We all know the benefits of a positive onboarding experience. In the current climate it would be easy to delay employing someone as we may not think that we can do this well enough and that there may be a negative impact further down the line. However, your business will be in a much stronger position for the future if you have all of your talent in place as the world begins to return to normal. Starting new team members virtually and doing this well is therefore essential.
All organisations are unique so it is difficult to prescribe an exact approach, but there are some key actions that you can take to move from the face to face experience to a remote one.
1. Create a structure
The first step is to review what you are doing already and if you have not done so already document all of the steps in your onboarding and induction process. You will then need to consider each step - perhaps drilling down in a little more detail than you are used to doing and deciding what is essential. If it is, how can it be adapted for the current circumstances?
Your new employee may already be feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of not starting their new role in the office or on site and you don’t want to cause any greater stress by providing multiple documents and too many virtual meetings. The key to success from day one is to be aware of the impact of your plans and strive to balance the first month or so.
2. Technology and tools
From a health and safety point of view you will need to check that the new employee has the capability to work from home
Taking all necessary precautions, you will then need to ensure that they have all the technology and tools to be able to work remotely. This can be either equipment delivered in advance of their start date or by organising for security software and team collaboration tools to be downloaded onto their own PC
You will need to ensure that the set-up is as smooth as possible so you will need to schedule time with your IT department or service provider so that they can assist with the set-up. Do not be tempted to start someone off with manuals and ‘How To’ guides - these are great for future reference but as the only source of support can easily lead to early frustrations and negativity.
3. Get the administration right
Leaving too much of the employment administration until someone has started can fill their days but is unsatisfying and can be demotivating
Use currently available technology solutions to sign contracts, make right to work checks and to complete joiner paperwork – you want as much as possible completed before they start. If you do not have an onboarding portal (which many of our clients use) then there are legally binding tools easily available, for example DocuSign.
4. Welcome starters from acceptance of offer
Your welcome should start as soon as your candidate has accepted your offer. It is even more important to keep connected in this current situation either with regular calls (preferable) or emails. You need to keep your new employee engaged and motivated from the outset – which starts before their first day!
Before they start you can send over a plan for their first few days and weeks. If you haven’t done so already you could also think about sending out:
- Employee handbook
- Intranet guidelines
- Information about the organisation – culture, vision, mission, values etc
Consider sending over a ‘Welcome to the team’ pack. It might be difficult to deliver company-branded goodies such as pens, notebooks or mugs but there are other options. You could share a short video message from the CEO or their new team members or if not, then perhaps you could support a local business or a charity by sending a small gift i.e. cupcakes, coffee, lunch etc.
Getting this right is essential as up to 33% of employees know whether they would stay with their organisation longer term after the first week of employment.
5. Make Day One a virtual coffee meeting
On ‘arrival at the office’ on day one schedule a video call with the new starter and their line manager. This should include a tour of any systems they will be using and an introduction to key stakeholders
Set-up a video call to make team introductions. You can ask each person to introduce themselves and explain how they’ll be working with their new colleague
You can make this slightly less formal and more personal by setting-up a ‘virtual coffee’. Whatever you decide to do your aim is to build those all-important connections as quickly as possible. And it doesn’t stop there, as small talk in the office is common and a great way to get to know people then think about how you can make this happen remotely – you could introduce regular coffee breaks and maybe include some games i.e. Pictionary or quizzes.
As you move to this new approach then it is essential to know how successful it is and to adjust as you learn. You will need to ask each new hire for their feedback either directly or using a simple online survey. It can also be helpful for you to know where there are still gaps in their knowledge and understanding which you can work with them going forward as part of their development planning.
Once you have successfully onboarded your new employee remotely then the job is not over! The current social distancing rules mean that new employees need your proactive support more than ever. Look out for our follow-up article about the remote induction process to continue the successful relationship with your new employee.