Onboarding employees has always been a critical business function. After all, it’s the company’s opportunity to make an impression on the worker. Amid Covid-19, however, this has taken on even greater significance given that remote onboarding is still uncharted territory for many.

Why is onboarding so important? I discussed this recently with Susie Thompson, managing director at Capita plc’s Security Watchdog, in a podcast called “Five things you need to know about the future of onboarding.” This article is based in part on the podcast.

Impetus. When workers exit — whether as a traditional worker or a contingent – you want them to be your raving fans, which is why onboarding is so important. It all relates to the candidate experience, the journey. And because we’re in such a social, digital age, every experience a candidate or worker has with your organization is critical. That experience starts with the very first time the candidate learns of your company — often through a job posting — and doesn’t actually end at the start of the engagement. In fact, the journey — and by extension, onboarding — continues through the entirety of an engagement, ending only when offboarding starts.

HR’s role. We’re seeing HR becoming more involved in the contingent workforce program as it becomes more of a strategic entity for the organization. So, it’s likely — and it ought to be the case — that contingent workers are on boarded in much the same way that a permanent worker is onboarded. Why? When these people exit your business, social media is such that you want these people to exit singing your praises. It’s not enough for these workers to be satisfied. Companies need to excel in this elongated onboarding process in order to turn these workers into devoted followers.

Emerging process. When it comes to these workers, the onboarding experience is still evolving. A contingent worker desires a minimalist approach. They want the bare minimum in terms of an onboarding experience to be successful. Going forward, however, HR is working to give these workers what they want while reinventing and changing archaic models. Technology has been a great ally.

Onboarding’s New Look

Home-boarding and re-boarding. Onboarding has some new looks due to Covid-19, Thompson noted, with home-boarding and re-boarding becoming familiar concepts. A new, remote team member has different onboarding needs than an existing worker being brought back into the office post-lockdown.

Background checking. Background checking is also getting a facelift as organizations use this part of the hiring process to get to know the candidate better. The podcast touches on background checking, first in terms of what people have done in a working environment in the past, but also regulatory and compliance checking. We also discuss whether, in fact, CVs today are often a work of fiction and what the future of the CV itself might be.

The human touch. In a world of increasing technology automation, human beings might actually be able to spend more time on this important task going forward. In the podcast, I argue that Covid-19 has actually created different — and in many ways better and more meaningful — business relationships.

Digital passports. In a few years’ time we are likely to have digital screening passports, enabling candidates to port their background screening profile from role to role, for a fast, seamless onboarding experience.

A modern and nimble onboarding process helps companies establish the right culture and move it forward.

The podcast, produced by Capita plc’s Security Watchdog, is available online.