How To | Onboard Virtual Recruits
It’s never easy to be the new person at work, but starting a job in renewables when many businesses are still operating remotely takes that challenge to an entirely different level.
From an employee’s perspective, they’re unlikely to meet most of their colleagues and clients in person for quite some time, which makes it slightly harder to form relationships, plus there’s the added necessity to quickly grasp new systems and virtual tools without in-person support.
Whether they’ll be working from home initially or for the foreseeable future, integrating a new recruit into your team remotely is equally challenging for employers, who’ve had very little time to adapt their onboarding process to the ‘new normal’.
While virtual onboarding can never really replicate the in-person experience, there are lots of things businesses can do to make new recruits feel welcome and give them the tools they’ll need to do their job effectively. Here are our seven top tips to onboard team members remotely:
1. Set out your expectations ahead of time
In a physical environment, companies might present a contract, a job description and a set of company guidelines to new recruits within their first week. For virtual recruits, it’s best to start this process sooner.
Send out an employee welcome pack ahead of time, to give them the chance to absorb all the information and understand what you expect of them before they begin.
Make sure they’re clear on your company’s values and goals, as well as their own objectives.
You’ll also need to organise delivery of any work equipment, such as their laptops or headsets, ahead of their start date.
To make them feel extra welcome, you could take your welcome pack one step further by adding in a few treats or tools to help them do their job.
Notepads, USBs, eco-friendly water bottles or even a token gift card to Amazon or Netflix can be an inexpensive way to get people excited to be coming on board, when you can’t offer that in person.
2. Introduce them virtually to co-workers
Setting up a virtual meeting on their first day will help them get to know their colleagues and begin building relationships.
Take the pressure off your new recruit by making it an informal virtual coffee morning – where your team comes together to simply check in and catch up – and include introductions as part of it.
Follow up the meeting by sending a group email listing your new recruit’s contact details, and make sure your new recruit has a list of team members, job titles, work contact details and email addresses, to make it easy for them to direct any questions to the right person.
3. Host a virtual tour
Even if they’ll be working from home for some time, showing new recruits around your premises, even virtually, can help them feel more connected to the business.
If possible, schedule in a virtual ‘walk through’ to take them around your offices or facilities so they can get a better idea of how you usually operate.
4. Set up early training
Schedule in training sessions throughout their first few days to get them set up on, and familiar with, your systems and software. Make sure they have access to all the tools and passwords they need, as well as easy access to your IT support team.
5. Assign a ‘work buddy’
If most of your operations are currently happening remotely, you won’t always be able to check in with or guide your new recruits as you would in a normal environment.
That’s why it’s often useful to assign each new recruit a peer-level mentor or ‘work buddy’ to help them settle in. Their work buddy can also set up meetings to introduce them to clients or other team members.
6. Check in regularly (but not constantly)
There’s a fine line between making sure your new recruit feels supported, and being seen to be micro-managing.
Check in weekly over their first few weeks to see how they’re doing, then let them know that they can approach you any time they need, and leave it with them.
Employee wellbeing has taken on even greater importance since the pandemic, so any other tools you can give them to support their wellbeing during their first few months is fantastic.
7. Measure your onboarding process
As you bring on new recruits in the ‘new normal’, it’s likely you may need to constantly adapt your approach to make sure it’s effective, and working for everyone involved.
Once new recruits have settled in, take the opportunity to ask for feedback on how they feel the onboarding process went; did it give them all the tools and support they need?
Are there any gaps in your processes? What could you improve on? Being open to feedback will help you refine it for future virtual hires.
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