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Enhanced L&D Strategies

For today’s organizations, keeping remote employees engaged is critical. Declining or low engagement results in higher stress levels, diminished internal communications and reduced teamwork. Increasingly, employers are realizing that it is critical to make sure employees get off on the right start and continue to gain the skills they need to be successful.

According to a new survey, Understanding and Adapting to Today’s Massive Transformation of Work, published by the HR Research Institute (powered by in partnership with SkillSurvey, organizations that feel they have more engaged employees are more likely to:

  • Gather metrics and feedback from employees about job satisfaction and fit as well as their perceptions of their managers;
  • Provide formal L&D for skills necessary to thrive during the pandemic;
  • Have good or excellent onboarding programs.

Yet, only 39% of 275 HR professionals say their organizations are doing a good or excellent job in the area of post-hire talent management—including onboarding. (HR Research surveyed respondents from September to November 2020.) Just 50% of respondents say their onboarding programs include regular check-ins with managers. Many are falling short providing training in new skills, too. This is risky, because the report also finds that the increase in remote work impacts employee communications and well-being. And when it comes to keeping in touch with employees to make sure they’re properly engaged, only 39% agree or strongly agree that their organizations have good employee survey tools.

So, how can you ensure your onboarding experiences and other employee training programs are addressing today’s needs to keep workers engaged—everyone from new hires to longtime employees? Here are five great strategies:

Tailor onboarding to each job candidate’s specific areas of development

Purple unicorns don’t exist – and neither does the perfect job candidate or future employee. But you can improve a new employee’s success and job comfort level by addressing any specific skills gaps with tailored onboarding and training. One of the great things about job relevant reference feedback reports that deliver insights across specific soft skills areas, is that you can use that information to hone each new hire’s onboarding and training programs. For example, if you see that customer service candidate is very strong in problem-solving and interacting with customers but may be weaker in overall time-management skills, you can use that information to focus a training plan.

Measure new employees’ onboarding experience

According to the report, “Onboarding is a critical talent management process that can impact both “time-to-performance” and employee retention. It is usually a period of extensive orientation, training and forming relationships.” During the pandemic, more than half of the organizations surveyed (57%) report that onboarding has shifted virtual. Only 41% of HR professionals surveyed said they gather feedback from new employees on their onboarding experience. That nearly matches the 40% turnover rate that typically happens in a new hire’s first year on the job. SkillSurvey can make it easy to get feedback from new employees on their onboarding experiences, automatically. And that feedback that can analyzed by division, department, supervisor, employee type and position. You can then analyze the data to understand what went right and what went wrong during onboarding. That helps you head off immediate problems and build better onboarding strategies.

Get employee and manager feedback early on and more than once a year

Are employees happy? Is their job meeting the employee’s expectations? Less than half (47%) of HR managers in the new survey gather feedback on job fit and satisfaction. How do employees feel about their managers? Do they feel they have the right skills? Are their remote working arrangements, well, working? Is your culture leaving some employees on the sidelines? If you don’t regularly ask questions like these, you could be unaware of budding human resource issues (or even full-blown crises).

In the study, leader engagement organizations outperformed engagement laggards in two key areas: job satisfaction and fit and employees’ perception of their managers. Extending SkillSurvey post-hire can help you deploy an automated feedback process to reach out to employees and their supervisors/managers. With it, you can do away with cumbersome, one-off survey programs that you have to design on your own and need a PHD to analyze. (Our team of I/O scientists with PhD’s have done the work for you!) Survey employees even before they start with their candidate experience, at onboarding and then 30-, 60-, and 90-days (and beyond). Round out your engagement data on employees with input from an important outside source: their managers. SkillSurvey software uses scientifically designed questions to help you obtain actionable insights and guard against potential bias.

Expand Learning & Development for all your remote workers

Offer robust training programs to help employees learn new skills needed during and after the pandemic. According to the report, organizations most commonly offer learning and development resources (65%) and job shadowing (45%) to help new hires integrate into their new jobs. Learning and development resources are traditionally heavy on the front-end of employment, but not on a continuing basis.

They’re also more prevalent at larger enterprise organizations. According to the study, HR professionals from large organizations are more likely to say they offer learning and development resources (77%) to recent hires to transition them into the workforce. Compare that to only 56% of respondents at small organizations—a 21 percentage-point gap.

What kind of training? Everything from help with remote work tech to essential soft skills—communication, time management, empathy and teamwork. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, soft skills (e.g., communication, teamwork, and dealing with change) are more important than ever. Yet, only 20% say their organization provides tailored formal learning and development for soft skills to a high or very high degree,” states the report. And just 25% say they offer skills necessary to thrive during the pandemic to a high or very high degree.

According to the report, engagement leader organizations have more detailed knowledge about employees in more than just the basics. Respondents at engagement leader organizations are much more likely to say their organization has a detailed and current knowledge of employees’ problem-solving skills (48%) and soft skill sets (42%) compared to just 29% and 28% of laggard organizations, respectively. Having more detailed data about employees puts organizations in a better position to improve employee experience, and it also helps with tailoring learning and development programs to boost succession management and individual’s career development opportunities.

Build robust employee retention levels

Just under half of survey respondents say they’re not highly satisfied with their levels of employee retention. Forbes estimates the cost of losing an employee can be upwards of 133% of their salary. Help ensure retention by making sure you’re placing employees with the right skills in the right roles. And solicit feedback from the start to gauge whether employees’ feel fit for their jobs and their relationships with their managers is on a positive track.

Make onboarding of new employees highly targeted; continually survey employees and their supervisors to spot problems and gain actionable feedback; and offer workers opportunities to learn new skills (hard and soft) to succeed in the digital world.

Download Understanding and Adapting to Today’s Massive Transformation of Work to learn more about the study and ways successful organizations are managing dramatic changes in the way we work.

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