Long before Covid-19, working remotely was a benefit many businesses offered their employees, alongside additional holiday or private health insurance. But as hybrid working shifts to become ‘business as usual’, it’s hard to imagine exactly what the world of work looked like just nine months’ ago.

For many of us, when we imagine the first day at a new job, we can easily remember feelings of nerves, and lots of inductions and introductions – but since March this year, the recruiting and onboarding process for new staff has completely changed. Challenges emerged for not only businesses looking to recruit, but also for those who found themselves job hunting in the middle of a global pandemic.

New starters have been employed without ever having met the hiring manager, and many are yet to meet their peers beyond video conferencing. Data shows that 22 per cent of businesses do not have an onboarding programme in place, but with the first few days at a new workplace so important for future productivity and staff retention – what does a successful recruitment and onboarding experience look like in a post-Covid world?

Communicating the company culture

Olive Communications has itself successfully recruited a number of new employees since July 2020, all of which have started their hiring process through an online portal where engagement is done from the very initial recruitment screening, through to assessments and interviews.

As someone who went through this very onboarding process in April, from the get-go new employees are immersed in the company culture, and quickly introduced to their teams for that extra level of support and signposting.

The induction plan for new starters includes the first 1-2 weeks mapped out with time already allocated for one-on-one conversations with their line manager. Any new starter, regardless of seniority, has a vigorous training plan to get them up to the level required of their role.

Sharing your company culture from day one is so important as it ensures new employees are engaged with not only their work, but also their workplace. This is especially important when operating a virtual call centre team where motivation can affect service delivery. Research shows that employee engagement levels have a direct impact on productivity, with engaged employees boosting customer ratings by 10 per cent.

Put the right parameters in place

It’s important to be aware that the process for managing new employees may have to be adapted when done virtually. Whilst it’s usually recommended to steer clear of micromanaging, it is important to somewhat overdo the management piece when onboarding new recruits virtually to make sure they feel included in every aspect of team planning.

Introduce regular touchpoints between employees, line managers and HR to ensure any potential issues are quickly identified and resolved. This form of management has little to do with distrust, but more about connecting new starters to the company.

All employees should have access to a space where ‘every day’ questions can be easily answered – whether this is through an online portal, virtual staffroom or instant chat. Having good communication platforms in place is absolutely imperative when onboarding successfully. Good video platforms and up-to-date technology systems will help you in your onboarding process, simplifying how new starters can navigate the first few (and most important) weeks.

The pros and pitfalls of onboarding virtually

As hybrid working is here to stay, the form it takes may begin to shift slightly in 2021. In addition to a simplified recruitment process, many employees are reporting increased productivity and improved work-life balance -so could the same be said for the virtual recruiting process?

The average cost of hiring a new employee sits at around £3,000, and the average length of the job interview process is 27.5 days. Being able to recruit and onboard virtually has removed the complexities from the shortlisting process, and we are seeing examples of a candidate interviewing one week, before accepting and beginning the job the following week.

The openness to remote working has also meant that employers have a wider talent pool to tap into, helping to resolve the skills gap in more technical job roles.

But whilst better for productivity and employees’ mental health and wellbeing, there are pitfalls of which to be aware of when onboarding remotely.

Employers need to remember not to leave staff members behind. Without visual clues or day-to-day in-person insights relating to how members of staff are feeling, high performing employees may feel left behind without regular check-ins.

As we move away from complete remote working to a mixed home-office approach, it’s beneficial that businesses prioritise new starters when looking at the return to office planning to help employees build social relationships with colleagues and feel fully integrated.

As we touched upon earlier, it’s imperative that employers have the right technology in place to ensure the virtual recruitment process is as easy as possible. For those who don’t take advantage of the online onboarding process and create a tried-and-tested programme, they may get left behind as we head into the New Year.

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