We’ve all had at least one first day somewhere at some time in our lives. Whether it was the first time you walked into a new school, a new company or a new community group – you walked in and people were there to greet you.
Assimilation began, common interests were found, and anxiety faded away.
Now, put yourself in that same position today – in a world of remote work. Imagine the challenge of building relationships and asking for help over Zoom instead of over coffee and exchanging those casual conversations in the hallway for random text messages.
Even when COVID-19 health and safety protocols are relaxed as immunizations rise and cases drop, most companies will continue to have a group of workers who are hired into permanent remote roles and will need to be onboarded differently.
Integrating new employees into a company has always been an important responsibility that requires significant effort, but now that we’re in a remote world, the attention needed to successfully execute that process has reached new heights. The additional work is not about transitioning the traditional onboarding protocols from in-person to remote – companies have been mailing benefit forms, company swag and other items to new hires for years.
The extra effort is needed on informal actions and the scope of current managers and employees involved in the onboarding process must be expanded. That will help a new coworker to quickly feel a part of the team and excited about their potential to be effective in their new job immediately without being in the office regularly, if at all.
After a candidate has officially accepted an offer, in the days and weeks leading up to their official first day, ask current employees from different levels of the organization to call the recruit.Hearing from HR and the hiring manager is expected, hearing from a vice president or a staff member outside of the function the new hire is joining is not. Welcome the person to the company, offer to answer questions and provide insight into the company culture and personalities to ensure success. This demonstrates appreciation for and confidence in the new hire’s future contributions.
When Day 1 arrives for the new employee, the hiring manager should formalize a cadence for conversations, which don’t have to rigidly follow a list of talking points and scripted questions. Casual is OK.
Also, create opportunities for social interaction with colleagues by assigning a work buddy, or adding the newcomer to across-functional project where they can meet individuals throughout the company. The first few weeks are when the honeymoon period with a new company typically goes astray. Don’t let it happen. Touching base can go a long way.
Provide options for other assistance as well, such as introducing the new coworker to employee resource groups. Ask your department’s IT representative to be a personal point of contact to quickly resolve issues with connectivity or devices.
The onboarding experience is no longer limited to HR, the hiring manager and a prescribed check list.
And it doesn’t just benefit the new hire.
It helps everyone long term through increased engagement levels, getting new coworkers up to speed faster(we can all use more help!) and retaining valued for the rest of their careers.