Starting a new job is always a big change and an exciting time, and effective onboarding makes things a lot easier for people joining a new working community. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us all to re-evaluate what kind of support new employees would need when onboarding shifted from being a face-to-face process to an online one. In this article, Lévi Dovillaire, who joined Valmet in spring 2020, shares his experiences of our new normal.
Lévi Dovillaire started work as a Senior Paper Technology Manager at Valmet’s Prague office in the Czech Republic in May 2020, when COVID restrictions meant many of us were already working away from the office . “I was already used to working from home, so remote work and an unusual onboarding didn’t come as too big a surprise,” he says. During his first days at Valmet he only went to the office to pick up his computer and other necessary tools to work from home. His onboarding sessions with colleagues in the Czech Republic, Finland and Germany were moved online – and then of course there were the travel restrictions. “I would normally be traveling 50% of my working time, but by spring 2021 I had only made three trips to customer plants,” Lévi explains.
Levi appreciates Valmet's culture and his colleagues, and feels that they have played a big part in making his onboarding process a successful one. In particular, he appreciates the autonomy and the high level of trust in his team, and the proactive approach to seeking solutions that his teammates have. “There isn’t a micromanagement culture here, it is more a coaching culture, which empowers me,” Lévi explains. “Getting to know people is harder in a pandemic, but it’s essential to make personal connections with colleagues. This is why introductory calls and regular online meetings with relevant people – with videos on whenever possible – are a key element of successful remote onboarding.” He goes on to point out that informal coffee breaks are a good way to enhance the sense of belonging in the team and to brainstorm new ideas.
All Valmet managers and new employees can take advantage of a detailed onboarding guide and online training courses to support the integration process and help all new faces to learn about Valmet’s business and strategy and understand how it applies to their own work.
“During my first month at Valmet I found onboarding meetings with my new colleagues particularly important as a way to get to know people. Having all the general information about employment matters available online was also a big help as everything was clear for me,” Levi highlights.
While the global pandemic has thrown up hurdle after hurdle for new-employee onboarding, it has also been an opportunity to reevaluate the process of welcoming new faces to the team and innovate new ways of working. “At Valmet we see the importance of on-boarding in employee engagement and higher employee retention rates when we offer a great onboarding program. We believe that proper onboarding will increase new hire productivity, engagement and longevity,” says Riina Niemi, HR Director, EMEA.