Queries around remote onboarding for new hires reach an all-time high

Remote onboarding, video interviews, and contract hires were the top three queries received by global recruiter Robert Walters in Q1.

Whilst video interviews and temporary hires dominated recruitment queries in February, this has been overtaken by employers asking around how to effectively onboard new hires remotely. So much so that queries around this topic increased by 37% in the last six weeks alone.

Chris Hickey, UK CEO at Robert Walters, comments:

“Remote onboarding is not a new phenomenon to us and is something we have experience of when we have previously recruited for temporary or contract hires who are occasionally not based on-site.

“Whilst companies on the whole have been able to alter their recruitment process fairly quickly in response to the Covid-19 outbreak – through the use of digital CV’s, video interviews, and online testing – firms have been less prepared for the challenge of onboarding new talent remotely.

“There are entirely new factors firms have to consider when onboarding which didn’t come into play four months ago – including social isolation, effectively delivering training remotely, measuring output, illustrating company culture & values, and making a new starter feel a part of the team.”

Robert Walters new e-guide – A Guide to Remote Onboarding – outlines how companies can continue hiring the skills they need and embed new employees into the organisation remotely.

Chris Hickey shares his tips on how to keep new hires engaged:

  • Creating a personal introduction video: A lack of face-to-face interaction can be isolating, so using video to express your enthusiasm for a new employee joining the company can help alleviate this. Any personal touch allows a new starter to understand team culture, allowing them to fit in more seamlessly once staff start to migrate back to the office.
  • Provide reassurance: In the current climate, security and support are essential to quell anxieties or uncertainties new employees might have with starting a new role remotely. You’ll need to communicate regularly and answer any questions new starters have about how the onboarding process will work. In addition, include new starters in internal updates, e-newsletters, project updates and share useful links.
  • Embed into the team culture: Impress upon your new hire a sense of community from the outset by getting them involved in the team. Add your new team member to WhatsApp or Skype groups, and schedule social video calls to introduce your new starter to the rest of the department. Consider any team rituals that you can continue remotely and get the new starter involved in, such as virtual quizzes or drinks. Most importantly, prioritise small talk and getting to know your new hire, before turning to work chat.
  • Provide a new starter pack: This is something which typically gets left until induction week. But providing useful links to resources such as HR contacts, internal processes, training sessions, how to request leave, FAQs and benefits information, will allow many questions to be answered prior to your new hire’s start date. To increase engagement, make your new starter pack interactive with short quizzes about the company’s key messages and processes – you want your hire to feel they are integrating into your organisation before they go online on day one.
  • Provide an organisational chart: Remembering names and roles can be difficult even when you are seeing people face-to-face daily as a new starter, so when remote onboarding it is important to help an individual get to grips with the organisation structure and ‘who sits where.’ The best way to do this is to provide an organisational chart in your starter pack.
  • Make HR paperwork paperless: One of the most dreaded parts of starting a new role are the hordes of paperwork that new hires are required to sign and return. While many businesses have already transitioned to digital paperwork, a centralised platform such as Gusto can help you to keep all documentation in one place. You can also send out paperwork digitally using tools like Docusign or DocHub, but be sure to send them well in advance of your new hire’s start date.
  • Test your technologies: Confirm that all technology you make available to your new recruit is in working order before their first week. Assign someone in your business with technology expertise to be available to set up systems prior to the start date to ensure your new starter isn’t troubleshooting on day one.
  • Develop a training programme: Think about all the processes you may need to provide training on to support your new recruit in performing their job. This may include things you deal with as they come up in an office setting, such as accessing the company intranet, accessing templates and key files, or bookmarking sites they will use on a regular basis.
  • Create a feedback loop: Digital onboarding is a learning curve for all parties, so there are bound to be teething issues when implementing it for the first time. After week one, be sure to ask your new team member what can be improved. Perhaps they could have benefited from a more organised system, or would have appreciated fewer meetings and more down time to get settled in. It’s important to take into consideration how different personality types may react to a novel situation, and you won’t be able to improve your process if you don’t ask.
  • Be patient: Even if your new hire is accustomed to working remotely, a digital onboarding process will be navigating completely new territory for both managers and employees, so errors and miscommunications are to be expected during the first few weeks. Where a new employee may go wrong, be understanding and ensure they have the support to overcome and learn from any errors.
  • Prioritise their wellbeing: Your new starter will want to impress and overwork to let their employer know they can be trusted, resulting in the potential to work after hours and be at risk of burn-out. Make sure you instil the importance of unplugging and maintaining work-life balance from the outset. Share how you personally structure your day so your new hire follows suit.

Robert Walter’s recently hosted a live webinar on Thursday 23 April featuring companies who have recently onboarded new starters remotely – including Thames Water, Barclays, Kelkoo Group, and Slalom. To listen on-demand click here.