Candidate on-boarding is a period of notorious risk at the best at times, let alone when you’re doing it remotely in the middle of a global pandemic. Getting new starters up to speed and comfortably settled into your company should be a top priority for the whole business. Because if a candidate can’t assimilate, they likely won’t stay, and the whole recruitment process will have to be kick-started again.
Here are some simple steps to help you do just that. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential conversation about how we can help.
But firstly, what’s so different about remote on-boarding?
While almost all companies have an induction process, many new starters learn the ropes through osmosis. Simply being around people in their team and the wider business means that new starters can raise questions, ask for help and soak up the culture without too much effort. The eagle eyes of a new manager and regular facetime also means that any hurdles are quickly picked up and resolved. This is not the case with remote on-boarding.
Every step of remote on-boarding must be clear and deliberate. Missing out steps that would normally be covered incidentally can leave new starters cut-off from the wider business. Managers will also need to revise their expectations – it will take longer for new starters to add value to your team while they are getting up and running, so it’s important to be patient and empathetic.
Let’s get started.
There are a few things that should be prioritised before a candidate even has the chance to step through the metaphorical door of your virtual office. Firstly, they should have full access to your technology and network at home. Secondly, all mandatory training and forms (such as health and safety) should be accessible online. And thirdly, there should be an on-boarding checklist (for you and for them), to help them get started. This should cover all departments – including those incidental learnings as mentioned above. For example, email signatures, brand guidelines and LinkedIn formats should all be provided alongside traditional organisational charts or company policies.
While this process may seem boring and arduous (as indeed it does, whenever you start a new role!), it’s an important part of mentally joining a new company and gives new starters the chance to get into the swing of working without being plunged into the deep end.
Frequent, open communication is important for building up a new relationship, and that’s true wherever you are. Make the most of video calling facilities (with the camera on) to try and maintain as close as resemblance to face-to-face meetings as possible. We recommend starting with daily calls over the first two weeks, gradually deescalating to once a week as the new starter becomes more comfortable.
It’s important to find the balance between giving the new starter support and giving them independence. Communication overload can come across as micromanaging, so it’s vital to listen to what they need. Remember that everyone is different and will require different levels of support. But however you choose to communicate, make sure that you are checking in at least once a week on video chat and that it’s clear your virtual door is always open.
Building a rapport within the team and across the business plays a large part in settling new starters. It helps them to understand the company culture, values, mission and objectives. And fitting in with their new team and organisation is normally one of the primary concerns for new starters, so paying attention to how well you’re doing this is important.
Start out with a wider team greeting on a video call to introduce everyone to each other, but also leave room and encourage one-to-ones to help everyone get to know each other. If possible, appoint a peer to act as their go-to contact outside of their direct line manager. This will offer an alternative, quicker, and less high-pressure route for any questions or concerns, as well as enabling the new starter to develop a more natural relationship with a member of their new team. Ensure that you pay close attention to personalities, background and situations when peer-matching.
It’s also worthwhile giving the new starter the opportunity to meet teams from other departments so they can see how they fit into the wider business and understand how they can add value. Team building should be about both work and play – don’t forget to invite the new starter to any quizzes or wind-down activities you do to help convey your culture remotely.
Learning on the job
When we start a new job, we feel under pressure to perform and show our value. As a result, the faster a new starter feels that they are contributing, the faster they will achieve a sense of belonging.
To do this, new starters need to be given the space and the opportunity to learn. Ensure they are prepped before calls and get them involved – asking and answering questions instead of just listening. Pay attention to company-specific language and skip the jargon and acronyms that could leave them out or stop them for speaking out for fear of getting it wrong. And check-in without micromanaging, so they can learn organically.
Lastly, it can be a good idea to set reasonable, appropriate metrics to monitor performance and progress. It’s important to be empathetic when setting and monitoring these. A new starter that fails to reach the standards you have set may need more support. It’s important to be flexible and attentive in your approach.
There will come a point when you decide that it’s time to take a step back from on-boarding the new starter. Self-sufficiency is, after all, the ultimate goal. But it can be easy to misjudge this. Understanding when a new starter is ready to ‘just be part of the team’ is easier to see in person, but virtually it may be necessary to extend the nurturing period for a little longer before testing if they can fly. Assume new starters need longer.
It’s important to understand that no matter how well a new starter takes to joining your company, additional work will need to be done when they return to the workplace. It’s important for new starters to have relationships in place with their colleagues when they return so they don’t feel brand-new all over again. Some team bonding and building activities when it’s back to business-as-usual should firm up relationships – as well as being a good excuse to celebrate the end of enforced home working!
If you’re a business wondering how to on-board your new starters – or even new teams – remotely, get in touch with us at email@example.com to find out how we can help.