One of the biggest challenges of hiring remote workers is getting their onboarding right, says Elaine Coffman, regional senior vice president, human resources at Majorel North America in Valencia, California, a division of Majorel Group Luxembourg S.A., a global customer experience and business process outsourcing provider.
Coffman argues the benefits of remote work outweigh the challenges, but the new world of work does require new approaches. She spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about setting up new hires with technology, the differences between Gen Z hires and older generations, and the importance of making new hires feel supported.
What are some of the benefits and challenges you’ve seen with hiring and onboarding for a remote work environment?
Remote work has opened countless doors for both employers and employees. By far, the biggest benefit has been the expansion of the hiring pool. Without geographic limitations, companies hiring for remote work can recruit from a much broader and more diverse population. Pulling from a larger applicant pool is inherently better for both sides of the job search because it ensures the best match is made.
However, the actual hiring and onboarding process for remote work presents challenges. Companies are having to think creatively about ways to engage candidates with the initial interview and how to introduce and integrate them into their new teams remotely once hired. From a tactical perspective, setting up new employees with IT equipment is more challenging than it would be on-site because remote employees typically set up their at-home equipment themselves.
In short, every employee’s home environment is unique. For companies hiring for remote work, it’s a matter of listening to their employees and providing them with the tools and training they need to succeed remotely in their role.
Have you found these differ depending on the workforce demographic, i.e. younger generations versus older generations?
As mentioned before, tailoring your onboarding process to the needs of each employee is a crucial step to ensure each individual feels supported and prepared for their new role. Every employee has their own background and skill set that needs to be taken into account.
Onboarding remote employees is mostly consistent across demographics because everyone needs the same baseline training and equipment. Some differences arise depending on how tech-savvy an individual is and how familiar they are with remote work. These differences tend to be generational, but it depends on the individual.
Younger generations typically have more familiarity with tech and are better prepared to address IT problems on their own in their remote work location. They also are more accustomed to spending extended periods of time in front of a computer and that translates well to working remotely.
In terms of the hiring process itself, younger generations usually want to move quickly through the process, make decisions quicker, and are less tied to their previous employers. Those are just some of the trends I have noticed but again, the hiring process is always on a case-by-case basis.
Hiring the Gen Z workforce is increasingly important. What are they looking for in employment in terms of culture, benefits, etc.?
We have seen massive shifts in the workforce—employee expectations, needs and their home environments have all changed. There is a greater demand for schedule flexibility and better work-life balance. When it comes to recruiting Gen Zers, they expect those benefits.
In general, employers have been called upon to offer more—stronger support, more freedom and better compensation—to attract younger talent. Younger employees tend to prioritize these benefits above a strong internal culture or collaborative team experience. When it comes to hiring younger generations, we have found that word-of-mouth referrals are particularly effective—and we love that! It helps create a friendly, familiar work environment.
How can employers best support them in remote work?
Remote work is an exciting new possibility that provides employees with a lot of freedom and flexibility. However, it places a greater responsibility on the employee to self-manage and operate independently. Employers are tasked with setting their employees up for success in this type of environment but it’s a joint effort.
Success starts with hiring a good fit—people who are interested in and prepared to work remotely and who understand what remote work entails. Then it’s a matter of providing employees with the right equipment and making sure their remote work environment is suited for their position. For example, do they have strong WiFi, do they have a quiet place where they can answer calls—seemingly small things that are crucial.
Once they have that foundation, employers must train employees on how to use their equipment and educate them on the proper channels for asking for assistance. Emphasizing the importance of communication, with both their teams and their managers, ensures that employees stay engaged and that any issues with their onboarding can be addressed quickly.