Starting a new job can be overwhelming at the best of times. We can often feel that we lack both the information we need and an understanding of what’s expected of us, and this can create a sense of the ‘unknown.’
Many organisations are still in the process of figuring out what hybrid working means to them, how they can create the optimal hybrid working environment, and how to onboard new starters remotely. All of this means that procedures surrounding virtual and hybrid onboarding are often far less than ideal, which can make the experience of new starters considerably more stressful than it needs to be.
Throughout this post, we’ll discuss a number of things that organisations should be thinking about as they start to grapple with the challenges associated with hybrid and virtual onboarding.
What is the purpose of a workplace induction?
We all want new hires who can ‘hit the ground running’, but in order to do so – they need a smooth landing! The purpose of an induction, whether remote or otherwise, is to integrate a new employee into the company so that they feel welcomed and encouraged to become an effective and motivated member of the team as quickly as possible. Induction is also a great opportunity to inspire new starters, to help new people connect with your brand, and to promote your organisation, its mission, and its strategic priorities.
Creating an effective induction policy
If you want to have a well-planned induction programme ready for your new employee’s first day, then an induction policy needs to be in place even before any job offer is made. Implementing an Induction Policy that clearly lays out the purpose and process for effective onboarding of new hires is essential. To ensure a smooth process, with the new starter feeling confident and equipped to take on their new responsibilities – and their line-manager and team members equally prepared to manage, delegate and support – the policy must outline who is responsible for the different elements of the induction programme – line managers, team members, HR, facilities managers, and IT all have a role to play.
Length of induction
Remember, an effective induction programme is not a one-off event but instead takes place over a period of weeks and months. It should be an ongoing process to ensure that the new employee settles well into your organisation and has the confidence to carry out the full scope of their duties.
Where possible, a detailed handover is an essential part of an effective induction process. If possible, organisations should try to set-up an online meeting between the new employee and the previous job holder. This will give new starters a chance to run through all of the important information relating to their role. As a minimum, a document providing key information about ongoing work activities and key contacts will give the new employee something to work with while they find their own way.
Not only can collaboration tools such as ‘Spark’ or ‘Random Coffee’ be extremely useful to support a hybrid working model generally, but they can also be a great way to help new starters get to know their new colleagues. Remote workers don’t have the benefit of bumping into people at the coffee machine, so organisations need to create opportunities for these kinds of interactions to happen virtually.
Whether ordering the IT and home office kit to be delivered to your new employee’s home address or scheduling in their first few key meetings, there’s a lot to think about and keep track of when onboarding a new employee – an Induction checklist can help ensure that none of the important stuff is missed.
The checklist should also include activities that the starter will be responsible for completing themselves – this is important to give them ownership of their induction.
When onboarding someone remotely, you need to make sure your induction checklist includes:
- Access/logins to the relevant systems and software for their role — don’t forget to send them a headset or webcam if this is not standard
- An explanation of the homeworking policy and hybrid meetings guidance
- A prepared ‘Welcome’ message from the team and a meeting slot on their first day for them to say hello to everyone
- A branded gift sent to their home – something tangible to make them feel a part of your organisation
- A date scheduled for the team to meet them face-to-face, either in the office or at a social occasion
- An introduction to their ‘buddy’ – usually a team member who will be their informal source of information on the team and the organisation, and who will help answer questions about who does what and where to go if they need support
- Pre-planned regular Manager catch-ups (typically daily for the first week then gradually reducing as they get up to speed; eventually becoming fortnightly check-ins)
- Information about health and wellbeing facilities and activities, especially anything that can help reduce feelings of isolation, e.g. does the organisation have an employee helpline or different employee forums for like-minded people, and do they have ‘protected time’ during the working day where meetings cannot be booked. This has become popular to reduce screen fatigue and increase thinking time for remote workers
Joining a new organisation can be stressful. In the absence of the usual, casual ways of striking up relationships, it’s important that a conscious effort is made to communicate with and integrate new team members. Communicating with your new starter using different methods will help them feel engaged, so don’t forget to pick up the phone: it’s nice to hear a human voice… and don’t feel the need to have to switch on your video – often we’re more relaxed on the phone!)