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  • Writer's picturePeter Yawitz

New Hires Sleep During Zooms

Dear Someone Else’s Dad,

Our new hires don’t seem to pay attention during our Zoom onboarding programs. Most look like they’re bored, asleep, or doing who-knows-what-else. I know virtual sessions are not ideal, but I want to scream: “Why am I paying you?” Any advice?


Generally Exasperated GenXer

Dear GEGX,

I have done lots of big group new-hire sessions over the past year and a half and get very frustrated not being able to have eye contact with participants and adjust my style based on their energy level. Here are things to keep in mind:

1. Bad non-verbal behavior doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention. The newest generation in the workplace may not be able to breathe without being connected digitally, but many have mastered multitasking even if they appear to be doing who-knows-what-else. If you want to make sure they are paying attention, tell them in advance that they’ll be taking graded quizzes throughout the session. Watch their attention level pop up.

2. Remind them that there’s such a thing as professional Zoom presence. I highly recommend you model good professional presence: sitting up straight, looking into the camera as much as possible, and demonstrating authentic enthusiasm. Remind your audience that good non-verbal behavior is important now and will be even more important when they eventually return to the office.

3. You need to keep them interested. Zoom seminars are a big drag. Go find three people who’ll say, “Yippee, a daylong Zoom seminar! Sign me up!” You can make proceedings interesting by mixing things up. Tell some stories about how you learned something and messed up at first. Show videos as long as they aren’t funny just to some people and don’t seem like corporate PR. Also, let people know you’ll be giving them breaks every hour to check email, tank up, or use the bathroom.

Also, ask yourself whether it may be more efficient for everyone read a well-structured document instead of attending a long virtual seminar. Yippee! Sign me up!

All the best,


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