By Lorna Boyer, Marketing and PR, Eventurous Ltd
Finding ways to make new employees feel welcome, and integrate them into a team that’s working remotely, has become a new challenge for HR and recruitment staff everywhere.
This past year, businesses across the world have found themselves quickly implementing new plans for working remotely. Employees who have never worked from home before, have been setting up remote offices in their kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms, whilst trying to juggle positive mental health and childcare responsibilities. There’s no denying that the pandemic has seen a huge shakeup in the job market, with many people turning their skills to completely new sectors.
Whilst online collaboration tools and video conferencing software have allowed many business operations to continue as usual, employers are facing the daunting task of adapting hiring processes to this ‘new normal’. New starters are increasingly worried about fitting into a team that they won’t be able to physically meet. With no way of meeting in-person and connecting with new employees, how can onboarding processes be adapted to meet the guidelines and keep new hires feeling welcomed?
Here are some key processes and how they work in a virtual world…
Create Important Connections
Normally, on their first day, employees would be given a tour of the office and have chance to sit with co-workers from different departments to learn more about the business. This is a vital step in creating connections and establishing working relationships that needs to be adapted to a remote working environment. There are several ways employers can ensure these connections are still made:
Assign new starters a “welcome buddy” – A good way to provide one-to-one support for new employees is to assign them a welcome buddy, who can guide them through their first few days. This could be a member of staff who does a similar job role or someone they will eventually work closely with, or perhaps just a friendly face from the office. The welcome buddy will be a great source of information, able to guide them through the standard processes and procedures whilst also acting as a comforting presence and main point of contact, so new starters don’t feel isolated.
Use Virtual Team Building to connect the team – There are a plethora of exciting virtual team building games available that have been tailored for remote teams. These can be a great way to get new employees connecting with the team and establishing their place in your company. Virtual team building activities give everyone a chance to get to know each other and can be a fun way for new starters to familiarise themselves with the wider team. With everything from culinary experiences to escape rooms, these activities are a fun way to make new employees feel welcome and have a wide range of benefits for your entire team.
Re-design Your Standard On-Boarding Progress Plan
Create a Virtual “Meet and Greet” Project – Setting an interesting project that gets new starters connecting with employees from different departments is a great way to get them building their internal network whilst remote working. Set up video calls with employees from different departments over multiple days to help them learn more about the company and gain a deeper understanding of the different roles and responsibilities involved.
Consider Adjusting the New Starter Learning Journey – Be prepared to roll out new starter training at a slightly slower pace. A completely remote onboarding process can be overwhelming. By spacing information out, new employees are given the chance to fully absorb the information and ask any questions, rather than being inundated with new processes.
Many employees will also be trying to balance their work and home life during these unusual times. Adding a degree of flexibility to new starter training will go a long way to creating a positive impression of your company and encourage loyalty from your new employee. Let your new hire know that they can work through their training materials at their own pace and that you understand variables such as childcare can pose a challenge that requires flexible hours. This shows empathy and a level of support that will make employees feel like they are already part of the team.
Designate a Virtual Mentor – Assigning new starters a virtual mentor, who can work with them on a custom training plan, can help to speed up onboarding time and allow for more learning and growth. A mentor can be an invaluable source of advice and feedback whilst also being a point of contact for questions. Choose a mentor who has worked in the same role before or who has had a similar role and can advise on the best tasks to get your new hire accustomed to the company.
Keep Track of Onboarding Changes – Whilst everyone is working remotely, processes can become more ambiguous and it may be harder for managers to keep track of progression. Creating remote onboarding guides helps to keep everyone informed and aware of what new starters are working on and where they should be up to with their training.
Maintain an Engaging Company Culture
Schedule Ongoing One-to-Ones and Check Ins – A key factor in keeping employees engaged, motivated, and connected, is regular contact to check on their progress and offer any support. For companies with small employee numbers, this could be as simple as weekly office-wide meetings. For larger companies, it could be virtual team socials or weekly department or team meetings. For new hires, this will ensure they feel included and supported as they go through their training and give them a chance to find out what the rest of the team are working on.
Promote Company Games and Highlight Positivity – Without traditional company perks such as staff lunches or awards celebrations, maintaining a positive workplace culture can be difficult and new employees miss out on the social aspects of office culture. Consider implementing some company games that everyone can get involved with, boosting team morale, and encouraging new starters to participate. Start small, by getting teams to share their home workspace or answer desert island style questions on a ‘reply all’ email. Then think about organising some virtual company socials such as a race night or cocktail class.
By reworking onboarding practices to support the remote working environment, employers will create a positive experience for new employees, encouraging loyalty and boosting morale. It also makes the process much easier for both the new hires and your current employees, ensuring a smooth transition as new starters find their place in the team. In these strange times, a warm welcome into a new team can make all the difference to new employees, keeping everyone connected, motivated and inspired.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.
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