users, and more to support me. It was a great, seamless experience. I had a question I posted in the online forum, with the response within minutes which proved to be just what I needed.

I onboarded with an association in November. Upon joining, they immediately sent me an email. They scheduled a call with me. They invited me to a virtual breakfast with other new members and the new membership committee. They shared the resources that would be most helpful to newbies like myself. They shared a contact should I have any difficulties in setting up my profile. They instantly connected me to 3 experienced members to talk to. They sent me a welcome gift. It is not exaggeration to say that my onboarding …my REMOTE onboarding…to this association was better than most companies do in onboarding their new employees.

If Apple can onboard me to my new phone….why can’t a company or team do the same? If this association can provide such an awesome onboarding experience remotely, why can’t a company or team do this?

The truth is, they can.

Ten years ago, I figured out a way to do this when technology was not where it is today when I led a global, remote team. If I could do it 10 years ago, we can certainly do it today. And that is exactly some of the work I’m doing with clients….to design their onboarding experience to be remote-first.

And you want to know the truth? The truth is that in many cases, what we are designing is better and more consistent of an onboarding experience than they had before, in-person, where it was really up to an over-extended, overbooked manager whether someone had a good experience or not.

So, much like culture, are you going to continue to require a desktop experience, have it always be wonky remotely, and then blame onboarding for why you have to be in person?

And, as a result, not have access to the best talent because you have limited yourself to those who live and are willing to travel within a physical proximity? Thus limiting your opportunity for growth?

Seems a bit foolish to me.

If Apple can do it, if a local association can do it… me, you can provide an exceptional remote-first onboarding experience, too!


Let’s also discuss engagement.

First, let me say, engagement is so much more than the latest, coolest virtual happy hour idea. Or even the most fun in-person activity. I have webinars and blog posts that dive into this more, so we’ll skip going further into this “throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping for engagement” approach today.

Here is what I will say about employee engagement: The overall levels of engagement, nationwide, are the same as they were pre-pandemic. And engagement numbers have essentially remained static for the last 20 years. So clearly, it is NOT about whether you are in person or remote…pre-pandemic or post-pandemic…that is having ANY meaningful impact on engagement.

You want to know when engagement was at its highest levels EVER seen in the US? The first quarter of COVID in April, May and June. When employers were, for the most part, demonstrating they cared about their employees, prioritizing employee safety and security and over-communicating.

It isn’t rocket science that when employees were authentically feeling and experiencing being cared for, they were more engaged.

So one of the questions I ask my clients: How do you have your employees experience being authentically valued as part of your company…. particularly in the NEW, new normal?

Last, but not least…I want to talk about engagement by employee population. This raises a lot of questions about the impact of the work experience on engagement. For remote vs non-remote. Schedule flexibility vs. not. And….at a heartbreaking level…women vs. men. All engagement is not equal. Companies should be diving into their overall numbers to understand the impact of their work experience on various populations and work practices.

If you are already struggling to get the talent you need to drive revenue and if you are targeting women as a customer or consumer group for growth, then women need to be part of the design, development, and delivery of your business. How the work experience is designed to support and engage women will be a defining factor in what businesses are successful and thriving post-pandemic.

Join us in future weekly blog editions as we explore the role of the office, technology, managing remotely, and more!

Interested in exploring what’s next for your organization? Schedule a no-obligation 30 minute strategy call with Heather by clicking here.

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