Shreyas Kulkarni

As digital onboarding becomes an everyday thing, the ‘welcome kit’ photo has become de rigueur

LinkedIn is flooded with such snaps; we take a look at it and the world of online inductions and the first few days at work in today’s world.

Gone are the days when photographs outside an office building or a corporate skyscraper would announce your friend’s or colleague’s new work digs. Today, a photograph of a welcome kit from their home makes that announcement.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way companies onboard talent. A year and a few months ago, you would visit the office where an HR exec would meet you first, explain the world of your new company, make you fill all the forms and sign all the dotted lines, and then hand over to you the famed welcome kit: a goodie bag of sorts that baptised your entry into the office. Today, all these things are a from-home exercise.

In the past year, this welcome kit has gained tremendous value. It is, after all, the only physical link to your new office. In a world where there is no handshakes, no first coffee or smoke breaks with that colleague you mustered the courage to speak to, no office chair and table, this kit is a prized possession.

Tata Steel

It is then no wonder to see so many shots of these kits online. Just search ‘welcome kit/joining kit’ on LinkedIn and you’ll see a ton of them pop up. It might appear the professional networking platform is to these kits what Pinterest is to home decor.

“We have a quarterly edit not only for the welcome kits but also for confirmation kits,” says Shubhdeep Majumdar, a senior human resource executive at Pacific Global Solutions, an Ahmedabad-based Knowledge Processing Outsourcing (KPO) company.

Shubhdeep Majumdar
Shubhdeep Majumdar

“The joining kit contains a diary, a company pen, and a mug which is given to you on your joining day. After you receive the confirmation letter after clearing the probation period, you receive your confirmation kit that has a T-shirt and a company bag,” reveals Majumdar.

The contents of the kits are fun to guess and it reminds me of the ‘Koffee Hamper’ from ‘Koffee with Karan’.

While India did open for a few months last year (2020) before going back into lockdown (most Indian states are in some form of lockdown right now) companies do face a challenge to ensure their new talent receives their kits before or on their first day.

For Majumdar who works out of his company’s Mumbai office (now everyone works from home), they used to ask a new employee to visit the office premises to collect his/her desktop (most folks in Mumbai are assigned a desktop) and the welcome kit. These newcomers were emailed a legal letter that explained why they were travelling. “The local police had acknowledged it,” assures the senior HR exec.

He went on to reveal that they’d not faced any issue from the vendor they go to for these kits. “If we expect 80 people to join in a quarter, we’d order 100 kits and there have been no delays in receiving them,” he remarks.

The first few days

For Jigal Bhanushali, social media head, (he joined the business news website six months ago), the online hiring process feels like “a shot in the dark because the chances of you missing out is a lot - You get a feel of people when they are in front of you, you see their body language, how confident they are... It's very different online.”

Jigal Bhanushali
Jigal Bhanushali

And speaking about the boss-subordinate relationship, he told us it’s changed quite a bit because you can no longer sit down with a newcomer on day one and take him/her through the processes and “there is only so much you can do on a voice or video call.”

Digital inductions and ensuring new talent absorb company culture is tough but employers are doing their best to ensure newcomers get the best online experience in their first few days, especially freshers and interns who’re entering the workforce when it is facing its biggest churn since the industrial revolution.

Rajesh Sahay
Rajesh Sahay

Rajesh Sahay, Senior Vice President & Head – HR, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting said, “Employees are onboarded virtually. However, we follow the same process of ensuring they get to meet the leadership and interact virtually. We also introduce them to new employees senior batch mates from their institutions who are with us. We also assign them mentors who can help them by being familiar with the organisation, people, and jobs. The HR team also has regular discussions to assess how well they are assimilated into the organisation and what additional support they may need.”

As per a PepsiCo spokesperson, "Given the unprecedented times we are living in, PepsiCo India is running its entire summer internship program virtually. We understand how important this is for interns as it’s their first step into the corporate world and therefore our intent is to make it as seamless as possible.”

“From personalised branded kits to product portfolio baskets and now safety kits encapsulating sanitisers, wipes, masks, etc are sent to their homes. Pre-engagement and introduction sessions are done before we start the internship process officially to make them comfortable from day one. In addition, sessions with the leadership team and deep dive into brand history are scheduled.”

“They are also given assignments to work closely with the brand teams and are considered to be an integral part of the team. PepsiCo India also assigns the interns, senior leaders, as mentors throughout the program and more often than not these mentorships continue long after the internships end,” added the spokesperson.

All the images have been sourced from LinkedIn.