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A guide to remotely introducing new starters to your business while on lockdown

With traditional onboarding processes coming to a halt during the coronavirus outbreak, companies are looking at alternative ways to introduce new starters to their business.
A guide to remotely introducing new starters to your business while on lockdown

Updated on 9th June 2020

Starting a new job can be a little daunting for anyone, especially during the first week - but it’s not just employees who worry about making the right first impression. As an employer you may also worry about starting off on the right foot, and question yourself over whether you think your new team member will settle into the work environment quickly.

That’s why introductions can really matter. By introducing your employees in the right way, making them feel connected to your company and engaged with the work environment, you may find that they are more productive and satisfied with their new job, Digitalist report.

Traditional methods of welcoming your new employee to the company include giving them an office tour, introducing them to the management team, and ensuring all the equipment and logins are ready for their first day. That’s just a baseline, though, as typically employers will throw social events to welcome new starters and break the ice so that the team can integrate properly.

In the current climate, however, many businesses are having to look for creative ways of welcoming new starters to their company while they are working from home. So, we’re going to explore some of the different ways you could look to make onboarding fun and enjoyable for your new employees. Despite the uncertainty facing businesses right now, it is still possible to provide a warm welcome to your new team members - even if you can’t meet them in person just yet.

Getting everything ready before day one

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Once you have found the perfect candidate it’s time to start putting the right systems in place to ensure they’re fully equipped to do their job. The sorts of steps you may want to consider include:

Providing the right IT equipment

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Perhaps the most obvious thing to prepare before your employee’s first day is the IT equipment. They’ll most likely need access to a laptop, monitor, keypad and mouse before they can crack on with any work. A stable internet connection is important, too, and if your employee is working from home on their first day it may be worth having this conversation with them to check that they have everything they need.

For industries that involve more practical skills and less online work, you may need to ensure that your new employee has access to all the right equipment to fulfil their role. Sometimes when site work is involved, for example in the construction or geology sectors, your employee may need certain safety or legal documentation to get access to the premises they’re working on, so making sure these processes are fully understood could be a good place to start.

Putting together a simple logins sheet may also help make your employee’s onboarding a process a smooth one. It could include:

  • A username and password to access their PC
  • Login details for any software needed for the job
  • Any administrative logins - such as printer codes, phone-line instructions or VPN access for those working at home

Make sure to include contact details for the IT team, too, in case they run into any technical road bumps - after all, would it be a proper onboarding without running into a few tech issues?

Capturing this onboarding process step-by-step, perhaps by explaining it in a word document, makes it easy for you to repeat your onboarding process with new employees. And, it could help you make changes to your process if you identify some areas that you could improve on.

Finalising any legal documentation

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It’s important to make sure that you have access to all the documents you need from your new starter - for example, a copy of their P45. Similarly, they’ll likely need documentation from you - perhaps a printed version of their contract. Having exchanged the necessary documentation, you must legally register your employee with HMRC, and take the steps needed to make them eligible for payroll.

Preparing a first day schedule

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Due to the UK’s current lockdown restrictions, you may find that you lack face-to-face interaction with your employees, so you may want to ensure that your new starter’s first day and week are more structured than usual. This could help to prevent them from becoming bored or demotivated if they feel they have no outstanding tasks or real purpose. A simple way of overcoming this obstacle is to put together a schedule that they can follow for their first week or two, which will keep them busy and give them a variety of tasks that help them learn the processes and culture of the company and its stakeholders or clientele.

How to make a good first-day impression

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For a new starter, the entire process of joining a new business, learning its IT systems and training processes could feel a little overwhelming - especially if you’re a little pressed for time and running a quick onboarding process.

To help avoid any feelings of loneliness or disorientation amongst your new team members, here are some handy techniques you could put in place to make the remote onboarding process a comfortable one, and make the wealth of information you’re providing easy to digest.

Create a welcome pack

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Welcome packs have stood the test of time and are frequently used by businesses across the globe to integrate new employees. A good welcome pack can not only showcase your business in a good light, but it could also outline useful information about working at your company that makes your new employee remember that they made the right decision when signing their contract.

Things you could look to include are:

  • A personalised welcome note or letter
  • HR documentation
  • Branded merchandise
  • Tips on working from home
  • A statement on your company’s mission, vision and values
  • A first-week schedule

Additionally, you could recommend some resources such as internal training documents, a book or e-book to help them get to grips with their responsibilities. There’s also a lot of information around how to request leave or how to access the office that may be useful to share.

