Hiring and staffing challenges are among the top concerns organizations are currently facing. A persistent worker shortage, recently dubbed the Great Resignation, is a result of multiple factors, including COVID uncertainty and job or career dissatisfaction.
Employers in many industries have had to shift their employment policies to reflect new employee preferences, particularly offering permanent options for remote work. Regardless of the industry, organizations need to make employee engagement a priority, for both remote and in-person employees. Employee engagement is critical for attracting and retaining talent, and positive experiences need to start from the first interactions, which means the interviewing and hiring process.
Remote work has opened up new possibilities for both organizations and potential employees. For instance, remote work has removed some limits, such as working in a certain geographical area. But organizations need to take steps to make sure their remote workers feel engaged and connected. As Gartner recently observed on employees’ feelings about work, “Many are developing a new sense of self-awareness and worth, and they won’t easily forget if they have felt undervalued, especially in an environment with less physical visibility, as occurs with more remote work, and where it can feel a lot harder to be seen.”
First impressions do matter, and organizations can use advanced video conferencing and other technology tools to elevate their employees’ experiences starting from the initial interviewing process. HR departments need to be aware of selecting the right tools and solutions that both offer high-quality experiences and ease of use.
Challenges and solutions for remote interviews and evaluations
For some industries and organizations, virtual or remote hiring and interviewing processes have been the norm. Job seekers in certain industries – for instance, many knowledge workers – are already comfortable with remote work and hiring procedures. But for individuals who are new to remote work and related procedures, the transition to remote interviewing presented new challenges.
Organizations and interviewers acknowledge that communicating can be more difficult with remote interviewing. Some common challenges that both interviewers and job seekers face during remote interviews include:
- Less ability to clearly read body language or make eye contact
- Communication difficulties can make it harder to understand questions and answers
- Job seekers are unable to get a good feel for the office atmosphere or culture
- Technology issues could cause frustration and affect the interview
But there are some steps and best practices that organizations can follow to create a better remote experience. First, it’s on the organization to clearly communicate expectations to both the interviewer and the job seeker. Gitlab notes that in a remote interview, “You also have technical considerations to make since the person joining the video/conference call is using a different setup than you, or they may not have interviewed remotely before. Be clear about how to join the interview and the technical requirements.”
High-quality video conferencing tools can provide a better experience for job applicants and interviewers. Harvard Business Review recently mentioned an additional benefit to video interviews: “The screen creates a sense of psychological safety that may allow people to open up more than they might in person. Employers can lean into this phenomenon to draw candidates out more quickly.”
Other advanced planning tips include preparing questions and remarks ahead of time. It’s also important to test equipment and technology to make sure that connections are working and that interviewees and interviewers can hear and understand each other. Using higher quality video conferencing software also offers a more secure, more interactive experience.
Challenges and Best Practices of virtual onboarding
Successful onboarding is critical for new hires, and when done effectively, can start making new employees feel included and part of the new team. Gartner added, “Functional leaders must build this bond through an onboarding program that shows empathy for those experiencing it, demonstrates values in action and plants the seeds for peer relationships.”
In addition, workplace experts note that everyone is feeling out of sync right now because of the persistent uncertainties involving the pandemic. But onboarding programs can provide much-needed support. According to Harvard Business Review, “Great onboarding helps individuals regain their confidence and cuts down the time it takes for them to get up and running. But new hires aren’t the only people who could benefit from this type of structured support. Right now, everyone at your company needs some form of onboarding.”
Organizations need to make extra efforts to address key challenges with remote onboarding, particularly in establishing company culture when it comes to hybrid/remote work. Good onboarding processes can also help boost employee engagement and create a much-needed sense of community. A recent article in the Washington Post suggests implementing onboarding programs “that offer several points of connection and give new employees the chance to meet both their co-workers and other people across the organization. And when employees join, managers should make sure new hires feel like they have some ownership in the company’s culture.”
Getting acquainted with co-workers is challenging when you’ve never met in person. This challenge is compounded for new graduates pursuing their first jobs.
Here are some key best practices to create successful onboarding and employee engagement programs:
- Clearly communicate policies, administrative information, payroll, HR, benefits and other crucial information employees need to understand quickly
- Use onboarding to create opportunities to meet with team members every day. Video conferencing provides a much better alternative to phone calls due to the face-to-face aspect of video
- Offer team building and mentoring opportunities to your fully remote employees. It’s crucial to make sure that remote-only hires have same the opportunities as hybrid or in-person hires
- Take advantage of technology tools to provide seamless collaboration. Use video conferencing software for group training, small group and one-on-one interaction. Shared documents, chat, whiteboard, and markup tools make it easy for teams to communicate in an engaging way
When selecting video and collaboration tools, be sure to select tools that can give teams high-quality and interactive experiences.