September 2022 is fast approaching – with a whole new cohort of Early Career Professionals (ECPs) about to join our workforces. The shadows of the pandemic and the ramifications of the broader shift to hybrid working will hugely affect these new joiners. So, what can our People/HR Teams and line managers do to help these individuals start strong and feel like they belong?

In one of our opening blogs of January 2022, we reflected on the early careers engagement research from Cappfinity Principal Learning Designer, Lucie Coudret. Coudret conducted research with individuals in their 20s, who had started a new role remotely in a variety of organisations from the Big Four, to private and public organisations and charities. Our previous blog reported her findings into some of the reasons for the disconnect between many current ECPs and their work environments and colleagues, such as perceived inequality due to age, lack of informal learning, feelings of isolation and concerns around mental health and wellbeing.

In this blog we explore Coudret’s findings direct from the voices of these ECPs of what they would have valued in terms of onboarding, learning support and managerial development, so that we can put these insights into practice for the class of ’22.

Onboarding

We know the onboarding process is key to integrate new joiners into an organization and even more so when onboarding virtually or in a hybrid world.

  • Do keep in touch between making the offer and when the new employee joins the company – engaging virtual workshops that introduce the cohort to each other and help individuals get ready to harness their strengths to hit the ground running have worked extremely well with one global pharma we’ve supported
  • Do send a welcome gift, it could be as small as a book or letter, as a nice touch to welcome someone into the organization and especially if virtual, a physical gift can make a huge impact in making the experience feel real
  • Do set-up a formal buddying or mentoring programme (adapted to a hybrid environment)
  • Do set up meet-up calls or facilitate informal (virtual) conversations with people from the organization so they can broaden their network
  • Do schedule in regular one-to-ones to check-in on how they are getting on and to give them an opportunity to share any issues or questions they may have

Learning support and training

As a new joiner and a less experienced employee in the workplace, ECPs would benefit from guidance on learning, relevant training based on needs – with technology and platforms that support learners’ needs and provide personalisation options. Specifically:

  • Rethink the positioning of internal learning platforms and opportunities made available for employees, especially for new starters. Some guidance from the organization and manager is needed on what training to take up
  • Support employees with training on how to communicate virtually. This training should include how to use the technology that the organization adopts and what the etiquette is during Zoom meetings, for example, as well as instant messaging on other apps like MS Teams (e.g. use of emojis, exclamation points, is it best practice to message before calling on Teams?)
  • Identify other key skills needed when working remotely like time and energy management – This came out in Coudret’s research as one of the top areas where ECP’s needed further support. Provide relevant, engaging resources on learning management systems or learning experience platforms for employees to learn about relevant tools and topics personal to them

Managerial development

Managers account for an astonishing 70% of the variance in their team’s engagement (Gallup, 2019). This was backed up by Coudret’s research, which also revealed the strong (positive or negative) impact of managers on their team members wellbeing and experience overall in the workplace. Therefore, it is crucial to develop good managers and leaders through:

  • Engaging new manager training on managerial topics such as giving feedback, communicating, supporting team members, understanding the concept of psychological safety, etc…
  • Booster sessions for all managers to focus on “remote and hybrid management” with best practices to avoid team members feeling isolated or uncomfortable asking questions remotely; as well as understanding the influence they have as managers and the impact of what they do and say in terms of ‘how we work hybridly round here’
  • Why should we care? According to research, managers are sliding back toward their pre-pandemic behaviors, after a spike in better management practices in 2021. For example, in 2019, 59% of managers were open to new information. That increased to 70% in 2020 but then declined to 61% in 2021

What are you planning to do differently in your organization this time round? What do you already do that works well? Share your best practices in the comments so we can all create a better workplace for all.

For a deeper conversation about how we can help your interns and graduates start strong and belong, email cappfinity@development.com