Deloitte Australia’s head of talent insight talks reward and recognition in a remote world

How should you reward employees in a remote working model?

Deloitte Australia’s head of talent insight talks reward and recognition in a remote world

Flexible working – it’s the topic on every HR professionals mind.

As we debate and discuss what the future of work looks like, it’s clear the global pandemic has shifted traditional thinking forever.

With a renewed focus on reimagining the where, when and how employees carry out their work, forward-thinking businesses have vowed to step into the future – but that brings its own challenges.

HRD spoke to Deloitte Australia’s head of talent insight & solutions, Breckon Jones, who explained how virtual reality is shaping the onboarding process for their remote workforce.

Deloitte welcomed a cohort of 900 graduates earlier this year, but within the space of a few weeks, the government advice sparked a sudden shift to working from home.

“It was a challenging experience for them,” Jones said. “We know from research that Millennials and Gen Z say they feel under pressure most of the time.

“So, we were having to help them build resilience in a virtual workplace without that high touch face-to-face experience we’d usually give them.”

Upgrading Deloitte’s onboarding process was already a priority for 2020 but the pandemic forced them to roll out the new program en masse.

By harnessing the use of innovative technology, Deloitte focused on building a virtual experience that could mirror the face-to-face involvement of a pre-pandemic era.

Read more: Domain's head of employee experience on helping staff through COVID-19

“Onboarding is one of the top priorities for new hires as it’s their first taste of what’s to come,” Jones said.

“Our process was okay but it was outdated and we were still using paper based forms.

“We brought in some new tech that was mobile friendly and it meant we could give them a consumer grade experience.”

Where graduates would once be flown in to complete their onboarding at the Deloitte Academy, border closures forced a rethink of the process.

When opportunities for group collaboration, interaction and networking don’t happen naturally from the comfort of our homes, how do you factor those in?

Virtual reality offered a high-spec alternative – think Sims but for the workplace – complete with their own avatar to interact and get to know new colleagues.

A virtual assistant chatbot also enabled Deloitte to pinpoint the particular issues graduates were struggling with and inform their onboarding process as it continually evolved.

But it’s not just onboarding that has seen a dramatic shift as a result of the pandemic.

Jones said another priority for Deloitte this year was the launch of a new large-scale employee recognition program, aiming to highlight the power of appreciation and giving back.

Read more: Is virtual onboarding here to stay? How to support new staff in a remote world

Working against the tough economic climate of the pandemic, peer-to-peer recognition quickly became an indispensable tool for employee engagement.

“It’s immensely good for team cohesion and wellbeing for people to say thank you and show appreciation, recognition, and celebrate achievement,” Jones said.

“It’s a way to galvanize teams and help them build resilience under these harsh and changing conditions.

 “It’s not just about recognition, but about a broader awareness that your career still continues despite the climate we’re in.”

As global job uncertainty forced people to question their careers and their work/life balance, some workers have felt inspired to make big life changes.

Whether it involved relocating or an entirely new career, the importance of our jobs beyond paying the bills has never been more apparent.

Jones said it’s a shift they’ve witnessed at Deloitte – and one that is central to the new ideas around reward and recognition.

“Our employees tell us they want purpose and meaning, alongside a paycheck and rewarding careers,” he said.

“People value purpose over profit and they expect Deloitte to continue to reflect that.

“COVID-19 and working from home brought about a greater emphasis on individual responsibility and it has made us all more empathetic.”

This sense of giving back to the communities they serve has continued to be a central theme at Deloitte, despite interstate border closures.

As the firm looks to continue a hybrid-model of work going into 2021, keeping employees engaged in a remote environment will be an ongoing focus.

“For us, we still need to go client sites, our employees are still highly collaborative but our way to working will be more flexible than we’ve ever been before,” Jones said.

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