Onboarding During a Pandemic

Author: Andrew Gall

Working to make onboarding during a pandemic feel less like onboarding during a pandemic


I come to you with news, courtesy of CF employment engagement partner TinyPulse. And it's not great. Although it's also not surprising. Starting a new job during a pandemic as it's currently done remotelywith new hires unable to introduce themselves in person, shake hands or go to a nice first day lunch with their upstanding new colleagues (and have a glass of wine, or even a beer!)is not an easy thing. 


Of course it isn't! 

Seeing the numbers bear this sentiment out doesn't help. According to a new report TinyPulse released yesterday, hires during COVID-19 feel less connected to peers by 34% compared to previous, non-pandemic times

Increases in mental health struggles during the pandemic have been well documented. And anxiety about starting a new job, fitting in with a new group of people, establishing some sense of purpose and ingratiation into the new culture of a new employer? Those things are delicate and they always take time, regardless of how magnetic, extroverted or gregarious your personality. Could that all be fixed with an in-person welcome martini? Of course not (although it would probably help, depending on your predilection for spirits). And even though the GLORIOUS VACCINE is upon us, it's going to be a while before things go back to somewhere even close to normal.


So, what can we do? 

One conclusion from the TinyPulse study: keeping organizational values top of mind is more important than ever before.

At CF, we hear time and again from employees that it's our close-knit cultural makeup that keeps people hereand it's often the crucial, deciding factor amongst the multitude of career opportunities in our fair city.

You can't plan a culture. It's something that happens organically, voluntarily, and serendipitously. And while there's no way to even come close to replicating company culture remotely, we've had our share of virtual winsfrom organizing surprise toddler parades to special holiday recipe handouts to giving out a whole new stack of employee swagmailed or hand-delivered to all our doorsteps from a safe distance.

Hearing from our own COVID-time hires is the best way to keep learning. They've mentioned that while it's taken longer to meet the team and form relationships without being able to engage in those spontaneous physical bump-ins that lead to deeper bonding experiences, the fact that we've been able to connect on a frequent basisfor everything from daily employee "Cribs" tours to pet show-and-tells to trivia and bingo nightshave all provided more chances to get to know one another. Said one new CFer, "just the simple opportunity to show up and be part of lots of things, from initiatives to activities, makes a huge difference during this time."

Advertising moves fast (like the first part of that old trusty Facebook motto), yet, unlike the second part of that motto, we don't have the client capital to break things. But we're learning more with each hire. And we'll continue striving to make every new member of the CF family feel welcomed from the very moment they (for now) DocuSign their offer letter.

Make no mistake: we're nowhere near where we want to be. Like any good human, we're a work in progress. But with a tangible path forward and a group of people who have bought into what we're building in 2021, we're working harder than ever to make the remote office experience in general feel a little less craptacular.