TJ interviews: Hyland’s Debbie Connelly

TJ talk to Debbie Connelly about a post-covid HR strategy.

How can HR departments leverage technology to alleviate the increase in demand from employees?

We’ve learned over the last year and a half how much employees value flexibility. Because we expect to see the number of employees working remotely continue to grow over the long term, it’s critical that we have technology in place that allows people to seamlessly work from anywhere and stay connected to their teams.

One example is our robust virtual onboarding program, which we’ve conducted remotely since March 2020. Through our Learning Management System we mirrored our previous in-person onboarding experience; employees have access to the relevant content they need when joining the company, but can take a more self-paced approach to consuming it.

During a time of transition that leads to myriad questions from new hires, we’ve provided them a comprehensive virtual resource to get their questions answered.

Most recently, we’re exploring the use of chatbots and other tools to help employees find information they need around any HR function – benefits, time off, return-to-work updates and more.

What has been the biggest challenge this year with onboarding new employees? Either remotely or in a hybrid environment?        

The biggest challenge we’ve had to work through is making sure employees feel connected. Working virtually causes challenges when it comes to developing relationships with new hires, which is so important to providing a great experience from Day One. The camaraderie that develops when new hires are in a classroom together for their first days and weeks can’t be replicated virtually.

We’ve combated that challenge several ways:

  • We’ve created Teams channels for each new hire class, where employees can chat back and forth sharing experiences, asking and answering questions for each other, and just creating some personal connection.
  • We’ve added quarterly wellbeing challenges for new hire groups who join within each quarter.
  • We’re collecting and analysing employee experience survey feedback and looking at how responses differ for employees hired during the pandemic to look for opportunities to improve our onboarding program.

How can organisations ensure they have the best possible practices in place to retain their top talent?

Listen. What are your employees sharing through surveys or exit interviews? Be proactive and conduct retention interviews to hear what is important to your employees, then be transparent and let employees know you are listening and acting based on their concerns.

Through those surveys and retention interviews, our employees have driven a number of initiatives over the last 18 months. They’ve been vocal about our return-to-work strategy; our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion approach and activities; our Employer Resource Group offerings; and much more.

Because they’ve been so willing and felt comfortable enough to speak freely on those topics and others, we’re a better company today despite the COVID-related challenges we’ve faced.


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