TMCnet Feature
July 27, 2021

How to Get Your Post-Pandemic Hires Up to Speed Fast

In case you haven’t noticed, employers are in the midst of a hiring spree. Perhaps your organization is along for the ride too.

The current jobs boom is the release of more than a year of pent-up demand for labor. Amid the uncertainty and forced business closures of the pandemic, most employers wouldn’t or couldn’t hire new talent. Many couldn’t even maintain their pre-pandemic payrolls; thousands upon thousands of such enterprises closed for good.

Those that remain are, by and large, stepping out into a much healthier economy. But the post-pandemic boom is not entirely trouble-free for employers. Workers aren’t just idling around, ready to jump at the first offer they get. They’re pickier about where and how they work. Their newfound clout is reflected in this year’s rapid wage growth and chronic labor shortages in lower-paying industries.

Even if your industry isn’t facing a labor crunch or skyrocketing labor costs, it’s surely filled with employers who need to staff up quickly to take advantage of the post-pandemic boom. That means your recruiting and onboarding processes need to be nimbler, more efficient, and more engaging than your competitors’. Word gets around fast, and you don’t want to gain a reputation as behind the times before your hiring spree kicks into gear.

You don’t have to. At least, not if you use these four best practices to get your new hires up to speed fast and set them up for success during their first months on the job.

Set Up a Knowledge Base (News - Alert) That Helps New Hires Answer Their Own Questions

Your HR team can’t be everywhere at once. Fortunately, with the right amount of automated and self-serve support, they don’t have to be.

For new hires on and after their first day of work, the core of this support should be a comprehensive knowledge base that recruits can refer to at will. Structure this resource as an internal knowledge base (that is, one not accessible to anyone outside the company) and populate it with:

  • Detailed questions and answers relevant to the onboarding process and the employee experience, preferably in “FAQ” format
  • Your organization’s entire employee handbook, with an interactive table of contents and internal links for ease of use
  • Additional information about company policies and practices, organized by roles, departments, or processes
  • A company directory or list of contacts that the new hire needs

You’ll need to get each new hire up to speed on how to use your knowledge base, of course. But this shouldn’t take long if you’re using a user-friendly knowledge base template that’s customized and organized logically.

Pair Each New Hire With a Longer-Serving Mentor

This isn’t the human resources nightmare it appears to be. You can assign more than one new hire to each mentor, betting that the juniors will be respectful of their sherpas’ time.

Structured mentorship programs have many demonstrated benefits, as do informal mentor-mentee pairings. These relationships often blossom into more durable sponsor-sponsee relationships that cultivate institutional knowledge and nourish upper management candidates, for example.

In the short term, these pairings are more useful for:

  • Steeping new hires in the organization’s culture and sussing out serious culture-fit issues before they cause real problems
  • Delivering qualitative or subjective information that new hires might not get from a knowledge base or company handbook
  • Establishing support and feedback networks for new hires outside the official chain of command

Each new hire should know who their mentor is on day one. And both mentor and mentee should have clear-cut parameters for the relationship, including its minimum required length (after which, pairs are free to maintain contact if the relationship is working out).

Get the Housekeeping Work Out of the Way Before Day One

Your new hires should be ready to hit the ground running right away. If you bury them in a mountain of onboarding paperwork on day one, they won’t get very far.

Ensure your new hires are ready to work on their first day of work by getting the housekeeping out of the way beforehand. As soon as they accept your offer of employment, get your new hires set up in your company’s self-serve HR portal and give them their pre-start to-do list. That list should include:

  • Payroll and benefits setup and elections
  • Reading through your employee handbook (include a “junior summary” with your full handbook to ensure that all new hires absorb key points)
  • Reviewing a personalized “training itinerary” that outlines what’s expected of each new hire at key intervals during training and early tenure, out to at least the 180-day mark
  • Reviewing role-specific training modules for key systems or processes that your organization uses, such as its CRM
  • Creating actionable goals for their first days, weeks, and months on the job — goals that immediately create an accountability relationship and give new hires “skin in the game”

The purpose of this exercise isn’t to overwhelm new hires. The workload should be manageable enough for candidates to tackle in their spare time during the pre-start period, working no more than an hour or two per day.

Create Social and Team-Building Opportunities for New Hires

Finally, build on your new hire mentorship program with a robust and diverse menu of social and team-building opportunities for new hires.

In a centralized office setting, these opportunities might take familiar forms like team or office happy hours, volunteer days, and culture days. In a remote workplace, they might live in Slack channels or some other virtual environment.

In either setting, the output should be the same: a sense of belonging and shared purpose that speeds up the sometimes-delicate culture-fit process and makes every new hire feel as if they have a stake in the organization. Your new hires will work harder and learn faster when they see your organization as a place to belong — not just a place to work.

Hire for the New Normal

Use these four strategies consistently and at scale across your organization and you’ll soon notice a difference in onboarding outcomes. You’ll see new hires work more efficiently during their first days and weeks on the job, reach key performance milestones earlier in their tenure, and create network effects that make your company more attractive to other recruits.

That’s just what the HR doctor ordered for the post-pandemic boom. In the new normal, the old “good enough” approach to onboarding just won’t do.

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