Onboarding new employees during a pandemic has been a task.
Not a bad one to have, if your business has been doing well enough to be actively recruiting, but a challenge nonetheless.
New starters can feel isolated, and it’s harder to pick up company norms, in-jokes and even names when you’re not physically together every day. We need to put more effort into making them feel part of something.
Here’s what it takes: a fair bit of setup and a consistently strong internal brand across every single step. That brand is enticing, reassuring and helpful for getting people into your business’s way of life super-fast – because they want to.
1. Pitch for recruitment agencies
You might think – “I’m hiring, I need to get my job description done.” But before even that, you need to think of how you’re going to sell yourself to recruiters. You need the person hunting for your talent to be EXCITED about this opportunity, so they can sell it in turn.
I’ve experienced what a recruiter with too little information can do with that lack of story. Make it easy: give them the elevator pitch and the bullet points of why someone would want to come work for you. Get the brand in front of your candidates immediately.
2. Job description
We’ve all seen bad job listings. Terrible spelling, poor formatting, buzzwords everywhere. What if we just wrote a nice, simple, tasty job description that made people want to apply? I know, a revelation.
Extending your brand to your job descriptions sets the tone right from the beginning and makes sure you’ll attract the right sort of person.
Tips for your job descriptions:
- Don’t make up a crazy title – it’s harder for you to get found and people may not want to be called a Unicorn Guru
- Start with your business pitch: what you are, why you’re special and why someone should work for you
- Describe how the role will work from the point of view of ‘you’: ‘You’ll spend your days doing…”
- List personality traits that would gel with this role, but don’t be boring – it’s a given that they should have good ‘time management skills’ (yawn)
- List the concrete benefits i.e. holiday allowance and health insurance
- Describe the vibe of the company and the less tangible benefits of working with you, like the location or charity work
- Make it clear you’re remote or partly remote – it’s a big draw
3. Role posted on blog and socials
Get the whole business involved with your recruitment. Everyone posting available jobs on their own social accounts shows it’s something the company is excited about, let alone widening your network.
It’s a LOT cheaper to hire through a contact, rather than pay an agency finder’s fee. You also get a far better idea of what the person is really like – and if they’re a friend of someone who already works for the business, that’s a great head start.
Make sure everyone has the information, media and links they need so your branding is consistent everywhere. It takes quite a lot of prep upfront but then it’s fast to replicate for each job.
Your job posts:
- Description of the business – mention that you’re remote!
- Brief pitch of the role
- Link to full job description (which should have a nice featured image with the job title on it for social platforms)
Giving remote new starters one place to go for all the information they need in their first few days is a gift. Without the ease of wandering across the office, they need more information upfront or they just won’t ask.
With a handbook, they won’t have to feel like a constant bother, they don’t have to guess at names and they won’t have to solve their IT issues themselves.
It’s also a brilliant brand asset to have, both for people to refer to when hiring and for individuals who need to check their benefits, for example.
What to include in your handbook:
- Introduction to the business so they have context
- Organisational chart with teams, names and job titles so they know who to ask for help
- Senior team and team leader bios
- Timeline of the company’s history
- Culture (what to expect and non-tangible benefits)
- Admin – contractual benefits, IT setup and contacts, HR setup and contacts, policies
- Glossary of partners, ambassadors, systems, acronyms, jargon, teams
Try to be creative with your handbook. It’s a welcome, an induction and a guide to how your do business. Set the right tone from day one.
2. Introductions and integration
Introductions are so important for new starters. Now we’re less like to have that awkward ‘let’s take you round the office to hear people say names you’ll instantly forget’, we need to make sure we’re not dropping the ball when it comes to meeting key people.
I can’t imagine how it feels to start at a new job, knowing no one, and be sat by yourself at your computer with no clue who to go to for help. Make it easier: be strict about introductions.
- Intro session with CEO/manager to pitch (yes – pitch!) the business
- Intro sessions with team leaders where they explain what their team does
- Face-to-face day with team if possible
After all this, don’t drop them after the first few days. Part of keeping onboarding running smoothly when you’re working remotely is having regular whole-business days – which are necessary for keeping ALL of it running smoothly.
Following up with a new starter:
- Review with their manager after the first week to check in, and again at two weeks
- Some time at the next team-together day to cement relationships and discuss any issues
- Monthly all-together business day – at the very least, regular social events will help with onboarding and general team function
Nearly every aspect of working remotely is a positive but onboarding is one area that needs a fresh look, to make sure everyone feels integrated and included. You’ll get the best out of them and they’ll get the best out of you.