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The Importance of Training and Onboarding Staff in a Post-Pandemic World | By Jeff Venza

In any industry, hiring, training, and effectively onboarding new staff is a significant undertaking that is often wrought with nuanced challenges.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, however, we find ourselves in an entirely new landscape.

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Over the past 12 months, rapid digital transformation has enabled organizations to reimagine how they work and manage talent completely. By 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers (Upwork), and internal communication and support processes across organizations have been placed under a critical lens. Workflow breakdowns and lapses in best practices have come to the forefront while employees struggle to leverage digital tools in a way that mimics real-time collaboration and communication.

Those in leadership positions are faced with more responsibility than ever before as they grapple with the limitations of the work from home model. How can managers ensure staff remain engaged and supported from afar? Do employees receive adequate peer-to-peer recognition within this new model? Are productivity levels remaining consistent? Are workflows optimized? Are staff receiving the support they need during a historically stressful time?

More importantly – as company leadership looks to hire back and effectively onboard staff in a post-pandemic world, what will that process look like? How can managers ensure that critical learnings, especially those relating to company security, remain accounted for? Furthermore, for those industries, such as hospitality, that rely on in-person experiences, what pandemic-specific protocols must staff be trained to execute?

As our team at VENZA continues to grow during uncertain times, we find our leadership striving to answer many of these questions in real-time. We know first-hand that, in the coming months, training and awareness throughout the onboarding process should be top of mind. From an IT perspective, specifically, companies that pay attention to detail when considering and reforming their onboarding and mentorship programs will help to onboard a workforce that is not susceptible to ransomware and attacks.

The case for a great onboarding process is undeniable, but we are relying on an onboarding process that is mainly virtual in a post-pandemic world. Despite the challenges associated with the remote infrastructure, managers still have a responsibility to personally guide new hires through any potential barriers and immerse them in the business in both an engaging and detail-oriented manner. This program's creation should be focused on compliance, clarification, company culture, and connection, which demands buy-in from all organization levels.

Prior to a new hire's first day, make sure you have completed the following tasks:

Before their first day, new hires should have a complete picture of the organization at large, the department they work in, the teams they will engage with, and the expectations associated with their role.

Internally, organizations must recognize the increase in ransomware attacks across industries since the onset of the pandemic. As the world collectively shifts to embrace an online experience, attackers are honing in on unsuspecting employees who are poorly protected (or simply poorly trained) in the realm of digital security. In fact, research shows that the has jumped by 350% since 2018. In July, Garmin, the multinational technology company, was hit with a $10m ransom from attackers. Since then, cybercriminals have expanded their exploitative efforts beyond the traditional world of commerce to include healthcare organizations, hotels, travel brands, and more.

With this in mind, organizations should emphasize online security protocols during the onboarding process, ensuring their growing team can grasp current cyber hygiene practices.

In fact, mentorship is a key part of the offered by high-performing companies. Quora, a popular question-and-answer website, allocates a personal mentor to each new hire. The start-up also and organizes ten onboarding talks over the first few weeks of a new hire's employment. Twitter is also a notable leader in the onboarding space, with over 75 steps facilitated across recruiting, HR, IT, and Facilities. Simultaneously, Buffer, a fully remote workforce, provides new hires three who play different roles in their six-week onboarding 'boot camp experience.' With the help of a 'Leader Buddy,' a 'Role Buddy', and a 'Culture Buddy,' new hires are seamlessly guided through their onboarding experience with frequent communications, check-ins, and tangible support – even from afar.

Onboarding allows a brand the perfect opportunity to tell their story and, more importantly, clarify each new hire's role in continuing that story. Taking the time to connect directly with each new hire and relay its history, values, best practices, and big-picture vision helps ensure that the employee assimilates meaningfully into the corporate structure.

Although IT and security may seem, at first glance, like a separate world from company culture, it's important to marry these two areas together. An employee who buys-in to the company vision and values is an employee who approaches their work with care and precision. An employee who takes their work and their place within a company seriously is an employee who doesn't make needless mistakes or falls victim to security-related threats. Trust is a two-way street, and earning the trust and appreciation of incoming employees helps to ensure that they, in turn, can be trusted to fulfill their potential within the company.

Ultimately, a great employee onboarding process leads to well-adjusted, invested, and accountable employees that are well-positioned to become long-term, valuable team members. Setting your new hires up for sustainable success, in turn, sets your organization up for success with heightened security and IT protection, improved retention, strong organizational commitment, reliable employees, higher performance, and happy clients.