When I interviewed at Kronos (now UKG), I was giddy about starting the onboarding process in a beautiful, downtown Indy office with a team-oriented environment. COVID shutdowns quickly made all my expectations change, but the team environment remained the same. Twelve weeks of onboarding during an incredibly large merger have come and gone, with surprises along the way. Although I haven’t met most of my co-workers (known as U Krewers), Microsoft Teams has allowed me to not feel lonely in a home office of one.
My usual work attire has changed from business casual to relaxed tops, pajama pants and slippers. Sessions in onboarding required us to have our cameras on. Showing our faces on camera during training was invaluable as I still use my camera in meetings throughout the day. I’ve noticed that customers tend to be more open and friendly when everyone shows their face during a meeting.
SURGE is the onboarding program Indy employees go through at UKG. During onboarding, our virtual instructors announced themes like hat day, teams day (go Hoosiers!!) and pet day. We’d all submit our pictures in the morning and see a PowerPoint slide of everyone’s submissions that afternoon. This was enjoyable to participate in as you got to learn more about who everyone cheers for and which furry friends have their hearts. Outside of meetings for onboarding or projects, U Krewers at the Indianapolis Tech Center schedule a variety of events to have a little fun and interact on a more personal level. A few were holiday-themed such as Halloween trivia and the Ugly Sweater party. It’s a subtle but noticeable adjustment to making connections with co-workers over a video call although not gathered in person. All new hires were put on a team managed by Chris Hicks, Latif Majeed or Lauren Gerulski. We formed nicknames for our respective teams and have friendly competition amongst each other. Individual stakes were raised as awards were given like best/ugliest sweater and most festive Zoom background. Who knew that small gift cards could raise so much excitement?
Since the initial stay-at-home order, I’ve taken up hobbies like puzzling, playing cards, and reading. Reading has been enjoyable since I can learn from non-fiction and be imaginative when reading fiction. The book club has been one of my favorite groups to be a part of at UKG. We read a non-fiction book called Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Every other Wednesday, we would have an hour meeting discussing our thoughts and ideas on what Gladwell presented in his book. Not only did I receive my co-worker’s perspectives on the book, but I also gained insight on their beliefs, background, and lifestyle.
Another way I’ve gotten to know my peers is by talking to them outside of work. I’ve added my onboarding classmates on different social media platforms so I can get a peek of some of the things they like doing or interests that they may not have mentioned before. The June 2020 SURGE class has a GroupMe chat where we like to discuss sports, the Bachelor franchise, and recommendations for dining around Indy. This group chat has been a repository of recommendations on where to live, good restaurants offering carryout, as well as things to do where you can be socially distant and COVID-safe.
The pandemic completely shifted what I thought would be my first year out of college and on the job. I’ve loved my experience so far and understand we must be cautious for the sake of our own health and the health of our peers. A completely remote work environment has made me incredibly excited to return to the office and spend face-to-face time with my team. Amid this crisis, UKG has found a way to make all of us early professionals feel right at home within the company. What has been most impressive during my positive onboarding experience is that all of this has been done virtually, with a growth mindset, during a merger. #GoUKG
Kenzie is a graduate of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. She is a Solution Consultant for UKG (formerly Kronos) and resides in downtown Indy. Originally from Middlebury, IN, she enjoys being a short road trip away from her family.