Top Tips from Michael Page

Top tips for onboarding new staff remotely – five clear steps

20th April 2020, 6:00 pm

The unprecedented global health crisis is already having far-reaching implications across the recruitment process – and one of these key areas is onboarding new staff.  Many employers now find themselves in the fairly unique position of onboarding a member of staff remotely rather than in person in an office or workspace. This will continue to be the case until the Government’s instructions on social distancing and working from home are lifted.

Clearly, this is a challenging scenario for both sides, but also a situation that we can help you navigate. Here are five clear steps to onboarding a new employee remotely.

  1. Conduct pre-boarding

A welcome email should be sent to your new starter a week or two before they begin their new role to tell them just this. It should set out the itinerary for the first few weeks. Break down the first week from Monday to Friday, for example in a diary format, with each day broken down and structured into morning and afternoon tasks. This will give the employee clarity about what to expect once they commence their employment.

The email should also provide details of a main point of contact, their line manager or HR, in case the new starter has any initial questions. Send your company handbook, or provide links to any videos and key areas of the business related to the post holder’s role. Also, guide them through your digital learning platform if you have one. And if possible, assign a work buddy or mentor to the new starter to help them through those early stages of their career.

  1. Set up your tech

Make sure that your new employee is set up to work remotely. Are you going to provide them with a work laptop and phone or will they need to source this themselves? It’s important to be clear on details like this from the outset. You should also check that they have a suitable workspace and access to a reliable internet connection. If possible, let them have access to a team or an individual that can offer dedicated support during the early part of on-boarding process.

  1. Set up clear lines of communication

Some new starters may be working in their environment alone and feel cut off without regular communication. This is especially pertinent given they are unlikely to have met many of their colleagues in person, other than perhaps during the hiring process. For this reason, it is essential to set up a series of video calls with key people in the business within their first few days, as face-to-face screen time decreases feelings of isolation and builds trust. There are a range of good tools to use from Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype, to name a few. This will help the new starter get a better understanding of how their role fits in to the wider business strategy and help them build stronger relationships.

  1. Schedule regular check-ins

For the first week or so, a check-in once a day is a must, but this can be reduced over the following weeks, particularly as your new employee gets to know their colleagues and opens up further lines of communication over projects and priorities. Reinforce your video call or phone chats with clear actions over email – this will also give you something to refer back to in your next catch up. It is also important that induction training is varied and ensure that your company’s employee value proposition (EVP), is central to your training

  1. Feedback on performance

Although this is a unique scenario, the probation process still performs the same function in terms of allowing both sides to decide whether the role is a good fit and that the new starter is meeting expectations. Get feedback on the onboarding programme overall from your new recruit – you can then feed any learnings back into the process when you onboard your next new starter remotely.

It is important to offer continued coaching, personal support and guidance during these uncertain times of change. So, if you have a tried and tested online learning facility and training programme, don’t neglect the need for human engagement.

For any business, putting together a comprehensive recruitment upskilling strategy can be daunting, but at Michael Page, part of PageGroup, we have experts on hand that can help with the process during this challenging time.

If you would like to set up your recruitment programme to run remotely, please read our eBook: Running your recruitment processes remotely: A complete guide

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