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Keeping the ball rolling: Getting new starters up to speed with a strategic approach to digital adoption

By Rafael Sweary, President and Co-Founder, WalkMe

In the midst of the Great Resignation and pandemic, headlines sounded the alarm that record numbers of UK workers were quitting their jobs. Things were so serious in the UK that some 85% of businesses claim to have been affected. The government has even felt the need to take action to keep some public services moving: The Department of Education asked recently-retired teachers to come back to work during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although we live in a time when companies can rent a robot worker for less than paying a human, countless jobs will always require human interaction, meaning technology cannot simply ‘fill in’ for missing swathes of the workforce during this crisis.

Losing experienced workers poses two massive problems for businesses. As well as reducing the top line headcount, it also means there have been fewer wise experienced heads to help with the induction process when new recruits come through the door, and to train them on specific programmes. Even if they were not involved in formal onboarding programmes, these experienced team members often provide more ad-hoc advice to new starters which can prove crucial over the first days and weeks as they get their feet under the table. This has compounded the fundamental problem many organisations face: how can we get new hires and temporary workers up to speed as quickly and easily as possible?

Navigating the labyrinth

It shouldn’t be underestimated just how daunting company IT systems can be for new recruits – and how much this slows down onboarding. Workplace IT is becoming increasingly complex as layer upon layer of software is added over time, and for new starters, navigating a path around these systems can be very tricky. The programmes or apps used by one company may be completely alien to somebody who came from another firm in the very same industry.

Even if they build a broad understanding of the labyrinth, it can be hard for new starters to figure out which parts of it relate to the job they need to do. If they’re left to their own devices and try to use the training functions provided by each piece of software, it will take a long time for new starters to get going, not to mention the internal resources required to provide that training.

This could be a huge waste of time and resources – for example, company time would be wasted if a temporary customer service representative is trained on how every single piece of software in the organisation works only to leave the company after a few months. This would also hold the individual back from getting on with the job at hand, and overloading her with information could also increase the risk of making mistakes. If the worker is only there on a temporary basis, is it really beneficial for her to have more than a light introduction to core software?

Of course, onboarding should still be thorough: that’s as true as ever. But in an era of short-staffing and temporary contracts, it should also be as fast and targeted as possible. Businesses need an onboarding process that shows employees everything they need, so they can be productive from the get-go.

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Onboarding is an ongoing process

Businesses need to take control by finding a way to give a customised introduction to new employees, making it personalised to programmes and scenarios they will encounter on a day-to-day basis. Digital adoption platforms (DAPS) can help to this end, giving a centralised guide to employees, and offering tips and information directly on the screen based on the way they are using software and their current job role. Rather than having to teach new staff how to use every digital tool in the organisations, DAPs guide them on how to use only the functions they need to do their jobs, cutting out the unnecessary information and enabling them to learn as they go.

Businesses don’t just need to consider new hires as part of this: there will always be new pieces of technology or software updates for employees to come to terms with. This is a big issue within many organisations, with Gartner reporting that 60% of employees experience frustration with new software. If businesses invest in new technology but don’t show employees how to use it, there can be no guarantees it will have the impact they had hoped for.

This doesn’t just have an internal impact either – an employee’s use of technology can directly impact the customer experience. Returning to the example of the customer service representative, by helping a temporary team member quickly get to grips with a key CRM system, they can be confident customers will be given what they ask for. On the other hand, if this temporary member of staff has been overwhelmed with information about software that’s irrelevant for their role, they may forget how the most crucial booking programme works, and make a mistake, giving a negative experience to a customer.

A strategy for success

The bottom line is that there are serious ramifications for organisations that don’t take digital adoption seriously enough. According to Workfront’s 2021 State of Work report, half of the UK workforce would leave their job due to frustrations with technology. This figure is up from 33% before the pandemic, reflecting the increasingly central role technology plays in many people’s working lives with the rise of remote and hybrid working. This risk of further resignations would mean even more company time spent finding new recruits, draining resources at a time when businesses are already understaffed.

If you couple this with the likelihood of temporary workers and new hires being slow and making mistakes when they first start, technology onboarding has never been more important in the short-, medium-, and long-term. Now’s the time to put a proper strategy in place, removing the headaches and making sure each worker is empowered to use technology to complete the job at hand.

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