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6 months ago by Lucy Morgan

Recruitment and Onboarding remotely

​It’s fair to say that the world as we know it has changed, although hopefully that will be temporary; at least for now we live in a world that is entirely different to the one we knew just a few months ago. We wrote this article originally at the beginning of lockdown and of course, since then, some things have changed. One of the main changes is the focus on being in the office 5 days a week. Most offices aren't open at all and have no plans to open, some plan to open in 2021, some are open now with skeleton staff and a lot are in 1-2 days a week or just open for those who need it. Not being in the office has an impact on recruitment processes, and ultimately means that at least some of your recruiting and onboarding will need to be done virtually. So with this in mind, we've updated this article to make sure it's still relevant to the world we live in now.

What has also been refreshing throughout lockdown and through to now, is seeing some great approaches to solving the problem of recruiting or onboarding when your business is working remotely. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some examples of great ideas I have seen in the current market, that might help you solve a problem or two when it comes to hiring and onboarding new team members.

Running recruitment processes:

  • Using technology – this may seem obvious but there is a huge amount of technology available that can give you as close to a “face to face” experience as possible – Webex, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Hangouts are all examples our clients are using

  • Online case studies – part of your interview process might be a case study, and we have seen clients getting creative with completing these. Most commonly, clients are emailing out case studies and getting candidates to complete them in a set time i.e. email goes out at X time and case study must be sent back at Y time, and then using a video call to review

  • Testing – An excel or similar test can be done in the same way as the above, but we are seeing clients using online testing as part of their interview process. Some clients are introducing a numerical/verbal test as part of their process, especially to feel like they have done some additional screening when they haven’t met face to face

  • Personality profiling – Using a personality profiling tool such as DISC or Insight can give you a platform to learn more about someone, to build on your understanding of them as a person. Of course, using these methods of assessment requires someone in your business who’s been trained in how to interpret the results, but if this is something you’d like to learn more about (but don’t have the capability to implement internally), give us a shout as we can help!

  • Team interviews – if you can’t meet someone in person and you’re worried about whether this will impact the culture of your team, try setting up an additional interview with a member of the team or someone from another department. This could be a casual conversation but getting the green light from someone else on “fit to team” might help.

  • Face to face interviews - since we wrote this article things have changed slightly, where in some cases it is possible to meet candidates face to face. Below are suggestions for how you can make this work:

    • Limit the number of stages you do face to face, try and keep this to one and only have really key people involved in the meeting

    • Consider the purpose of the face to face meeting, and make sure both sides are getting value from the meeting

    • Make sure it's safe for both parties to come in, and everyone is comfortable with it

    • Meet in an open plan space or a large meeting room, where social distancing is possible

    • Make sure the person visiting is aware of your onsite safety rules and processes regarding Covid

    • Consider other safety measures like not shaking hands, having hand washing/antibacterial gel available when the person arrives for interview, where they should wait before the interview etc.

Onboarding from home:

  • Laptops and phones being sent by courier to the new starter – with instructions on how to set up at home and most importantly, contact details of a useful IT person they can call when it arrives!

  • Financial allowances for working from home technology – we have seen various examples of this, from allowing a new employee to buy a laptop themselves that can be reimbursed, or candidates just using their own laptops for the time being, until they can get in the office. We have also seen companies provide monthly internet or phone allowances, so candidates can make sure they have the right speed of internet or enough minutes on their contract to do their job properly.

  • Having the right tech in place - there is loads on offer, but having a software that allows people to communicate easily via chat, call or video is essential to remote working and onboarding. Pod uses Microsoft Teams and we feel like it does everything we need.

  • Onboarding sessions being done via video – if you have any pre-recorded training sessions, these are great for onboarding, especially at the moment. But you can also do video calls for general onboarding sessions, and run training or your normal meetings via video too. You should aim to space these out over a period of time, to ensure a new starter has enough "touch points" with the business. You can also consider linking a training session to a follow up activity, so your new trainee can go away and do a task straight after a session. I would also recommend you try and convert training sessions into follow up notes that can be sent after a video call, or create a PowerPoint that can be shared/presented during the session and/or sent through after.

  • Training being done by live video – lectures and seminars are still going on remotely, and on programmes such as Microsoft Teams one person can be live on camera, whilst everyone can watch them present, and still interact. You can do Q&A via live chat too! Why not include some of your existing staff in these sessions as refresher training so your new employee gets to meet and interact with more people? Or get someone in the team who is an expert on a particular activity to follow up 1-2-1 with the new starter?

  • Set up daily or regular online team meetings – make sure your new employee (or any employee for that matter!) feels included by having short daily team meetings, where everyone can just chat and catch up, in the same way you would socially in an office. This will help new employees feel like they are getting to know a business and its people too!

  • Give a new team member a buddy that they can video/chat with – make sure your new person has someone friendly they can ask for advice, so they don’t feel like they are constantly asking their manager for things, or someone they can go to if they need to chat with someone who isn’t their manager. This will also build new social connections for new employees, and help others stay in touch!

  • Create an onboarding pack for a new team member – think of the “softer” parts of onboarding – send an org chart with who is who, send useful numbers, send fun facts about each employee, send information about who is in different teams – this will help someone feel like part of the business!

  • Set up 1-2-1 intro video chats for the new team member – this could be with their team, everyone in the business, or key stakeholders that they would usually interact with if they joined the business in person.

  • Set up intro videos to introduce a new team member to any external points of contact – join the call yourself (or whoever is currently managing that relationship) and do a “face to face introduction” to key external suppliers/customers/contacts. This will also improve the handover of any relationship!

  • Face to face onboarding - as mentioned above, since we wrote this article some things have changed and some in person interaction is possible with new team members. Here are some things to consider:

    • On the person's first day, if it's safe to do so try and have them come to your office and meet their line manager in person. You can also cover off some of the basic induction things on this day, like setting up IT equipment!

    • If key stakeholders are visiting the office or working there sometimes, your new employee could come in for introductions (in a safe way!) to make them feel more like part of the business

    • Consider doing 1-2-1 training in an office if you can, again making sure it is social distanced and safe to do so.

    • Just because you can have some face to face interaction, don't just do the basics and forget all of the above! As you'll lose some of the great remote things you implemented whilst lockdown was in full swing.

If you want to have a chat about these ideas, or just a general conversation to discuss any problems in your business where we might be able to help, feel free to reach out to me on lucy.morgan@pod-talent.com – or drop a line to your usual Pod contact.

Wishing you all the best in the coming months, stay safe and look after each other.