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Getting people online

The global crisis has led organisations to completely rethink and revitalise how they recruit and onboard new employees. We learn how to utilise the latest technologies and techniques to successfully bring new people onboard, wherever they are based

Over the last few months we’ve been forced to rethink our working lives, adopting new technology and processes to enable organisations to keep functioning despite the unprecedented challenges. These adjustments have not only affected existing employees but radically altered the recruitment process. For instance, the default way of interviewing potential candidates now is by video call something which would have been unusual only a few months ago when face-to-face was the norm.

According to Jacky Carter, Group Digital Engagement Director at Hays Talent Solutions(1) : “For the roles we’ve been asked to hire during the crisis so far, all parties are quite comfortable to take this crucial first meeting online, even though it’s a first time for many.

“We’ve even built a group assessment process which is entirely online, yet enables group interaction and offers the hiring team a chance to evaluate candidates in a group setting. Ensuring inclusivity is critical in those processes – everyone must be given equal access and opportunity.”

If securing a new job looks very different from what it was a few months ago, so are the processes involved in settling in remote based employees to their new roles. Anna Binder, Head of People at Asana, provides some useful tips to seamlessly onboard remote workers and make them feel part of the team:

  • Make the first-day count – Onboarding is a pivotal moment for making new hires feel included. Start by ensuring that all critical information, like internal communications channels, team directories, shared calendars are easily accessible. This may seem obvious but often existing teams fall into the trap of getting new employees ramped up and contributing before they’ve had time to settle in properly.
  • Your core focus for the day should be replicating the feeling of being in the same room as your new hire and helping them settle into your team culture. We do this by creating an online community for new hires on Slack and arranging virtual meetings and one-on-one coffee catch-ups so they feel connected to the wider team.
  • At the end of the day, managers should always check in with new hires to recap their first day, answer any questions and make sure they’re settling in. These practices can unearth areas for improvement and help employees feel heard and included.
  • Provide clarity on boundaries and expectations – Before your new hire joins, be sure to share what kind of flexibility your team offers, and how you communicate your availability when working from home. According to our research(2), nearly 60 per cent of global employees are working different hours now than before, and nearly 80 per cent of parents are home-schooling their children while managing work. This can be disorienting for new hires, especially those who are balancing more responsibilities at home.
  • Start by having your recruiters provide an overview, and then encourage managers to discuss details with the new hire. At Asana, we encourage all employees to mark their calendars with the hours that they are or aren’t available, and their needs for mental health breaks and regularly scheduled time off. Being at home and working is not a replacement for vacation days and honouring that is important.
  • Connect with your new hire before they start – We need connection now more than ever – especially when starting a new job remotely. It’s essential to provide managers with resources and guidance on how to successfully support new teammates, whether they’re starting their first day in the office or virtually. We encourage managers to reach out and get acquainted with new hires before their start date and request that they’re included on all pre-onboarding emails and encouraged to jump in to offer additional support. We also suggest setting up a mentorship program, where any new starters are connected with a designated peer who provides professional guidance, motivation, and emotional support. During the current climate, it’s increasingly important to ensure new hires have a direct line of communication with their manager and a teammate, so they can get questions answered and reduce the uncertainty that can build up before even starting.
  • Don’t assume that everyone has the same team norms – Be open and transparent with new hires by asking them how they prefer to communicate, and set clear agreements about how you will work together. Our research found that nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of global workers are using collaboration software, messaging and video conferencing tools more while working from home, and almost 25 per cent of US workers are using collaboration tools for the first time. Whether employees are working remote or in the office, it’s important to cultivate trust from day one. We encourage managers to start by being honest about their current work from home experience, broader expectations and boundaries, as well as any challenges they’ve faced. This creates a space for the new hire to feel safe to open up about their experience, ultimately fostering a strong, long-term relationship between managers and their team.

According to Carter, as we move through this crisis, recruitment and management needs to adapt, and employers will need to evolve their approach as they go, and look for new opportunities to connect. Says Carter: “We’re having to find new ways of having fun together over our video conferencing tool of choice and explore new ways to build and evolve our cultures in different ways than we’re used to.”

She concludes: “Having achieved all that it’s important to use this precious time to think about which parts of the ‘old normal’ you will take forward into the post-crisis era and why, and which you will happily wave goodbye to.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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