While there has been quite a bit written about the Great Resignation and the inability to hire, I’ve seen less attention paid to the issues surrounding onboarding new hires. And yet, many of the conversations I’ve had lately have pointed to just how poorly organizations are doing integrating new hires — and how this has been exacerbated by the remote work environment.

Here are just a few examples of what I’ve heard:

  • “When I ‘arrived’ for my first day, no one knew I was starting. HR wasn’t prepared to do my paperwork with me. IT hadn’t even been told to order a computer for me, never mind setting up my email account.”

  • “My onboarding consisted of two straight weeks of back-to-back webinars and Zoom calls. Literally in front of the computer from 8 am to 6 pm. By the time the day was over, I was too spent to actually process any of the events of the day.”

  • “My boss got onto a team video call on my fourth day and, after a few awkward moments where she tried to figure out who I was, said, ‘oh yeah. Welcome to the team.”

I feel for the new hire and, at the same time, I feel for the manager. The managers I’ve spoken with feel as though they don’t have enough fingers to plug all of the holes in the dike they are faced with. They are short-staffed. They have supply chain issues. They are navigating the remote/hybrid work environment. They are spending as much time, if not more, “doing” than they are managing. And, when they do get a new hire, the hope is that they’ll be productive just as quickly as possible. Yet, without a thoughtful onboarding process, the odds of the new hire achieving full productivity quickly, of feeling engaged, and of staying, may be diminished.

What has your experience been with onboarding — either as the new hire or as the hiring manager?