4 tips for onboarding cohorts in the hybrid workplace

The current talent shortage has made it more important than ever to find—and retain—good talent. Hiring top talent is a critical aspect of building a productive team, and a new hire’s onboarding experience can determine whether they succeed in the new role, or even stay with the company. In fact, a negative onboarding experience results in new hires being two times more likely to look for new opportunities. 

Whether you’re hiring one individual or a cohort of people, a successful onboarding process should get new hires up to speed on their roles and responsibilities and make sure they feel welcomed and included in your company culture. But the rise in hybrid workplaces has added some complexity to the onboarding process, and many experts agree that remote and hybrid onboarding requires a more dedicated focus and deliberate execution. A recent PwC survey found that more than 30% of employees find the onboarding experience worse now than in pre-covid times. These days, the challenge lies in creating consistent, compelling onboarding experiences across multiple teams and timelines, regardless of location.

Consider onboarding in cohorts

Scaling your business is often dictated by recruiting and hiring top talent. Faced with the need to support these efforts with an effective hybrid onboarding experience, top organizations are choosing to onboard new hires in cohorts, which is simpler to manage, saves time and money, and provides each member of the group with an immediate sense of community and belonging. New hires get the chance to foster friendships and form bonds with colleagues and team members who are just as new and nervous as they are, creating cross-functional partnerships that benefit the company in the long run. Cohort onboarding also leads to improved employee retention as it is less likely that a new employee will feel isolated in the onboarding process. 

If you are considering onboarding in cohorts at your organization, here are four tips to maximize the effectiveness of the cohort onboarding experience: 

1. Keep it real 

The best way to build context is to provide real-life scenarios that anticipate your employee’s future experiences. One of the most effective ways to onboard remote cohorts of employees is to build custom, immersive scenario simulations that model real-life challenges new hires will face in the coming months. This model dramatically shortens the time it takes for employees to become productive and helps diminish the risks associated with new hires jumping into the job unprepared.

Along with job-specific skills, training sessions based on real-world experiences provide an opportunity for you to share company-wide best practices, procedures, culture, and expectations—something that can be challenging to impart in a hybrid environment. Traditionally, new hires would connect to organizational culture organically through their day-to-day, in-person interactions. In the remote working world, it’s more likely that employees will lack a sense of culture and connection, making it even more critical to find intentional ways to bring them into the fold from day one. 

2. Use synchronous, team-driven learning experiences 

Cohort-based learning allows new hires to move through the newness of the onboarding experience together. Incorporating a synchronous, team-driven discovery learning component into the onboarding program has numerous benefits, including social interaction and collaboration that create a sense of community, improved application and retention, increased engagement, and broadened networking. And because these experiences are designed to be delivered in remote and hybrid settings, you’re less at risk of proximity bias—that is, showing favoritism to in-person employees over remote workers. 

3. Make it engaging 

Subjecting new hires to days of Zoom meetings, talking head presentations, and information dumps will not result in a successful and engaging experience. Instead, your onboarding program should incorporate a distinctly virtual experience that’s aligned with your organization’s culture. By using a simulation, rather than a one-way presentation of content, you’ll make learning fun, which not only creates a positive impression but has been shown to significantly increase learning and knowledge retention. 

READ MORE: How to improve remote onboarding with Zoom

4. Don’t neglect the individual 

Even if all the new hires in the cohort are going to be doing the same job function, it’s still important to connect with each person on an individual level. The onboarding process should include both structured and unstructured opportunities for individuals to bond with their teammates, discuss preferred work settings and styles, and have a chance to ask questions they may not wish to share in a cohort setting. You may also need to incorporate skill-building and training that is specific to the individual. 

READ MORE: Tips for onboarding remote employees effectively

A remote cohort onboarding experience that gets new hires off to a good start

Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design and delivery platform makes it possible for our team of designers and producers to create cost-effective and timely custom synchronous, team-driven, discovery-learning experiences. Delivered via Zoom, or another preferred video conferencing platform, ExperienceBUILDER uses custom, real-world scenarios to mimic on-the-job applications. The simulations delivered by ExperienceBUILDER incorporate enterprise metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success. The synchronous, team-driven activities keep new hires fully engaged, and challenging dilemmas inspire learners to debate, test, and share past experiences. Your onboarding cohorts can collaborate to solve real-world problems, resulting in stronger teams and better onboarding outcomes.

Want to talk specifically about using ExperienceBUILDER to create an exceptional remote onboarding experience for your cohorts of new hires? Get in touch with the team to schedule a demo.

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