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Digital onboarding – how to succeed even without personal contact

As is the case with nearly all divisions of companies, the COVID-19 epidemic has also impacted human resources departments. Many companies have had to revamp their entire recruiting process and adapt it to COVID-19 regulations. Although efforts had already been made to digitize more and more steps in the recruitment process even before the pandemic outbreak, the COVID crisis has been accelerating this development. While previously only the preselection stage occurred as a phone or video interview, applicant interviews via video call have now become the norm for all stages. But once the applicant has been hired, the next challenge comes: onboarding must occur without personal contact. The crisis has turned the integration of new employees on its head, for team activities such as lunching together or regular coffee breaks are possible only in virtual form at the present time. But it is long been no secret that the first days on the job are enormously important and determine how a new employee will adjust to the company.

As digitalization experts with the latest tools from our partners ready at hand, we have for some time been able to work anywhere remotely, and we have already digitalized many steps in the recruiting process even prior to the pandemic. At the start of the lockdown, we therefore needed to make only a few adjustments in just a few days to get a fully digitalized alternative for our onboarding up and running, affording our new colleagues as smooth a start as possible, physical distance notwithstanding.

Digital Welcome Days @ Scheer – a different kind of onboarding

At Scheer the first week of work for all newcomers begins with the Welcome Days, which usually take place at the beginning of each month. We generally invite all new employees to our headquarters in Saarbrücken, so that they can get to know the two red towers on the edge of the university campus.

The Welcome Days as an introductory event for new employees have been a fixed part of onboarding at Scheer. Whether they have previous professional experience or are novices, we want all new employees to have a pleasant and interesting start at Scheer. In the course of the Welcome Days they become comprehensively acquainted with the Scheer companies and our business divisions. Various presentations and workshops convey all important information essential for a successful start. Especially important to us is that our new employees feel well and welcomed from the outset – also a goal in the present “Digital Welcome Days”.

Nico Schnubel from the Scheer Recruiting Team has organized the online event, and in the interview provides an insight into how we at Scheer are handling the new situation.

How are the “Digital Welcome Days” at Scheer to be understood? How much has changed compared with the event held locally at headquarters?

Nico: To make our newcomers’ start at Scheer as pleasant as possible despite the pandemic, we have developed a concept for also offering our Welcome Days in digital form. The biggest change is that our Welcome Days now occur remotely via Microsoft Teams.

What digital possibilities are being used?

Nico: Successful onboarding already begins prior to the first day at work: before starting, all new colleagues receive their personal IT equipment from us by post. They can then easily attend the various presentations and workshops during our Digital Welcome Days. The individual presentations occur via Microsoft Teams. Our new employees then directly acquaint themselves with the Microsoft platform, which we both use internally ourselves and offer to our customers for creating a modern workplace.

During the Digital Welcome Days, Teams ensure flawless video transmission and interactions. All participants can then view one another and have the possibility at all times of exchanging ideas or raising questions.

How are the Digital Welcome Days being received by the participants?

Nico: Very positively! Everyone is aware of the altered circumstances and appreciates the solution we offer as an alternative. Of course, this virtual form of getting to know one another is no substitute for personal contact and networking at our headquarters in Saarbrücken. Nevertheless, we want to offer our newcomers the best possible onboarding even in these difficult times, to help them quickly orient themselves at Scheer and develop a comprehensive, interdisciplinary network. Our Digital Welcome Days have achieved this very nicely, and underscore the “digital spirit” of our corporate culture.

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