Having a new person joining any team or workplace has always been a challenge.
It is important to make new staff feel welcome, but also to educate them on how the company works, health and safety procedures and how to do their job. Much of this used to be done through various induction processes like meetings with managers, shadowing, welcome lunches at a local pub and more. However, with Covid 19 pushing most businesses to set up from home taking on a new starter and getting them integrated has certainly become harder.
Here are a few ideas and tips on how to bring a new member of the staff into the team in such a way that they feel welcome and are effective as soon as possible.
These ideas can work in a range of situations from forced home working to a mix of office time and home-based work.
Staff welcome packs
These are potentially a new thing for some people and not so new for others. New starter welcome packs are certainly a great idea for any business but they work really well for new starters who are joining from home initially or coming in part-time. Welcome packs can contain anything the business chooses but they tend to be filled with branded goodies likes hoodies, stationery, water bottles and maybe some additional treats like a luxury pen or some Bluetooth headphones. They are not only great because everyone likes free stuff, they also bring a sense of community and belonging to the new team member even if they are not physically in the office or workplace. They also show a business cares about its staff rather than just dumping work on their plate with a half-hearted welcome chat.
This may seem obvious, but it is an important factor to consider. When someone new started pre 2020 they would spend a day or two with various people and pretty much be left to their line manager to absorb and understand what’s going on. Training remote workers is very different! Remote workers miss something critical in this process and that is the chance to absorb. It is amazing what we pick up from working alongside people. Much of it isn’t even spoken, it’s overheard, it’s learnt behaviour and it’s really important. The downside of remote working is that no one naturally wants to have zoom open all day so the initial training period is often very broken up and set out in distinct sessions. What this misses is all that learning by osmosis that is so important. Taking on a new starter remotely or even partly remote means a big-time investment. You need to really plan how they are going to learn, and it may even be useful to suggest a few hours at a time co-working on zoom. However, this can be awkward depending on the home set up so be flexible and understanding.
The buddy system
Creating a buddy for any new starter is a good idea but in these odd times where work can be at home or a mix of different types, it makes even more sense. Assigning a buddy can mean your new starter has someone to jump on zoom with and ask all the silly questions that are totally normal in a new job. They can also ask more about the working environment as we look at returning to it. When they do arrive at the office or workplace they will also have someone they know well who can then show them around. It will be a challenge for a lot of people who have worked with a company for 6 months and never been in the office. The buddy isn’t automatically there to train, more just work alongside, and be there for quick questions using WhatsApp or similar.
Technical support and equipment
One thing that caused a lot of issues during home working was a bad home office set-up. It is critical that a company provides a new starter with a working laptop, phone and checks they have good internet. It may be that companies need a store of laptops they can send out during probation that is replaced with new ones once the person becomes permanent. They may also need to look at helping support a new starter with a better internet connection. Ignoring this can mean a poor experience for both parties, lost work time and damage to customers relationships. It is an additional cost compared to simply using the wifi in the office but it will make a huge difference. Even if the person is only working from home 2 days a week if those days are going to be productive that person needs the right equipment.
Everything is changing, we may be about to start moving back to “normal” working but it is fair to say home working will be playing a role for a long time to come. We may even have to deal with more lockdowns in the winter so making sure new staff feel welcome and are set up, happy and well trained at home may make all the difference.