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The Importance of Good Onboarding in the Hybrid Model of Work

With organizations of every size gradually adopting the hybrid model of work, employee engagement efforts must be increased to ensure employee retention, performance, and productivity.





The Hybrid Model Pre-COVID-19

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic drove companies to adopt remote working, the concept of decentralizing employees was gaining traction. More and more companies could no longer deny the decreased costs in office rental after forgoing a traditional office space. Office co-shares such as WeWork and Impact Hub have gained popularity over the last few years for not only its reducing commercial rental costs but the collaborative nature of co-working. While the hybrid model of work was commonly adopted by younger companies and startups before, the pandemic has pushed the boundaries of what we perceive as flexible working.


Continued Trends of Shared Workspaces and Flexibility

While the hybrid model of work was often associated with young tech companies, large corporate banks have joined in the trend of reducing office space and allowing more flexible work arrangements. In April 2021, It was announced that the DBS Group will cut office space across its markets by 20 per cent in the next four to five years as it adopts a hybrid work model and redesigns its workspaces, while OCBC and Standard Chartered were weighing options to downsize its office space and offer more options in hybrid working for their employees. Several global firms such as Spotify, Facebook and Microsoft have announced permanent work-from-anywhere policies, while global companies such as Amazon have opted to return to the usual office-centric culture. The Singapore government has also pushed for companies to allow flexible working arrangements to allow employees to spend more time with their families.


The Effects of the Hybrid Working Model

However, the effects of the hybrid working model are still up to debate. While there is a multitude of benefits with flexible work, such as reduced transport costs, increased family time and increased collaboration, many executives worry about the dilution of company culture, team identity and overall productivity.


Good Onboarding to Increase Employee Engagement

Therefore, companies must do more to increase employee engagement and work satisfaction. This effort must be a continuous process, starting from their first day of work. Onboarding is a process that cannot be neglected: 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. This is crucial as up to 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days. (SHRM HR) Studies have shown that the onboarding period may be the most critical part of the employee’s experience in the new organization. Recruiting and training new staff is an expensive process and high employee turnover is costly. The organizational costs of employee turnover are estimated to range between 100% and 300% of the replaced employee’s salary.

Onboarding works best when it is a comprehensive, systematic process of integrating new employees into the organization as there are aspects of onboarding that may be neglected if a structure is not in place. Introductions to the company history, values and culture will quickly guide the new employee into adjusting to their new role and encourage them to take ownership of it. Now, more than ever, strong links need to be established between new employees with their colleagues and bosses to strengthen team dynamics. Communication is also a key facet of effective onboarding. Both parties must communicate about the expectations, assess needs, define goals, and discuss the concerns about their role during the onboarding process. Without role direction or clearing doubts, the new employee’s productivity will not begin. This is more evident in higher management and executive roles where the new employee is expected to lead others. Good onboarding starts the new employee off on a good note and helps them to feel part of a team, creating the foundation of their job satisfaction and enhancing their productivity and performance in the new role.


The Future of Onboarding

Increasingly, human resource managers are more interested in having a genuine connection with employees. Research has shown that traditional onboarding methods of focusing on what the employee offers to the company is losing effectiveness. Managements should treat the employee-organisation relationship as partnerships. Instead of focusing on how the employee can work for the company, focus on how the employee’s unique skills can be applied to the company. Other approaches can include coaching/mentorships, career progression and mobility in the company and goal alignment. What can your company do for your employee’s goals? All of these elements in a good onboarding programme can increase talent retention in your company.

As COVID-19 has shown us, conventional fixed working spaces and hours do not determine performance. However, as the widespread application of flexible work is still a relatively new phenomenon, the effects of the hybrid model of working are still undetermined. With lesser face time and office interactions, companies must focus on strengthening company culture and employee relationships. Therefore, investing in a good onboarding program should be prioritized as a key element of the company’s HR strategy, ensuring job satisfaction and talent retention.



At WeLinkTalent, we are strong proponents of good onboarding for new employees. We are developing and testing a comprehensive, coaching-based programme to enhance the onboarding process for executives of different levels, adapted to the leader’s needs and will speak more about it as soon as the proof of concept is validated. Our programme aims to communicate agendas, set expectations, provide support, and act as insurance.

Want to know more? Contact us directly.


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References:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/banking/dbs-to-cut-office-space-by-20-in-next-few-years-ceo

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/banking/standard-chartered-bank-considers-slashing-singapore-office-space

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/banking/ocbc-may-cut-down-on-number-of-branches-reviewing-office-space-needs

https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/silly-not-to-lock-in-gains-of-remote-and-flexi-work-arrangements-0

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/firms-should-consider-hybrid-model-of-working-indranee

https://www.octanner.com/insights/articles/2018/9/14/an_onboarding_checkl.html

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/reducing-new-employee-turnover-among-emerging-adults.aspx

https://hbr.org/2015/03/technology-can-save-onboarding-from-itself

https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/reinventing-employee-onboarding/


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