New graduates are preparing to enter the world of post-graduate employment for the first time. But, unlike previous years, they’re doing it in unique circumstances. Not only did many spend their final months of university learning remotely, but they also now face the prospect of being remotely trained and integrated into their new workplace. This has resulted in 82% of 2020 graduates feeling disconnected from employers and 83% lacking in motivation, according to a survey by Prospects.
One upside is that with each new cohort of graduates comes a better understanding of technology. They’ve grown up with technology, using it daily throughout their lives. In fact, the current crops of Generation Z university-leavers are commonly known as “digital natives”. They’re at the forefront of new tech, with the latest smartphones and tablets. Digital isn’t new to them. Despite this, the prospect of beginning their chosen career remotely may still be a daunting one.
Equally, integrating new employees into your business remotely presents challenges. If you train graduates by having them shadow senior employees in the office or on-site, that might not be possible. Here, digital signage solutions specialist Exterity delves into how you can use digital training methods to ensure you can onboard graduate employees easily.
Most new employees will have a schedule of inductions with their manager, team, and various departments in your business. This gives them a full picture of what your business, and each department, does. Even if your graduate employee has secured a role in marketing, knowing what the finance team does will allow them to understand how teams work together.
For office-based graduate employees, there’s an easy path to digital induction. Tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom offer a simple way to organise remote introductions and training. After all, it’s likely that your graduate employees are already familiar with these tools – between February and June 2020, Microsoft Teams and Zoom usage grew by 894% and 677% respectively.
These tools allow you to deliver presentations to your fellow call attendees, replicating the feeling of in-person inductions. They can be delivered in groups or in single sessions, depending on how many graduate trainees you’re onboarding at one time.
Job shadowing is a critical element of training for a lot of companies. This is particularly important when integrating graduates and young people who are in the first stage of their career. Shadowing allows new employees to see how their department and the role they’ve secured works in the real world. They’ll also have an unrivalled opportunity to learn about the company and its processes.
This is especially valuable to the current cohort of graduates. Over a quarter lost their final-year internship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, robbing them of valuable on-the-job learning. While some key worker roles will allow for in-person shadowing, it may be out of the question for many roles. But there are ways around it.
One of the most effective ways to get to know a job or department is to attend the meetings of the person in this role. For graduates in customer-facing roles, bringing them into client calls will help them understand how your business interacts with customers and how you deliver excellent customer service. If your back-office staff are all working remotely, these meetings will likely be happening online. Ensure your graduate inductees are on the attendee lists and encourage them to take notes and ask questions.
While it may not be exactly the same as in-person training, digital observational shadowing can still be an effective learning tool for office-based graduates. They can shadow employees carrying out a number of tasks via Teams or Zoom, such as adding a new business lead to CRM or updating content on the company website.
While your new graduate employees might have studied a degree in the role of their choice, it’s likely their learning isn’t 100% complete. There are a wealth of online training options available, including pre-existing courses created and delivered by market-leading expert organisations. For example, HubSpot has many free courses, including content marketing, search engine optimisation, and more. These courses will supplement your inductees’ existing qualifications.
In-house training can also be delivered online. Whether you pre-record videos and put them together to form a course or you deliver real-time training via video chat, you can ensure your graduates are taught your company’s key processes and are trained in the systems and tools they’ll be using in their day-to-day role.
Online learning is proven to be effective, with an IBM study finding people learnt five times more material by studying online multimedia courses compared to face-to-face learning. What’s more, thanks to advances in technology, you can provide new employees with simulated tasks. This allows them to gain critical skills in a no-risk environment. Fields including medicine are applying innovative technologies such as augmented reality to simulate medical work, evidencing the wide-reaching possibilities offered by online learning and training.
The current environment for graduates and businesses looking to onboard new employees is vastly different from what we’re used to. Graduates are being thrown into a tumultuous market with fewer prospects. Meanwhile, businesses are facing challenges in onboarding graduate talent remotely. However, with the right approach, you’ll still be able to effectively integrate new employees into your business. What’s more, the majority of the class of 2020 and 2021 falls into the “digital native” generation. They’ll expect digital as standard. If you get it right, you’ll also be able to retain the best and brightest graduates you bring on board.