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Virtual on-boarding




It’s pretty obvious that we have been dealing with unprecedented levels of visual selections over the past few weeks. Whereas video interviewing and virtual competency testing are nothing new, at ExecutiveSurf we’ve seen many searches closed without so much as an actual handshake ever having taken place – in other words, the whole search has been conducted virtually from start to contract signature.
This is brave and something which would have been unthinkable for many of our clients just a few weeks ago. But in many cases, it’s happening through necessity. The company is designated as providing a critical service and for whatever reason, there is a vacancy that needs to be filled now.
This may feel like a big step but in many ways, it’s a trend that was happening anyway. And even with full actual face to face selection, there always has been an element of risk.
But what about on-boarding? Some placements ExecutiveSurf have recently made are now starting in their new roles. Virtually! Now this may have worked for some of those Full Stack coding roles where our new dev hire was never going to be a essential part of the social fabric of the company, but these are completely traditional finance, supply chain, marketing roles.
Let’s take a moment to revisit on-boarding in the virtual post Covid-19 world.

1. Make sure your docs are all in order
All legal admin issues can be sorted remotely: it is a legal requirement that you collect and register these documents (passport/ID card, national insurance number, bank details, diplomas) but this can all be done via email. An electronic candidate signature of the contract will suffice. Other technical issues such as setting the new starter up with email, CRM and IM should all be prepared in advance. Hardware on the other hand needs more planning than usual. Couriers are busy and a laptop can take weeks to arrive, be configured and dispatched to our new employee. Start now. Same goes for a car. If a car is promised in the contract, then a car needs to be sitting in the drive on start-date even if we are on lockdown. If a medical exam is required for the role, then check the feasibility of performing one before agreeing contractual start date. This might also be the case for membership of promised pension and insurance policies.

2. Prepare a welcome pack
If you don’t already have one, this is an ideal time to create it. After all, if you can get yourself in the headspace of how you would give the new starter a day one introduction to the company culture remotely, then it will be certainly be fit for purpose when the world returns to some kind of normality and new starters will usually actually show up at the premises on their first day.
Articulate your vision and values. Introduce the team, describe the comms tools you use, processes and stricter rules but also a more informal ‘how we get things done around here’. You should share relevant timetables and recurring deadlines, a staff directory, relevant technical docs that relate to the role, marketing decks etc. There is no reason for you to wait until day one to send these materials. So long as our starter has formally accepted, you should try to pass on these materials a week or two before D-day

 3. Designate a buddy
This doesn’t have to be you. You’ve got plenty of challenges on your plate. This can simply be another team member. You can introduce them over your videoconferencing platform and then leave once everybody is comfortable. They should be in touch from before start date and ideally daily afterwards. The buddy should take care of describing the environment – in a similar way that you would show them where the kitchen and facilities are, explaining how we do things around here, but primarily as a sounding board for any questions that may arise in the early days. As the boss, it is your job to set clear KPIs, but it will be the buddy’s role to describe the KPI culture and how best to achieve them. Be careful who you nominate for this role. Obviously we’re not after a rebel. We’re looking for a positive can-do attitude, an advocate for the company in general.

 4. First day
The first day is a key moment in the on-boarding process. It’s about making an amazing first impression. Let all employees know about our new hire with a brief intro over your messaging system. Obviously the team will want to know their new colleague’s professional background but make sure you bring in some personal info that the new starter is happy to share. A photo is brilliant. Hobbies and interests too. If it’s feasible, ask the team to do the same and organise a video coffee break or lunch for the intro’s. If at all possible, organise a brief welcome chat with the big boss. This can be to talk through the ‘Why’ of the company, his/her own ‘story’ and a few words on the values.

5. Communicate regularly
Bear in mind the first rule of on-boarding: it is not possible to over-communicate. In this unprecedented time of forced smart-working, your new starter will be plagued by questions and doubts. Remote on-boarding means being more available to the new recruit. It is vital that you nurture the nascent bond so that she does not feel cut off, to reassure her and answer her questions. The more personalised your interactions, the more comfortable she will feel in her new company and the more she will look forward to the day she can get her feet under an actual desk in an actual office!

This is a time of opportunity. Any gaps you have in your current on-boarding process will come under the glare of the spotlight if you are on-boarding remotely. By contrast, now is the time to fill those gaps, to sit back and reflect on what world class on-boarding should look like. This may be a first time you or your company has had to on-board remotely, but in our brave new world it is very unlikely to be the last

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