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The case for onboarding everyone again

Protocol | Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter, where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: Re-onboarding employees, the effect of NDAs on former employees, and why you have more meetings.

—Amber Burton, Reporter (twitter | email)

Should you re-onboard your employees?

The perks of hybrid work and remote work flexibility have become commonplace among tech companies. But what hasn't become common is giving existing employees time to reacclimate to their new work environments. Even the most tenured workers need to be re-onboarded and oriented. This means clearly introducing workers to processes, policies and post-pandemic expectations just as you would do with a new hire.

Employee engagement and retention platform Culture Amp says employers must think more about what it will take to get employees on the same page — and perhaps make them stick around a little bit longer — following the pandemic.

Kenneth Matos, Culture Amp's director of People Science, spoke with Protocol about why more companies should consider re-onboarding all of their employees as we move into the post-pandemic work world.

There has been a spike of interest in re-onboarding since the pandemic, said Matos.

  • As organizations slowly reopen their offices, more leaders have begun to realize they have a change management issue on their hands, Matos said. Leaders are handling an overhaul of organizational culture and processes directly on the heels of a very challenging 18 months. "Re-onboarding is one very specific reuse of an existing HR process in order to address that change management challenge."
  • New workplace tensions and concerns are abundant among existing employees. "There's a lot of just general political and social turmoil around do I wear a mask or not wear a mask? How close can I get? And many of those things are tied to the sense of culture and experience that they had [in the office]. And so there can be a lot of awkwardness and discomfort when they just don't know what is considered OK now and what's the standard for the org."

Remote employees need to to be re-onboarded in order to understand new cultural norms within an organization:

  • Employees who are primarily remote want to know, "What are the responsiveness norms? How quickly do I have to get back to you? Because often people will assume, if you're not going to respond immediately, it's because you're off doing something else rather than on a call with a different customer or colleague. And so really trying to set some norms there so people feel comfortable that the interactions they're having are being interpreted properly."
  • A lot of re-onboarding is simply about clarifying new processes. It's also about recognizing that even long-time employees will need to learn how to work in different ways. It's as though they, too, have just started at the organization, said Matos. "That can also create tension and conflict, because people are experiencing a loss of a sense of competence. Suddenly, their instincts and their past training is no longer valid."

What does re-onboarding entail, and how can it be done effectively?

  • Matos said to start by offering people the opportunity to acknowledge the change and realize the old way of doing things is over, for better or for worse. Let them mourn it and then begin to get them excited about what the new possibilities are.
  • To make it effective, he suggests companies need to centralize their messaging. "So, for some of them it is taking time to actually welcome people back … but most importantly, [explaining] where they should go to get things clarified as the onboarding experience unfolds."
  • Remember: "The best procedures are written procedures. So the more you can say, 'Here's a single source of truth, we can all read this and discuss this,' the better off they're going to be than if it's just word-of-mouth spreading to the organization."
  • Last, Matos suggested training a number of re-onboarding ambassadors to help with the transition by answering questions and explaining new processes.

Why former Facebook employees stay silent

The Facebook Papers have led many onlookers to wonder why there aren't more whistleblowers. The answer, according to one former Facebook employee, is simple: NDAs and fear. And the issue is far from isolated to Facebook. It's not rare for employees to sign non-disparagement exit agreements upon leaving a company to cut down on the possibility of such talk. Not to mention the social stigma that comes with speaking up. Former Facebook employee Samidh Chakrabarti shared: "Few firms want to hire people who they think would dare be truthful about them later on."

Read the full story.

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Today's tips & tools

Have you ever had the desire to hear a woman say "hummus" every time your coworker pings you on Slack? I didn't realize there was a "hummus"-shaped void in my life until I changed my notification sound on Monday morning. We at Protocol recently rediscovered this Slack quirk through a TikTok from October asking someone at Slack to "please explain this." It turns out "hummus" has confused and delighted Slack users since 2016.

  • Why "hummus" exists: Colleagues apparently loved the way former Slack creative director Anna Pickard says "hummus." Pickard tweeted about the feature in June 2016, claiming it was only available internally. A colleague replied that "hummus" was in fact shipped as an MP3 file in the Slack bundle. A Slack spokesperson told The Forward in December 2016 that "hummus" was recently made an easily accessible notification sound for all Slack users.
  • How to "hummus": Click your username in the top right corner of Slack and hit preferences. In the Notifications category, scroll to notification sound (messages). Hummus is the last option. When you click it, you can hear the sound for yourself. "Hummus" might not be for everyone, but it's a jarring enough sound that you'll certainly pay attention when your co-worker messages you with an urgent assignment.

Lizzy Lawrence, Reporter (twitter | email)

A MESSAGE FROM PROEDGE, A PWC PRODUCT

In order for an enterprise upskilling initiative to succeed, it's important to create a culture where learning and innovation are celebrated and encouraged. What can you do to set your organization up for learning success?

Learn more

1:1s are taking over your workday

The number of meetings workers attend each week has increased almost 70% since February 2020, according to "smart calendar" startup Reclaim.ai. So what's the silent culprit taking over most of your calendar? One-on-one meetings. But that change isn't all bad. Most of the increases in one-on-one meetings can be attributed to people seeking connection while working remotely, Reclaim.ai co-founder Henry Shapiro told my colleague Allison Levitsky. Here's what else the company found when analyzing aggregated calendar data from over 15,000 professionals.

  • As of October 2021, professionals attend about five meetings per day, making for an average of over 25 meetings per week.
  • Almost 80% of new meetings are one-on-one meetings, according to Reclaim.ai's analysis.
  • The increase has been exponential. The average professional now attends 5.6 one-on-one meetings per week. In pre-pandemic times, the average person attended 0.9 one-on-one meetings per week.
  • So just how much time are each of these one-on-one meetings taking up on the calendar? Scheduled one-on-ones typically last around 43 minutes, according to Patrick Lightbody, Reclaim.ai's co-founder.

Making moves

Local commerce platform OfferUp appointed Melinda Starbird as its chief people and diversity officer. Prior to joining the company, Starbird was VP of People and Employee Experience at identity-management platform Auth0.

Health technology provider DLH Holdings appointed G. Maliek Ferebee as chief human resources officer. Ferebee was formerly the chief human capital officer at Alion Science and Technology.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Many workers are still feeling drained when it comes to work and life. Here are a few tangible tips for dealing with burnout.

Tech workers are still in control in the job market.

You've been doing it wrong: Here's how to actually multitask while at work.

Last, in honor of Veterans Day, a few tips for creating a veteran-friendly workplace.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com. Have a great week, see you Friday.

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