By Sandie Overtveld

Asia Pacific businesses need to make onboarding, engaging with, and incentivising new hires a priority in 2022, especially as the Covid-triggered Great Resignation rolls into town. Not heard much about the phenomenon yet? You will, and soon.

In Singapore, recruitment expert Michael Page reports that 56% of workers surveyed are expecting to find a new job in 2021 with 36% passively open to new roles. This is especially worrisome considering that the cost of replacing an employee is estimated to range from 50% to 60% of their annual salary, according to SHRM.

Why helping new employees find their feet and fit in has never been more important
Many of these would-be and will-be ‘resigners’ are drawn from the ranks of junior and middle management. For some, extended stretches of home-based working during 2020 and 2021 provided unexpected opportunities for introspection, resulting in the conclusion that they were in the wrong role or organisation.

Others feel burnt out, unsupported, and under-appreciated by employers who’ve expected them to go the extra mile and do whatever it’s taken to help their organisations navigate the many challenges Covid has thrown up.

A recent survey commissioned by The Straits Times in Singapore showed that 52% of employees felt their workload had increased while 36% experienced a decline in mental health.

With vaccination rates rising and economies in the region continuing to reopen and rebound, this sizeable cohort of workers may be up and out, as soon as suitable opportunities present.

Rebuilding your workforce
Recruiting their replacements promises to keep HR departments humming along in the new year. Finding and securing top talent may remain tricky in some over-subscribed sectors, but the challenge won’t be over when rookie recruits sign on the dotted line and show up for work.

An effective onboarding program, complemented by the right digital adoption technologies, are critical if new hires are to become familiar with the organisation, their colleagues and their role, and get up to speed quickly. It’s the key to minimising the productivity lag that comes standard when an individual starts somewhere new and can have an indelible effect on their perceptions about the organisation and their attitude towards the role they’ve taken on. The effectiveness of the onboarding process can impact key employee metrics such as employee engagement, retention and productivity.

Business leaders have begun to recognise that remote onboarding is no longer an option, but instead a necessity, and many companies have now learned to manage every stage of the employee lifecycle remotely.

Getting off to a great start
So, what should the onboarding process comprise for businesses that hope to turn new recruits into engaged, invested and highly productive contributors who’ll stick around for the long haul? Make them feel valued, supported and empowered from the get-go.

The pandemic has forced HR departments to embrace alternative ways and means of inducting employees and some of those tools and processes are likely to remain, even as normal service resumes.

For many enterprises, digital growth and transformation have drastically accelerated in order to meet the demands of remote or hybrid work in today’s environment. The question which then begs to be answered is: What is the best way to use digital tools to onboard employees remotely?

Technologies such as digital adoption platforms must now be used to allow for person-to-person communication, scalable training, and social integration. For those not accustomed to working in a wholly virtual workplace, remote onboarding can be challenging, so it is critical to proactively address these challenges in order to create a great onboarding experience.

An intuitive, user-friendly digital solution, for example, can be deployed to take care of the ‘bread and butter’ topics – how the organisation operates, the tools employees need to perform their roles, commonly used forms and apps and the like. Benefits include employees being able to access and digest information at their own pace and the ability to ensure every joiner receives the same consistent, high quality experience.

Here are 5 ways that can simplify the remote onboarding process:

  • Self-service tools
  • Employee monitoring
  • Continual communication
  • Remote training solutions
  • Instilling the company culture

While there’s no substitute for human connection, technologies that enable a smooth onboarding experience are crucial in the era of the hybrid workplace.

In our experience, it’s all about balance and getting it right. In practice, that means offering a blend of carefully curated, need-to-know information and plenty of personal contact, assistance, and empathy via a well-run HR department and colleagues from all levels of the organisation.

Best foot forward in 2022 and beyond
Remote onboarding, done the right way, can have a material impact on employee engagement and productivity. Both will be critical for enterprises in the region that hope to survive and thrive through the volatile and uncertain times to come. For that reason, it’s vital to ensure your organisation has an effective remote onboarding strategy whereby new employees can put their best foot forward.

Sandie Overtveld is the VP & GM APAC at WalkMe


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