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Virtual Onboarding during the COVID-19 Lockdown

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It is an understatement to state that most companies have been affected by the worldwide pandemic. Hiring, interviewing and onboarding during such an uncertain period is a hard thing, but Aspire has been able to keep business running “as usual”. In order to understand how our hiring and onboarding processes have changed during this lockdown, our Digital Marketing Manager, Camila Luz, spoke (virtually of course!) to our Director of Infrastructure and Support, Harsh Shah and our Director of HR, Laith Al Sarie.

How has onboarding changed since COVID-19?

 

Harsh: Significant changes have been implemented in terms of orientation, on the job training, employee engagement activities and IT setup for new hires. Assessment methods of employee fitment have also altered, now that we are hiring team members without any in-person interaction.

 

 

Laith: Onboarding of course has become entirely virtual, with a few challenges. Onboarding is about putting all facts in front of the candidate where he/she will set the expectations. The first day and the first week are very essential for every new hire and onboarding process. I believe that the first impression is a lasting impression. That’s why we need to pay close attention to the smallest details.

 

What is the online onboarding process like at the moment?

Harsh: The process stays the same, the procedures and means have changed – e.g. remote training sessions, interactive and collaborative chat rooms/channels, etc.

Laith: It’s all done virtually at the moment; the process starts before the joining date where the HR team makes sure to contact new joiners and guide them through every step of the process. On the joiners first day, the orientation is done virtually. Our IT department plays an integral part during this phase as they make sure that the candidate has the right device(s) to connect with other team members efficiently.

How have you been managing employee engagement during this lockdown period?

Laith: Employee engagement is very critical at this stage. We have created a strong communication plan with everyone. For example, our Founder and Managing Director, Kaushal Shah, participated in a video conference with ALL employees in the company and spoke and heard from each and every one of them. Team leads and managers also meet with their team members on a regular basis to check on them and to follow up on different tasks. A few activities have been shared with our employees such as: Share your Remote Working Story, Appreciation Thursday, Trivia Games and Aspire + Kids meeting (where employees get to bring their kids to virtual meetings). We have also been sharing the latest news from the Jordanian Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO) with our employees to keep them informed of the latest developments/updates.

What has changed in terms of tools and training?

Harsh: A lot has changed in terms of tools – those that facilitate higher collaboration, knowledge-sharing and activity-tracking are increasingly in demand. Also reporting tools that help track employee productivity and engagement levels are highly sought after. Unified endpoint and threat management systems are also in high demand to counteract the increased possibility of Information Security (InfoSec) breaches. In the context of a full lockdown, we see facilities like Desktop-as-a-Service adding a lot of value and helping to ensure new staff members get deployed and become productive with minimum logistical hassles.

With regards to training; reskilling and upskilling will be more important than ever. Companies will focus more on virtual training methodologies and this will continue after the lockdown, in my opinion. In this context, training and reminding people that they need to maintain security compliance while working remotely is also very important. At Aspire, we have undertaken an initiative to refresh the basics of safe working while working remotely in the last few weeks to online sessions, fun quizzes and so on.

Do you have any tips for other companies trying to recruit, hire and onboard during this period?

Harsh: I would recommend to spend more time interviewing on behavioral and value fitment, apart from just job role requirements. It would also be good to ensure the potential candidate’s ability to work, communicate and deliver effectively, when WFH (working from home) for prolonged periods of time. An extended and exciting opportunity exists for strategic hires, given that there are many companies globally churning their talent pool.

Laith: The first of the base requirements would be to make sure to digitize paperwork as hiring and onboarding traditionally tend to be heavy with paperwork. There are many useful tools available out there to help with this. It would also be good to organize and arrange all hardware and software needs carefully before the joining date as deliveries are taking longer now than usual. Also make sure to communicate with the employee regularly in order to express and communicate the company culture. Lastly, I agree with Harsh that companies need to invest more in “cultural and behavioral fit” as you can learn a specific skill, but it’s hard to learn attitude.

What tips do you have for candidates preparing for a virtual interview?

Harsh: It would be good to dress appropriately, just like if you were attending an in-person interview. Test and ensure the right tools are available as is the internet connectivity. Be prepared to undertake or showcase a quick-fire technical task/demo.

Laith: Do your research! Read about the company and review study material if needed for the role. Get to know your interviewers beforehand, go on LinkedIn and check their background, qualifications etc. It’s good to create a human connection and build some rapport. Like Harsh mentioned, it’s important to dress smart. Make sure to test your device and your internet connection before the call. Choose a quiet place for the interview and last but not least, be calm and confident.

Overall what do you think about this phase of digital engagement? Will things go back to normal post lockdown?

Harsh: Organizations and individuals were forced to quickly adapt for a prolonged WFH situation. Post lockdown, both companies and employees will be looking to take advantage of the benefits of WFH while balancing them with a ‘back to normal’ routine to deal with the disadvantages. Organizations with robust abilities to hire, train, engage and retain a remote talent pool will lead the growth in terms of capability. Small and medium companies will be looking at hot-desk setups, co-working spaces and other flexible arrangements to increase efficiency. Organizations will also rethink their overall business and delivery models with increased usage of automation in various functions and adoption of cloud based solutions within a secure work paradigm, to ensure better readiness to adapt to such unforeseen scenarios.

Laith: Not all companies have prepared for “digital engagement/digital transformation” or have the capability to do so. It varies from one industry to another. We have already seen companies that could not manage this and others trying to catch up in their digital transformation journey. I believe that after the lockdown, things will be more dynamic in all aspects. WFH will be the “new normal” and companies will prepare themselves more efficiently for this. Working from an office could become an optional aspect for flexible companies. Typical brick-and-mortar shops could focus more on e-commerce platforms and analyze the consumer behavior. Companies and factories who depend on blue collar employees might adopt strict health and safety measures along with work/life balance policies.

Where and how many people have been hired and onboarded since the beginning of the lockdown and how many more are you planning to hire in the next few months?

Laith: Without getting into specific numbers, what I can confirm is that since the lockdown started, we have hired and onboarded several new employees, both in Jordan as well as outside of Jordan. We have many positions open at the moment, so please keep an eye out on our careers page.

In this current reality of COVID-19, now more than ever our customers are relying on us to help them adapt and continue or even start their digital transformation journey. We believe that in order to deliver the best solutions, we need to build high impact teams. Our HR team is working really hard to keep on hiring the best talent out there. Do you want to become an Aspirer too? Apply now.

 

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