Directly from campus to WFH: How are the first-time employees coping up

With the remote working scenario having lasted for over a year now, many freshers who have entered the workforce for the first time, are yearning to see their office and meet their colleagues physically

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Companies now have a new breed of workers who probably have been working from home ever since they started their work life, and many of them are a year old now.

For any person or a professional, the transition from campus to the first job brings in a lot of excitement. There is a thrill of starting a new life, bonding with colleagues, commuting to office, experiencing the facilities. They have not had a chance to create any exciting memories of their workplace. Deprived of conversations, challenges, celebrations and team gatherings, this crop has missed out on a lot.

Since they have not had a chance to experience and taste the work culture at all, nor meet their team members and team leads in person, it is difficult for them to feel comfortable, sustain themselves and be productive. In fact their challenges at work are quite different from other employees. Because the personal rapport is missing, the new joinees are reluctant to seek help from their seniors, bosses or colleagues, when they face some hiccups at work.

A senior HR leader from a large online gaming company, on condition of anonymity, revealed to HRKatha that most of the freshers hired in the pre-lockdown period have left the firm disgruntled.

After all, there is a world of difference between interacting with someone virtually and meeting someone in person. However, given the limitations of the current scenario, organisations have tried to do their best, in their own unique ways.

“In today’s circumstances, we believe in promoting inclusivity amongst team members who are working remotely, as this way they will feel the connect, and experience a feeling of being together and working together.”

Sailesh Menezes, senior director and head of human resource, HPE India

HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise) believes that even if the newly joined employees have not seen the office or met their team members, it is important for them to feel connected with the Company, when they are introduced to the culture of the firm. Such practices, even though followed virtually, keep the link alive and ensure that team members stay connected.

This is why HPE has created a team of volunteers who are known as ‘culture catalysts,’ and this tea, organises virtual events in line with the culture of the organisation. These events embody the values and culture of the Company.

In one such event called ‘Team member appreciation day,’ all employees appreciate each other, as appreciation of colleagues is an integral part of the HPE culture. This event was conducted globally, via virtual tools, and was a massive success.

“In today’s circumstances, we believe in promoting inclusivity amongst team members who are working remotely, as this way they will feel the connect, and experience a feeling of being together and working together,” says Sailesh Menezes, senior director and head of human resource, HPE India.

“The battle to fully integrate employees into the social fabric of the company is on. We are experimenting with different initiatives to help employees develop social connect, which is so vital for workplace effectiveness.”

Satyajit Mohanty, CHRO, Crompton Electricals

Companies, in fact, are doing all they can to keep the engagement quotient up for the new joinees.

An HR head of a mid-sized global IT Infrastructure company based out of Pune in India, acknowledges the problem and shares how his company had launched an initiative, ‘Missing the office’ which saw teams preparing a video, including pictures that showed how the company used to celebrate some key festivals, such as Holi and New Year. These videos gave the new joinees a peek into the organisation’s activities and practices, and refreshed the memories of old employees.

The company also took small steps to integrate new joinees with the workforce. It encourages its employees to keep their videos on during virtual meetings with their colleagues and team members so that everyone can put a face to the voice they are hearing, which is crucial to establishing a connect.

IBS Software, the tech firm, organised a surprise virtual music festival called ‘LiveWire’. It had 16 musicians from IBS Software performing, with their CEO himself strumming the guitar with the band. They played all sorts of songs and in different languages, such as English, Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil. The event took all the employees by surprise as nobody had any clue that such an event was brewing.

“Freshers may have read about business operations and the challenges it brings theoretically but working virtually, they may have not experienced it on ground or practically.”

Rajeev Singh, CHRO, Yokohama Off-Highway Tires

Not just the one-off events, companies are also doing regular activities to keep the workforce engaged.

At Sony Pictures, ever since the lockdown last year, the department heads follow a practice of calling their team members daily, even if it is just to say ‘hi’. This is to ensure that employees feel the connection with their office and are aware that their employers are concerned about them. Also, the HR team members try to replicate their impromptu office ‘floor walks’ by virtually connecting with employees to check whether everything is ok with them and their families.

Crompton Electricals also conducts a virtual meet called ‘Chai-Pe-Charcha’ where all managers meet their team members and have a chat with them.

At the Pune based mid-sized global IT Infrastructure company whenever a new employee joins, the HR head himself, along with the company’s MD meets all of them virtually. A few months later, they meet again to check and take feedback on their experience so far. The new joinees are allowed to field all kinds of questions. These queries can be related to anything and everything, and therefore, a level of transparency is successfully created.

“For us, creating transparency has always been the key to enhancing employee connect with the organisation,” says the HR Head.

Rajiv Singh, CHRO, Yokohama Off-Highway Tires, opines, “The onboarding process is the first stage where the organisation and the employee start to know each other. Now, with the virtual onboarding process, it takes a lot for the HR team and the employee to go through the process and understand each other.”

Apart from engagement, new joinees also face problems in day to day work. Freshers feel challenged, while understanding the challenges and nuances of your role. “These people may have read about business operations and the challenges it brings theoretically but working virtually, they may have not experienced it on ground or practically.” Singh says

This is why it is important to gauge the employee mood regularly. Crompton Electricals, for instance, tracks employee sentiments in real time with an AI-powered employee-engagement tool.

Satyajit Mohanty, CHRO, Crompton Electricals, says, “The battle to fully integrate employees into the social fabric of the company is on. We are experimenting with different initiatives to help employees develop social connect, which is so vital for workplace effectiveness.”

Mohanty also shares a feedback of one of the employees at Crompton Electricals who joined the company a few months back. He says, “I was very apprehensive about joining. It was wonderful to experience such a smooth onboarding and assimilation process.”

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