Onboarding, Training, and Covid-19: The impact on hiring in AR

We’ve gotten accustomed to using technology to communicate with our internal teams since Covid-19 enforced work-from-home policies: Google Chat, Slack, Zoom, and many other tools allow us to connect throughout the day to ask quick questions, have impromptu meetings and try to make up for the lack of hallway conversations and coffee break banter. 

Even with these tools, teams who know each other and are used to working together find it sometimes lacking and disheartening - they miss the direct face-to-face communication.

This is more difficult when you’re adding a new face to the team. When someone new joins your AR team in the midst of this pandemic, there’s a lot of angles to consider:

  • How do you make onboarding a positive and engaging experience, one that brings in company culture and connection?  
  • How can you ensure your new team member is getting the training he or she needs?
  • What needs to happen to ensure your new team member can do his or her job well?

Onboarding and cultural connection

Typically, onboarding and cultural connection are a combination of HR and hiring manager activities.  Today, HR can still send their branded goodies, and deliver Zoom videos of policy presentations, but the hiring manager has a harder time creating engagement with the office and the team, getting initial job training done and organizing the welcoming team lunch. However, it’s not impossible.

  • Have a team lunch anyway. Really. Do it over your web conferencing tool of choice. We’ve all been brown-bagging long enough that this is no longer such a strange idea.  To make conversation easier - because over web conferencing you can’t really have overlapping conversations - prepare some trivia questions or ice breakers that give everyone on the team a chance to speak.
  • Schedule one on ones with team members, influencers and partners. While this is a no-brainer in a “normal” in-person onboarding process, and some of this gets done in hallways and via informal lunches, we no longer have that luxury.  This now must be thoughtfully scheduled to give your new talent as much exposure as possible - and support.

Training

Onsite, intensive training programs are effective, but no longer practical. And day-long web-conferencing sessions are no fun for anyone and diminish the effectiveness of the information being shared.  So as you break up your training into digestible segments, also consider the following:

  • Be clear. Be very, very clear. Without the benefit of hallway conversations and quick chats over coffee, we can forget how much actual communication it takes to bring someone up to speed on all our processes, projects and overall way of working. Expect that in addition to verbal communications, processes and directions will also need to be documented and repeated. This isn’t because your new hire is slow to learn - rather, everyone is being forced to communicate and learn in new ways, and the remote working style for your business is still unfamiliar. Have patience and over-communicate.
  • Assign a team buddy. You might have had this policy in the office setting, and it works just as well via Slack or Zoom. The role of the buddy is to offer the support that’s not in the company handbook - the quirks of some departmental procedures, background on projects (and people!) and where those resources are *really* hiding in Google Drive or other file sharing systems.

Tools to do the job.

Which AR platform are you using and how does it support your team as they work remotely? This is the most critical element of your success with a new hire. The thrill of meeting new team members and getting a new branded fleece aside, if your new talent doesn’t feel like he can be successful in his job, he’s unlikely to stay for long.  

Important considerations for your AR platform’s ability to support your remote team are:

  • An intuitive user experience. It should be relatively easy for your new hire to navigate the system, find the information he needs and proceeds with the tasks he’s assigned.
  • Access to multiple data sources. Regardless of your role on the AR team, you need access to data that can often be found in the ERP, the billing software, the CRM and any other tool being used to collect customer data. A smart, cloud-based AR system can pull all that data together so your new team member can easily find the information he needs to respond to a customer request or keep the AR process moving forward.
  • Visibility across account activity. Since your new hire isn’t sitting right next to a peer or senior team member, he is unable to ask if a specific customer has been called or an invoice re-sent. The right AR system will record and track all account activity and minimize the gaps in communication or human error when it comes to handling accounts. 

There is much more the right AR system can do to support your new hires - and your current team - during this time of remote working. The three features listed above, however, are critical to the success of a team that is working efficiently and effectively.

Automation of processes, of customer communication and a centralized, online customer portal also provide important benefits to your business, such as accelerated cash flow, improved customer happiness and increased employee satisfaction. 

As you examine your team and your processes during this on-going work-from-home period, consider the wisdom of investing in a smart AR platform to the benefit of your new hires, your current team and your overall business health.