To say we are living in an age of digital disruption would be an understatement. Just over a year ago organizations were frustrating many employees with archaic “work from home” policies, technology that could not support flexible working conditions and an unwillingness to evolve as fast as companies like Google and Amazon.

One pandemic later and we now realize that some (not front line) employees have been virtual for a year in many instances; numerous new hires have been onboarded without physically meeting their co-workers and technology is evolving weekly to meet the virtual needs of organizations around the world. During this period world economies shifted, companies downsized and now organizations need employees to be productive at an even faster pace.

This means finding ways to engage in a more meaningful manner with potential employees, and, for the purposes of this article, from the time an offer is made. With an ever-increasing reliance on technology, an employee’s first experience with a company has become even more important and we have seen an emergence of current trends geared towards personalization, automation, and socialization. Research shows that companies which automate indicate an 18% greater achievement of first performance goals.

The potential employee’s first interaction with a company starts with their first “google” search when considering a role. By the time they accept an offer, they have already had their first, second and even third impression of what the company is – at least at a superficial level.

Nestlé shifted to a multi-channel approach to pre- and onboarding several years ago. Even in a virtual environment, the contact with the line manager and other influential figures like the HRBP (HR Business Partner) will not be replaced, but automation has provided the opportunity to lower the administration load, thereby enabling them to spend more time on the valuable personal connections with the potential employee.

“In a global environment, with scarce skill sets, the effective offboarding of an employee creates a potential future talent pool”

In this respect, the company uses a global pre-boarding system that enables the prospective employee to submit the their documentation, whilst gaining a first insight into some basic elements of the company, and where appropriate, the actual function/area they are joining. This process is managed by the Talent Acquisition and Employee Services team.

In parallel, the hiring manager is provided with a series of prompts regarding both pre- and onboarding activities. This includes, for example, goal setting for various milestones during the first 100 days, a reminder on probation (where applicable), recommended people to meet and scheduling of initial meetings.

During onboarding, the line manager is reminded of the major milestones. In addition, our global LMS (Learning Management System) provides curated playlists for the new joiner, which they can access virtually and in their own time. The line manager or HRBP also can create a personalized onboarding playlist, should this be needed.

In a global environment, with scarce skill sets, the effective offboarding of an employee creates a potential future talent pool. To this end, Nestlé incorporated offboarding into the same technology system, thereby providing line managers and HRBP’s with both prompts and administration support to ensure a smooth exit.

The future is not virtual, the present is already virtual. This shift means that trends like “pre-boarding” and “personalization” play an even more vital role in ensuring that the employee feels connected to the organization, the team, and their role so that employee engagement and more importantly, retention, is successful.