As we move through the academic year, many students are preparing to graduate and enter the world of work. However, these future workers will be entering into a working environment unlike any other we’ve experienced. Universities continue to teach remotely, but now, these students can expect to begin their professional careers while working from home. This is a worrying prospect. According to a survey by Prospects, 82 per cent of graduates in 2020 said that they felt disconnected from their employers. Meanwhile, 83 per cent said that the pandemic has caused a lack of motivation.
A fortunate upside of remote education in the past year is that these students now have a comprehensive understanding of remote work and technology. Not only has this generation grown up surrounded by it, but they have now lived their lives through it. Perhaps this is why the current Generation Z students are commonly referred to as “digital natives”. Leading the way in terms of new technology, the digital landscape is easily navigated by these graduates. However, beginning in a new role in unknown territory without leaving home can still be a daunting experience.
For businesses, the prospect of introducing new employees into a remote working environment is equally challenging. Usual training practices, such as shadowing senior staff members in the office or on-site, are no longer possible. But, as digital signage solutions specialist Exterity explores, using effective digital training methods can help businesses onboard graduate employees successfully and create valuable employees.
The first day (not) at work
When entering a business, a new employee may expect an onslaught of inductions and meetings with their manager, team members, and other employees across many departments. The aim of this is to demonstrate the culture and processes of the business. Cross-departmental understanding is important. For example, a new employee in the marketing department should know how the finance department operates. Departments within one business are all connected, after all.
Digital inductions have been made simple for new graduate employees. Applications and tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom allow businesses to easily organise induction schedules and pair new recruits up with staff members across the business. Most students have been made familiar with these tools thanks to the pandemic. The usage of Microsoft Teams and Zoom grew by 894 per cent and 644 per cent respectively, between February and June 2020.
In addition to direct communication with new employees, presentations can be broadcast across these detail tools. This can be done with individuals or a group of new employees.
Leading by example
A lot of companies will use shadowing as a form of training. This is an effective method to train new graduates who are often taking their first steps in their chosen career. This method allows new employees to recognise the skills and processes used by a team or department on an average day. It’s also a good opportunity to integrate themselves into the culture of a company.
This is a valuable form of training, especially for new graduates. Over a quarter of final-year internship opportunities were lost to the pandemic, meaning that on-the-job learning has been scarce in the past year. But while some key workers can continue in-person shadowing, for many roles it is no longer possible.
Attending the virtual meetings of the person you are shadowing is an effective way to introduce the new employee into the department and the role they will be filling. For customer-facing roles, allowing graduates to attend client calls can help them to recognise positive interactions between the business and the customer. Online meetings mean that graduates can easily be added to emails and video calls. They should be encouraged to take notes and ask questions during these meetings.
Do as I do
Observational shadowing is essential for training new employees. But doing this in the digital world can still be an effective learning tool when working from home. Sharing the screen of your computer with a new recruit over Teams or Zoom is a great way to help employees learn how to add a new business lead to CRM or update the company website.
Graduate employees are critical for roles with advance systems. Degrees help students learn critical thought, complex processes, and managing difficult tasks. However, their learning is not 100 per cent complete. There’s still a lot to learn on the job. Fortunately, there is no shortage of great online training solutions to take advantage of. Online courses are led by market-leading experts and provide excellent insight into sectors and specific roles. One example of this is HubSpot, which has many free courses for a variety of industries.
Even normal in-house training can be taken online. Pre-recorded presentations can be uploaded to a shared drive, or live conferences can provide real value to the education of your employees. These lessons can teach graduates the key processes of the company, and train them in the systems and tools they’ll use in their role.
One study by IBM suggests that online learning is very effective. People learnt five times more material by studying online as opposed to normal face-to-face training. Even better, by directing your learning online, and with the use of new technology, simulated tasks can be assigned for new employees to complete. This creates critical skills with no risk. This is being used in fields such as medicine, where technology such as augmented reality help to simulate complex medical work. This proves for far-reaching capabilities of personal online learning.
The recruiting experience for both graduates and businesses is wildly different from usual circumstances. New graduates are jumping into a competitive job market that has fewer prospects. Businesses also face the difficulties of onboarding this talent using remote solutions. However, with a careful approach, businesses can still effectively integrate new employees across their organisation. Even better, the “digitally native” graduates are ready to contribute to your business. Digital is their standard. With the right recruiting and training practices, businesses can retain the very best talent the new graduates have to offer.
Andrew Richardson, Exterity