Over the past twelve months, we have made a number of key appointments, in what have been very challenging times for all of us. The career moves people have made have been more about changing email addresses and company allegiance and less about moving physically to a new company site or office. Even more challenging, has been the international moves which people have made without being able to visit the location beforehand.
What we have learned through this time is how vital it has been for companies to increase the resources, contact time and commitment to go beyond their normal onboarding policy and taking a far more bespoke integration approach. Where this support has fallen short we have seen major challenges, however thankfully most of our clients have taken a far more considered and prepared approach resulting in a more successful transition.
So what steps can we recommend? Besides our own experiences, we have dug into some research to see what best-practice looks like, and we have come up with a few headlines to use as a framework:
Identify an internal ‘sponsor’ or mentor dedicated to onboarding: In the virtual world, this is even more crucial because the new hire will not have colleagues around to ask the simple questions, which come out of a coffee break or popping into the next door office. The mentor should not be the manager but someone who they will work alongside and who has the qualities required to engage proactively with the new hire prior to the first day.
Create a connection to the company: as soon as the person accepts the job, it is important to make them feel part of the organisation. Reach out to them, include them in the weekly virtual get-togethers and immerse them in the values of the company. One client who appointed someone recently was quick to involve them in a theme day they were having – a 1920’s dress-up! As awkward as this might have felt, it would have helped bond the person to the team.
Get the technology in place before the start date: Many companies are not proactive at organising this, particularly in the remote setting. This can create stress and anxiety for the new appointee as they are unable to communicate via email or access to the intranet. This must be seen as a priority.
Set up regular and informal meetings with people across the organisation: This takes time and energy from team members who may already be juggling more than they would normally. However, this is so important to help build strong relationships, which might otherwise not be possible through the usual chat in the corridor or over lunch.
Set the framework of formal SOPs: What are the rules, responsibilities, and business objectives in the new company? Standard operational procedures need to be communicated on a 1-2-1 format. Explain the company culture and what is expected. You must assume that the new hire is oblivious to the way things are done and you need to take time and be patient in communicating this. Do not assume it will be as easy for them as it would be for someone already working in the office.
Set clear and achievable expectations: As a manager, you need to set a clear picture of what success looks like in the first six months and how the person will be supported to achieve this. Having a clear set of responsibilities and outcomes is critical to helping a new employee prioritise and sequence work and accomplish some quick wins that create a strong foundation for the persons success.
Onboarding is one of the most important drivers of employee success. Yes, we are hopefully coming out of remote working and into a hybrid arrangement. But even so, the dynamics of how we work in an organisation have changed. It is therefore even more important to ensure the time, money and energy you have put in to finding your new hire, is not lost in the fog of employee/company integration. A guiding principle is that every new hire should be taken on an onboarding journey from orientation, through integration, and ultimately to full effectiveness.