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Orientation encourages new employees to learn about their organisation. It builds confidence in new joiners to adapt faster to their roles. As face-to-face onboarding has become a thing of the past due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online onboarding has become the new normal.
However, this pandemic has changed years of BRAC’s orientation structure. Now that working from home is the new normal, BRAC had to bring significant changes in the orientation programme to harmonise new joiners with the organisation and Sir Fazle’s vision. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, every newcomer at BRAC received a two-day orientation. It provided them with a brief yet in-depth insight on the organisation’s programmatic interventions. This was not possible for people who joined during the pandemic. They had to jump directly to their roles without getting a proper understanding of the organisational history, mission, and vision.
We believe that BRAC is a family, where every individual serves from their own capacities towards one goal: to stand by people who need it the most.
Keeping that in mind, BRAC’s onboarding unit has adapted to the current situation with an online orientation programme. Now, every newcomer receives a month-long orientation programme followed by a field visit. Most facilitators moderating the onboarding have 15 to 25 years of experience working with BRAC; the sessions are conducted through storytelling.
One of the most appreciated sessions of the onboarding programme is the “Legacy of Abed bhai”session. During this, facilitators share short stories about Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and their personal experiences of working with him. This session inspires newcomers to be the next generation of changemakers, by helping them align their roles with Sir Fazle’s mission and dreams.
The current month-long orientation programme is mainly for the head office-based new employees. It begins with a warm welcome from the Director of BRAC’s communications, learning and leadership development department. Following that, the participants are introduced to BRAC’s values and different flagship programmes. The onboarding unit also arranges a session with the Executive Director of BRAC to onboard everyone with the organisation’s goal. We also have an online platform “BRACIPEDIA” where participants complete a course on “BRAC Strategy” to have a clear understanding of BRAC’s delivery approach, the four programmatic pillars, and help participants understand BRAC’s development priorities. Finally, the orientation programme ends with teamwork and presentations where participants share their understanding of BRAC through this month-long journey. Additionally, the top performers receive certificates upon completion of their onboarding, which motivates them to know more about the organisation.
BRAC’s strength is its frontline staff. Their unfaltering dedication and relationship with the people they serve supports the organisation. Hence it is vital for the frontline staff to be aligned with the organisational objectives as well. Ideally, BRAC looks for soft skills when it hires its frontline staff. Since their activities majorly depend on communicating with mass people on a daily basis, BRAC tries to focus on improving their emotional intelligence through this onboarding journey. Hence, the structure of the onboarding process for frontline staff is different from the regular staff members. Besides receiving seven days of face-to-face orientation with welcome messages from the senior management of different programmes, they are assigned to shadow the area managers for a month to gather experience and learn their responsibilities first-hand.
The current orientation programme started in September 2020. Till now, BRAC has provided onboarding to 120 people in the head office and 900 as frontline staff. After completing the orientation, participants provide their feedback on their onboarding experience. These feedbacks play a crucial role in maintaining the effectiveness of the programme. Participants also build a network from the get-go, as they get involved in teamwork as part of their orientation.
New journeys can be exciting and scary at the same time. To harmonise with an organisation, we need a proper understanding of its culture, values, and what makes it unique from the others. A new joiner is not expected to learn everything about their organisation right after joining; they eventually get blended in with the organisational culture through working with peers and proper orientation.
Padmasree Chakma is a communications associate at BRAC Communications.