Onboarding, Motivating & Promoting Remotely: Global Best Practice in 2021

June 22, 2021 Share this article:

On Friday 11 June 2021, AltoPartners hosted a global webinar focusing on “Onboarding, Motivating & Promoting Remotely: Global Best Practice in 2021” with Mpho Nkeli, Director at Search Partners International / AltoPartners South Africa, as moderator, featuring expert insights from Petter Fafalios, Managing Partner at Kingbird / AltoPartners Norway, Simeon Fowler, Founder & CEO at Fowler Fox & Co / AltoPartners Hong Kong and Santiago Solia Arias, General Manager Bogotá office at Executive Connection / AltoPartners Colombia.

In a time of corporate uncertainty when the majority of the global workforce are still working remotely and many teams have had to engage via digital platforms, leaders are faced with these crucial issues:

  1. How are leaders keeping teams motivated and engaged while ensuring employee mental well-being and maintaining productivity (and profitability)?

  2. How are leaders onboarding new employees while teams work remotely? Is the onboarding process more important and how has it changed?

  3. How are leaders identifying top talent and how do they work with HR to promote these individuals? Has the promotion process had to change?

Our global experts reflected on the topics of onboarding, enployee engagement and promoting and provided best prcatice examples from their local markets.

Panelists received specific questions from the audience, including:

  • Are we going to see an era where performance is more important than culture with people working remotely?

Petter Fafalios response

Since culture can’t be developed to it’s full potential without people interacting pysically - the operational answer to this question depends on the balance between on-site and remote working as the new normality sets in.

Remotely working resources will inevitably be measured on their actual performance. But the ability to attract the best candidates in the market, will still be heavily dependent on the company’s ability to foster and display an attractive culture.

  • Are we going to see a move towards less people management and more project management over time?

Petter Fafalios reponse

In the “old normality” managers were largely in the same location as their resources and it was relatively easy to interact and observe on delivery of basic targets. Given this ability, it was naturally easier to focus more on people management after making sure that the core deliverables were in place.

Preventive measures during the pandemic took away the physical interaction on a massive scale and replaced it with anxiety about the future. As a consequence of uncertainty, we can see signs of a trend where management focus is moving towards less people management and more project management.

Securing profit for maintained operation in the transformation towards a new normality is a priority. But it is also essential to enable leaders to re-establish psychological safety as a basic hierarchical need for maintaining engagement and high performance.

  • Do you believe companies are investing more in onboarding practices that include team building and culture building or is the initial focus just on “business processes”?

Santiago Solia Arias response

Team building and culture building are processes that mostly take place after the onboarding process. In fact, both team building and culture building involve many employees from the organization, on the other hand, onboarding is being implemented on an individual basis. In terms of onboarding investment, companies are now more worried about the rapid employee productivity. Therefore, they are helping the employees to understand not only what is going on inside the organization, but also what is happening with clients and other external stakeholders. The cost for this process has been reduced thanks to virtual tools such as video conferences.

  • Do you see companies investing more into future activities to help maintain that initial employee experience after they have been with the company for a while?

Santiago Solia Arias response

After the onboarding is completed, companies are investing significant amounts of resources to continue with the capacitation of their employees. Now courses and technical training is being done with the help of virtual tools, reducing the cost of those processes.

  • Diversity and onboarding - are you seeing companies focusing more on helping build feelings of inclusion?

Santiago Solia Arias response

This has been a concern in many companies from our region, however, we still need to build a more aggressive onboarding strategy to see tangible results in terms of diversity and inclusion in the Latin American organizations.

  • Are we going to see a shift from permanent work to contract work where employees sell their expertise to multiple companies?

Simeon Fowler response

We are not seeing a marked shift to contact work in the financial services sector where I specialise but I can see there could be a shift in other sectors. Businesses that get this balance right will drive engagement, achieve organisational agility, maintain alignment and empower teamwork across all disciplines and locations. They will have a competitive advantage in this new era of work. In the near future, some organisations will adopt a hybrid-work model, with certain days in the office and others remote, and might align employees’ in-office and remote schedules to create equity. Other companies will use video communications to be completely remote. Both models will enjoy increased productivity and deeper collaboration, and the ability to attract a more diverse workforce.

  • How can companies avoid being seen as discriminatory during “remote” performance appraisals and promotions?

Simeon Fowler response

Companies need to be able to clearly demonstrate that they have gone the extra mile in terms of the assessment process, those employees that have gone into the office and those that have not must be assessed and treated equally in any performance review. Managers and HR need to ensure that they are measuring staff performance in unified fashion to ensure there are not discriminatory issues. Managers are going to have to work harder to spot the workers who are making a real effort especially those at home. Leaders who are really hoping to make a difference in their businesses will have to be able to spot the talented employees who are making a bigger contribution.

You can view the full video recording from the webinar here.