Ensuring your brand’s unique proposition for employees is maintained and communicated effectively can be difficult at the best of times, let alone amid a worldwide pandemic. In this environment, global organisations are having to evolve and adapt to the prospect of recruiting and onboarding remote workers, while simultaneously preserving their employer brand.
While many businesses are sadly struggling, others are still looking to expand their team during these unusual times. However, traditional methods of successfully finding and onboarding candidates have been put on the back-burner for the time being. As brands look to keep the talent rolling in, they need to explore more unorthodox methods to ensure their brand remains prominent.
We’ve broken down some essential tips to consider when recruiting and onboarding remote workers…
Your recruiting checklist for remote employees
Make the most of video interviews
Though some companies utilised video interviews prior to the crisis, it will never quite live up to the experience of a candidate’s physical presence. As remote employment will be here for the foreseeable future, it’s important to try and normalise the experience for candidates as much as humanly possible.
An in-person interview provides many natural opportunities for small talk and rapport to build. That’s why providing a loose agenda for the interview prior to the video call can help put candidates at ease, and, without revealing too much, give them enough confidence to progress certain parts of the conversation more confidently. Ensuring that you and any other representatives from your company arrive early will prevent the candidate from becoming increasingly nervous while waiting for you to appear.
They might not be able to see the office, feel the buzz and culture or all of the faces that keep the company running, but the impression given by those on the call will be integral for a potential recruit’s first impression. Your hiring manager may want to consider having someone from your branding team on the call, to answer some of the questions the candidate may have and help weave in the narrative that conveys what the company is about.
Finally, remember that tech issues can’t always be avoided, so make sure you don’t penalise any candidates if they struggle to get connected – it could happen to you, too!
Choose questions that encompass the essence of your brand
Outside of your regular interviewing process, special emphasis should be placed on ensuring the candidate is a cultural fit for the business during this age of remote employment. Ask them how they would handle certain situations or challenges to determine whether they’re aligned with your company values and ways of thinking.
For example, if part of your EVP is empowering your employees to make decisions, and every answer the candidate gives you doesn’t include them finding a solution for themselves, they may either be unsuitable or require more training.
While candidates typically ask anything from 2-5 questions at the end of an interview, allow additional time for a video interview. As they have lacked the experience of your brand and company in the physical sense, they may want to probe further on company culture and get a feel for what it’s like to work for you.
Your onboarding checklist for remote employees
Be flexible but not disorganised
From the moment a job offer is made, the range of steps to getting an employee on board can take up to 6 weeks with notice periods and other considerations. It’s possible that a higher volume of candidates being interviewed may have been let go from their prior jobs as a result of the current climate, or that because of this period of remote employment, onboarding time could be significantly reduced.
Candidates are going to feel a lot of unease between being offered the job and signing the contract, so ensuring that they’re kept informed at every stage possible is absolutely critical. Particularly when it comes to onboarding remote employees, the challenge of not having face-to-face contact can make the whole experience feel more distant and unwelcoming if not handled correctly.
As a hiring manager or another member of the leadership team, you may be stretched with time and therefore unable to answer every question or support the training of a remote employee. Assigning them a ‘buddy’ could prove beneficial in relieving some of the pressure from your team, and also giving them a chance to virtually socialise with someone they will be working alongside. When teams do return to the office, they will have made a friend, not just have to rely on recognising faces from Zoom calls.
Whilst new employees work from home, you may want to introduce one-to-ones more regularly than you typically would. This will allow them to ask any questions they have or voice concerns.
Company literature is more important than ever
While many conversations will have taken place during the recruitment phase, it’s important for remote employees during onboarding to have something tangible that really solidifies what it means to be part of your company.
Digital PDF brochures, toolkits or handbooks are a great way to introduce the company in more detail and, in particular, the departments the individual will be working in or alongside. It may be worth updating documents to include sections such as ‘Meet the team’ or ‘Life at Company’ if these don’t exist already. Anything that can paint an accurate picture of what working life will be like upon the workforce’s return will help new employees feel more embedded.
An effective way to do this is by setting up your own onboarding portal. With all this critical company literature accessible in one central, online location, the process of welcoming, onboarding and training remote employees can be made significantly simpler, both for recruits and employers.
Likewise, if there are any guidelines, DAM systems, or other resources critical to this person’s role, they should be provided with instructions for these and guided by the hiring manager, department manager or their assigned buddy.
Training remote employees is a challenge more global companies are waking to in this current environment. Utilise interactive training courses where possible and pre-recorded product demos to engage your new recruits when you can’t work with them face-to-face. And, of course, make sure someone is there to follow up these sessions to answer any questions your new team members may have.
Make sure their technology is set up correctly
For many companies, the process of onboarding remote workers has opened a potential can of worms of ensuring the candidate not only understands your values and culture, but also can access all of the relevant information and tools they need to perform their work. This is a crucial part of your onboarding checklist in the current landscape, as without this in mind your remote workers can be cut adrift from the rest of your organisation.
The last thing you want on their first day is a flurry of back-and-forth messages between them and IT. Not only does this make for an unpleasant experience for a new hire, who may feel the organisation doesn’t care about its staff enough to be prepared for their arrival, but it also hurts the productivity of your IT team as a result of these distractions.
To prevent this, ensure you have delivered all necessary hardware to the person in question well in advance of their start date, and you have arranged any necessary training for the remote employee with your IT department to help them set up their digital workstation. This ensures they feel comfortable with their role and responsibilities early, minimising any awkwardness at the start of their remote employment.
Encourage transparency from leaders
If you’re part of a big firm, it’s easy for news from the top to get filtered down incorrectly if there’s not a watertight communications strategy in place. While decision-makers might not be able to address everyone individually, at the very least you should try to set up bi-monthly calls or email newsletters.
With regards to onboarding remote employees, they could potentially feel tense about their new environment and the restrictions of not being able to meet their teammates face-to-face or see their workplace first-hand. So, updates and guidance from the top of the organisation will give them reassurance that their company prioritises communication, isn’t interpersonal with employees and will likely be responsive to any ideas and concerns that they may have moving forward.
This is where the value of assigning either a dedicated buddy or mentor again proves effective – they can build on the transparency displayed by the leadership team in order to help them feel welcomed and embedded in company culture, which is especially important at a time where they’re compelled to stay at home.
Teams have their hands full with recruiting and onboarding remote workers
We hope that these tips will be useful in your efforts to overcome the challenges presented by the current landscape and support your recruitment and onboarding of remote workers. These times will prove challenging for many but we’re certain that brands will come out of this stronger and more defined than ever – perhaps even a little different than before.
In fact, it might be a cloud with a long-term silver lining. As you refine your recruitment and onboarding processes, this not only allows you to be more flexible and contemporary in how you connect with the next generation of employees, but extends your reach in terms of bringing qualified people from around the world into your team and embedding them into your culture.
Whatever circumstances you’re facing – less budget, increased pressure to recruit, team redundancies – we hope this article has helped to shine a light on some remedies to the issues of recruiting and onboarding remote workers.
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