Finally, we mentioned branded merchandise. Branded pens and notepads could help build some excitement into the welcome pack and, as with customer communications, a little personalisation may go a long way in making them feel welcomed as an individual to the team... they may even tell their friends about it.

Hosting an introductory video meeting

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In circumstances where face to face introductions are not possible, a suitable replacement for this important step in an employee’s onboarding journey could be a video introduction. You could use free software such as Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams to run a virtual meeting in which you introduce yourself, your business and your team to your new starter.

This call could involve each team member talking to your new starter to give a brief description of the work they do and how they’ll be working together over the coming weeks, and keeping this call short and light-hearted could be a nice way to break the ice.

Further video calls could be had to introduce them to their line manager, a member of the human resources department, or their IT contact to ensure they feel supported when going through the onboarding process - they’ll likely have plenty of questions. You also could look at scheduling regular one-to-one meetings with your employee.

Having one-to-one contact with your new starter remains the best way of delivering a proper introduction. It’s important to get to know your team-mate on a more personal or less formal basis; i.e. by finding out what their hobbies and interests are and how they work best. Finding out the answers to these questions could help you build a great working relationship- which could have a range of benefits from simply enjoying working together more to making your employees feel more motivated and valued.

Providing ongoing support and mentorship

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It can be easy to become lost under a busy workload, and forget for a moment about your new starters - especially when working from home. It may be worth reminding yourself to regularly check in with them to make sure they feel supported and that they have direction. Having a regular weekly call in place, whether it’s a one-on-one call or just including your immediate team, can create a great open platform to discuss tasks, track the progress of your new team members and ask them questions to gauge how they’re settling in.

For companies that have the resource, it may be worth dedicating a mentor to your new starters who can act as a point of contact for any questions or issues related to their work lives, or personal lives if their wellbeing is suffering. Having a mentor to help with wellbeing during lockdown could be particularly useful, as feelings of isolation can creep up on anyone.

Implementing a feedback system

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Only by knowing how your employees are feeling, thinking, and coping with their workloads can you ensure that your processes are up-to-date and that staff satisfaction is high. This could have some obvious benefits, such as improving the motivation and productivity of your team. A good way of getting these sorts of insights is to create a feedback system.

What could that look like? Well, even a simple 15-question survey sent out to all of your employees could help. You could split it into a few different categories such as ‘work-life balance’ and ‘managing workload’ to gain valuable insights into your employees’ attitudes toward working for your company.

For smaller companies, you may be able to assess these on an employee-by-employee basis. However, for larger companies, it may be worth using some survey techniques such as a Likert scale to gain an overview of your employees’ attitudes. You could run these surveys on a semi-regular basis and track/monitor your performance.

Likert scale employee questionnaire survey A Likert scale question could help you collect and process responses quickly - helping you to build a data set that paints a picture of employee attitudes through graphs and averages

You could use the feedback to look for ways to innovate on your current onboarding process and meet your employees’ needs. Make sure you account for and respond to the positives as well as the negatives, and keep an open mind when reading the feedback - after all, it could benefit you in the long run if you make the onboarding process for your next new starter the best process you’ve ever had.

Get social

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Aside from introducing work procedures and IT systems, it’s important to remember that socially welcoming new starters to your business can really elevate their experience. Even during the UK’s lockdown, when we’re unable to go for a team meal or to the pub, there are still ways to connect with your team and build a good atmosphere.

Using your video conferencing software to run a quiz has proven an incredibly popular option for many businesses during lockdown. Or, if you need a little more creative inspiration - a company movie night or even lunchtime yoga sessions might set the right tone and bring everyone together.

You can also use social media to celebrate your new joiners and publicly welcome to the team- something we’re familiar with at Esme!

We hope your onboarding process proves successful and that your new employees are excited about joining your business. Onboarding isn’t an exact science, however the key to success could be in finding a healthy balance between running enough meetings, giving your new employee the independence to settle in and crack on, and welcoming them to the team socially.

Making the right first impression could help you to build healthy working relationships that serve you and your new joiners well into the future.

How could Esme help?

These are difficult times for many businesses, so it’s important now more than ever, to take good care of yourself and your team. If you’re concerned about your business being impacted financially due to coronavirus, visit our advice page for information about how we may be able to support you.