Remote work can harm young people’s ability to learn, but companies can help change that.
Entering the workforce during a pandemic is not easy. The lack of a regular interview with managers and co-workers can strip younger workers of opportunities to mentor and network. After nearly two years, there is a growing feeling that telecommuting is categorically failing them. But with many back-to-office plans under way, companies have a chance to turn that around.
After graduating from college in 2020, Irene Maher did an internship in a payroll site. com, which turned into a full-time remote job as a marketing partner. The onboarding process for the company combined her in such a way that she felt connected to people throughout the company, despite only going to the office one day a week. This included regular check-ins with her supervisor, co-workers, and HR; continuous product training; daily marketing team meetings; work on multifunctional projects; And even a virtual meeting with Rateb.com CEO Kent Plunkett.
“I have a lot of opportunities to grow professionally,” Maher said. “I’m definitely in good contact with my team, which is great.”
Maher’s experience is just one example of how companies, with the right tools and creating digital resources, can make remote work truly work for their younger employees.
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Set up communication libraries and digital resources
Having onboarding systems in place has set Ratib.com to make it easier for new hires to get to work quickly, even while working from home. Not every company has a digital headquarters, which means having digital tools and platforms for a work environment from anywhere. This infrastructure can help prepare new employees to work remotely. Only 12% of US companies said they were doing a good job of onboarding, and nearly one in five employees said they were either ineffective on board or none at all, according to Gallup.
Remote work gives companies the opportunity to create a richer onboarding experience while simplifying communications, mentorship, and continuing education.
If it’s not a solid onboarding plan for the people who join the team, they can quickly get lost.
Jeremy Land, Senior Manager, Advantage Unified Commerce
Jeremy Land, senior manager at Advantage Unified Commerce, where he runs two fully remote teams with many starting during a pandemic, said. “People need to understand the company they work for and the culture. They may work in one department, but they have to understand the broader scope of other departments.”
Lande said he doesn’t assume that new employees have worked with products like the one in Google Workspace, and that they have some sort of virtual resource training for other programs. He said his company has developed a digital training library that anyone can access.
“When we do rehearsals or recordings, we upload them to a master catalog,” Landy said. “People have access to trainings with leaders or subject matter experts. There is on-demand learning from the company.”
Cameo, the app where celebrities and other high-profile people record short personal videos of people, has a similar library being developed to create a “knowledge-transfer culture,” according to Melanie Steinbach, Cameo’s chief of staff. These documents could include videos showing tips from top salespeople or ways to engage an entertainment agent to help new employees, she said.
“I describe it when we went to this remote work party and none of the tables or chairs were set up,” Steinbach said. “It’s up to us as leaders to create that and give things structure.”
Make meetings work for everyone
Part of the challenge is ensuring that no employee is left or left behind. In a virtual environment, people can get lost in large meetings.
“You have to take turns about how to allow people to be in team meetings or job meetings,” Steinbach said. “I have a different leader who leads our people team meeting every week because I want to make sure others are seen, their voices are heard, and their point of view is front and center.”
This same methodology works for younger employees as well as those who may not feel keen to speak out in a group setting. Landy said that the people he sees constantly falling behind are more introverted or may not be great self-advocates. He said that having weekly one-on-one meetings with these people can help managers stay in touch with that employee’s needs. He also said that holding smaller meetings could help.
“Someone once told me they don’t like very large meetings where not everyone can share one pizza,” Land said. “It’s about creating more intimate meetings to give these younger employees a chance to talk out loud and not worry about 10 or 20 people on the call.”
Collaboration platforms like Slack can help keep people connected and engaged in a remote work environment.
Don’t make it all about work
Collaboration platforms like Slackcan help keep people connected and engaged in a remote environment. And chatter doesn’t have to be about work. Creating channels based on interests like parenting, pets, travel, games, food — even a channel to shout shouts of great work to team members — allows people from different sides of the company to interact with one another. It also creates opportunities for company leaders to make themselves available to younger employees.
“Leaders can have open door policies on those channels to respond to anyone communicating through those platforms,” Landy said. “There is a lot to be said about what you lose by not being there in person, but there are also things to be gained. It’s a kind of balance.”
Slack also provides a Donut bot that when installed can randomly identify people within your organization. This creates more connections between the team and helps reduce the intimidation factor that can be associated with younger employees speaking with more senior team members.
“[Donut] “He picks someone up and tells them they’re going to have 30 minutes with me and I love it,” Steinbach said. “They only meet with the chief personnel officer and I’ve had really good responses to that.”
Cameo also sets up ‘Cameo Calls’, which are similar to fast working hours. Steinbach will announce she’s live on Cameo Calls and anyone can sign up for short slots to talk to her about anything without the stress of having a human resources (HR) issue that needs to be addressed.
“We need to find a way to replicate those social collisions that happen in the elevator or the cafeteria,” Steinbach said. “These are the tools we used to replicate this.”
It will be more difficult in a remote environment, but managers have to make it a priority and do it.”
Melanie Steinbach, Chief People Officer at Cameo
Commit to staying connected
To keep younger employees engaged, managers can commit to ongoing conversations about their future. It’s not just about getting successful training, it’s about continuing education and one-on-one meetings where managers discuss immediate and future hiring goals for individuals.
“The training has to be continuous,” Landy said. “It’s all about consistently providing the team with the training they need, whether on changing market trends or leadership skills.”
And while it may seem counterproductive or seem more difficult to relate in this way in a remote work environment, making that commitment can ultimately be the difference between feeling involved or being left behind.
“The most important thing a manager needs in all of this is to know that this is his responsibility,” Steinbach said. “It would be more difficult in a remote environment, but they have to make it a priority and do it.”
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