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Companies make the shift to virtual onboarding of new hires

Companies make the shift to virtual onboarding of new hires

KOLKATA: In these Covid times, you could call it socially distant onboarding.

As new hires come on board during the lockdown — and beyond — companies such as Procter & Gamble, Visa, Mahindra & Mahindra, Flipkart and RBS India have made the shift from physical onboarding programmes to innovative, fully virtual experiences aimed at making new joinees who are working from home feel included and welcome.

For new hires missing out on the direct contact and camaraderie of a physical workplace, companies are rolling out initiatives that include gamified digital induction modules; virtual sessions with country heads and CXOs; connecting new hires to ‘buddies’ who can advise and guide them as they work remotely; access to online learning and training resources and much more.

While it is easy getting information in an office environment, it can be really difficult when working remotely, P&G’s human resources head for the Indian sub-continent, PM Srinivas, said.

Thirty-five new hires joined the consumer goods firm last month. To facilitate their induction, P&G has created a customised app, P&G Connect, which provides resources to help navigate the system and also serves as a learning and engagement platform.

At the company, managers and leaders hold virtual ‘meet & greet’ sessions with the new hires to foster camaraderie, he said.

Flipkart has initiated weekly virtual assimilation sessions across the organisation for new hires to induct them into their respective teams, as they work remotely. Teams are also creating their own ‘Learning Leagues’ and organising targeted knowledge-sharing sessions.

The top management is also involved in such exercises at companies.

“Without the luxury of meeting them physically, there are regular video and audio calls with new joiners to help them settle into their new roles, including a virtual session with the country head of Visa,” said Rachita Marwaha, senior director-HR, Visa India & South Asia.

Visa has inducted 40 new hires virtually at its Mumbai and Bengaluru offices. Apart from an induction by the hiring manager, which includes virtual meetups with colleagues across functions, each employee also has access to Visa University, the online learning management system.

At Cognizant, senior management is very closely involved in the assimilation process of new hires. The company’s intranet portal has videos, articles and collaterals targeted exclusively at new employees, and CEO Brian Humphries is a major contributor to these. “These messages and videos provide direction to new employees. In addition, the portal also familiarises new employees with the processes and systems at Cognizant,” global head of talent acquisition Suresh Bethavandu said.

Rajeshwar Tripathi, the chief HR officer at Mahindra & Mahindra, personally takes sessions with the new hires, followed by the respective sector HR heads giving a view of their businesses and strategies, over a five-day induction. Dedicated IT and onboarding SPOCs (single point of contact) are assigned to each joiner to address queries. New hires also have access to the interactive digital induction module which gives them a glimpse into Mahindra’s various businesses, offerings and facilities.

The people services recruit team at RBS India owns the onboarding process, and works closely with the businesses, said Kanwal Kaul, its director of HR talent acquisition lead, India.

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