Uncertainty is rife in the workplace right now. With the onset of the social isolation policy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become the norm in many sectors.
So how do you repurpose your onboarding strategy to engage, prepare and train your new starters under these unique conditions? How do you create that all important sense of community, when many new employees might not meet a single new work colleague face-to-face for many months?
Review your processes
Pinpoint onboarding processes that currently rely on face-to-face interactions, from welcome drinks and induction days, to systems training. Then plan how you can best achieve them remotely, through everything from online training videos to webinars. Alongside this, ensure you’re gathering the right data on your new starters, from what tech they have at home, to an individual’s particular vulnerabilities in relation to COVID-19. This can also help you plan a staggered ‘return to work’ process when social isolation measures become less stringent.
Get the technology you need
From the laptops and phones your new remote workers will require, to the software systems that will help deliver more efficient remote working, technology is key. (As is ensuring these remote workers are set up on email and have access to your servers.) Involving your IT and procurement department in these discussions as early as possible will be vital.
An online onboarding system such as Eli can greatly enhance a new starter’s experience in these unique circumstances. It can encourage team building through social walls and messaging facilities, enable users to fill in forms and sign contracts remotely, provide vital information tailored to each team or even individual, and house personalised training or induction checklists and content.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communicating regularly with people due to start in the next few months will instil confidence and prevent your HR Department from being inundated with enquiries. This could include:
An initial ‘holding’ comms piece explaining that you’re putting in place a new onboarding strategy in light of COVID-19, and will be in touch regularly with all the information needed.
Specific information for each person (for example around whether their employment date will be delayed, whether they will now be working from home or how their probation period might be affected).
Information on how your organisation is responding to COVID-19 both in terms of how you are looking to protect and support your workforce, and how you will be minimising the damage to your business because of the crisis.
News about any work your organisation is doing to help fight the pandemic, be it delivering food so people can stay in isolation or repurposing production lines to make ventilators.
Weekly Q&A sessions for all new starters via a social wall to keep people in the loop.
Virtual teams (and virtual drinks)
How do you build a team when people can’t meet face-to-face?
Line Managers need to be more accessible than ever to a new team member. Create a Line Manager’s checklist complete with guidance so they understand their new role in light of COVID-19.
Run a meet and greet video call or group chat to introduce your new starter to the team. (Google Hangouts is a great way to do this and free if you have a google email.)
Organise virtual team drinks, where everyone joins an online meeting at the end of a Friday afternoon, for a chat and a couple of bevvies. (You could even deliver each team member a bottle of their favourite drink – alcoholic or otherwise – in time for the occasion.)
Create a new starter social wall to allow employees to share experiences and tips.
Remote working training and information
From training videos for getting up to speed with remote working systems and processes, to team biographies that give new starters the lowdown on who their colleagues are and what they do, there’s much that can be done to make remote workers feel less remote.
Above all, keep communicating with your new starters in every way you can. By giving your people the tools they need to communicate, learn and support each other, you’ll help them adapt swiftly and rise to the challenge of a very different workplace environment.
Want more ideas on onboarding during the COVID-19 pandemic? Follow Eli Onboarding for regular tips and advice.