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Virtual 'Welcome A-board' Is Another First For #OneAboitiz

By Michelle Guerrero

“First impressions are everything. How you welcome a new hire and usher them into your company will have an enormous impact on how engaged they are and how quickly they reach their full potential and productivity.”

– Bruce Anderson, Writer/Editor, LinkedIn

A team member’s impression on a new company is identified as one of the many “moments that matter” in one’s career (Moore, 2019) and they consist of events that create a significant  impact on an employee’s organizational experience.

Understanding the moments that matter to employees, rather than to HR or to leaders, enable the organization to take action on improving employee experience. Since the onboarding program sets the tone on how quickly a new team member can be engaged in the company, it makes sense to invest in creating a program that, right at the first touch point, would allow our team members to feel that they chose the right company to build their future in.

At the Aboitiz Corporate Center, the HR team designed ways to make the onboarding program as personalized and as seamless as possible – these include conducting face-to-face orientations with HR, having a New Hire Kit (with an accompanying welcome message from their team) waiting for them at their station, arranging an Agile Workplace Tour with the AEV TechGroup, and coordinating with their team for welcome lunches. It is easy to make someone feel welcome through physical and/or tangible presence.

Similarly, it is easier to address any difficulties, FAQs, or need for technical support, when you can simply approach the person you need at the other end of the floor. Work-wise, this was one of the many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 and Enhanced Community Quarantine — relying solely on technology, how can we make a team member’s onboarding experience effective, engaging, personalized, and impactful?

Information Dissemination and Documentation

One of the first few things that must be settled during onboarding is the standard HR documentation. Essential information such as the Aboitiz Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, Non-Disclosure Agreement, and Privacy Statement and Consent Form must immediately be cascaded to and acknowledged by new hires to set the basic ground rules of the company, as well as our policies on safeguarding both their personal and the company's information.

During normal operations, these documents are printed, discussed, and signed on the first day of reporting to work. The HR Team maximized the power of the GSuite by creating onboarding Google Drives for easy access to these essential files. When someone experiences software difficulty, our IT Service Desk team was quick to give assistance.

File sharing and establishing document repositories have proven to be convenient for Aboitiz team members. Notably, the HR Retention Team was also able to collaborate with UnionBank to activate new ATM cards in time for the next payroll. Admittedly, new hire onboarding is a document-heavy event and for this process to be executed completely through digital means demonstrates the Aboitiz Group's digital transformation maturity. It also indicates the potential of eventually going paperless in the future.

Similar to approaching someone for assistance from across the room, different communication channels used in the Group (e.g. AGORA, Google Meet, etc.) allow A-People to send and receive information, raise inquiries, request for assistance, and be attended to, as if your colleague is just in the same room as you are in.

Getting The Most From Orientation

When a new team member reports on their Day 1, HR holds a 'Welcome A-board' and a benefits orientation to give them an overview of the culture, processes, and systems in Aboitiz.

There is also a monthly New Hire Orientation (NHO) led by Virg Banaag from the HR Retention Team conducts a  for a more comprehensive acculturation. In the NHO sessions,  Judd Salas, Assistant Vice President for Investor Relations, is consistently invited to give the new team members an overview of investment opportunities in Aboitiz.

Through Google Meet and Zoom apps, the new hires were still given these comprehensive orientations. For the very first virtual NHO session via Zoom, Virg was still able to invite Judd as a guest speaker.

Another innovation Virg introduced was MentiMeter, a website to get real time feedback from the audience on the presentations.

The virtual experience was very productive and fun. Specifically, finding a way for us to experience the same, given the limitations, shows how Aboitiz is willing to find ways to show its care for its people. I also liked the use of virtual websites like MentiMeter to make it even more fun.

– Ralph Suarez, Corporate Finance Officer

Welcome A-board with the President & CEO

On a quarterly basis, Group HR’s Performance and Engagement Team conducts Welcome Aboard with SMA, a meet-and-greet where new A-People have an exclusive eaudience with the President & CEO. It is also an avenue for the new Team Members to get to know their fellow newbies in the Group.

The virtual meeting began with a gamified getting-to-know you activity conducted by Corporate HR’s Engagement and Communications Team, Gia Mendoza and Erika Tan. After the new hires have warmed up, SMA gave an overview of the Aboitiz’s business and how the Group has been responding to the COVID-19 crisis. With signature candor, he then proceeded to answering questions, which ranged from the business-specific to how he keeps level-headed amidst the crisis to something as casual as his go-to karaoke song.

The onboarding with SMA is really empowering. Considering his position, he can still be as open as your friend. He didn’t hesitate to speak his mind on the questions thrown at him, and you can tell that the Aboitiz value is really in his DNA. It was awesome, it made me realize that the core guys of Aboitiz really possess the Aboitiz values.

– Mike Fernandez, IT Security Officer

New Hire Engagement

AEV Engagement and Communications team's frequent and consistent digital check-ins with new team members ensured that gaps are compensated by virtual assimilation into the organization. For example, AGORA enabled them to stay updated on announcements, events, and learning sessions, with opportunities to take part in events to supplement the work-from-home arrangement such as #LearningLunes sessions, a Meditation Class, and the Mental Health Talk. AGORA also served as an avenue to get to know team members outside one's own teams and take in a wider view of the Aboitiz culture.

Agora is like a 24/7 (professional) party. It felt like everyone is there all the time. It actually helped me connect with some colleagues in the organization. It keeps me posted as well about what's happening in the org and what new things we can look forward to. Agora is a manifestation that Aboitiz is a one big family.

– Marc Alejo, Corporate External Relations Manager

Moving Forward In The New Normal

The COVID-19 crisis showed the organization’s capability to stay productive, engaged, and focused towards its Group Purpose to drive change for a better world. With the exemplary leadership, team members were quick to follow suit and — no matter what function they are in — maximized the vast digital resources on hand to be able to deliver their key responsibilities. A community-driven event, the various Corporate Strategic Units (CSUs) and HR pillars involved in the new hires’ onboarding ensured that physical distance will not be a hindrance to making it the best experience possible.

As a way to anticipate the “new normal”, it is timely that the HR team is developing an onboarding module, as part of the MyTX project through which future onboarders can expect a more seamless, informative, and comprehensive process that can be accessed through AEV’s new talent portal. With this innovation, the team aims to strengthen AEV’s onboarding experience, and, as one of the moments that matter, make the Team Members’ very first touchpoint in Aboitiz as relevant and as impactful as possible.

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