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EQUITY - NOT JUST EQUALITY - MUST DRIVE ONBOARDING

In our new world of work, we must adopt a one-size-fits-one approach.

Onboarding is one of the most important workplace practices to get new joiners fully integrated into our world of work. It is also, unfortunately, one of the areas people leads most grapple with in our new hybrid reality.


The greatest challenge lies in trying to translate what is inherently a very human, very personable endeavour – cultivating a sense of belonging and inclusion – into a digital experience.


Teams and other online video sessions come with their own built-in stressors, even for the most digitally savvy among us.

They favour spectating, as opposed to participating. And even when moderators or team leaders are very deliberate about giving everyone equal voice, the format necessarily means everyone speaks and participates in a very orderly, structured and – inevitably – a very unspontaneous way.


This may be a positive in formal meetings with set agenda items, but when it comes to onboarding, it often removes the humanness that sits at the heart of belonging and integration.


Digital barriers are only one part of the story, however.


In a 100% remote environment, line managers must necessarily scrap many – if not most – of the practices and rituals that were designed for on-site immersion, and start from scratch by designing new, digitally enabled onboarding practices.


However, the vast majority of institutions around the world are migrating into a hybrid environment which will see – for the foreseeable future – a fluid blend of on-site, fully remote and partially remote workers.


In the same way that there is simply no one-size-fits-all approach to work anymore, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding. This means we must design differentiated approaches for our people based on individual circumstances:


A one-size-fits-one approach.

To ensure that our new hybrid practices still achieve the 4Is of onboarding – introduction, integration, immersion and independence – we need to relook at the equality-equity model, as illustrated below.

What this image powerfully shows is that giving people the same tools and resources does not guarantee they will have the same experience.


This design-for-equity principle should be applied to all our people practices, but it is especially important in areas such as onboarding, where the initial experience of inclusion and belonging is an important predictor of future engagement and long-term success.


The secondary image below further illustrates the importance of adopting an equity mindset to ensure that we create experiences that are equitable from a diversity perspective.


The key takeaway is that we have to start thinking differently about the lived experience of our people practices. That requires empathy, creativity, adaptability – and a deep commitment to adopting an equity mindset.




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