Covid-19 has changed the way we work, but it’s also led to recruiting and onboarding new employees remotely. Operations manager Jo Trendall shares her tips on how to do it successfully

One of the challenges facing employers right now is recruiting and onboarding new employees without having ever met them. This is becoming increasingly normal, and surprisingly, many employers are considering whether to continue with virtual onboarding post-pandemic as it’s been so successful and effective. 

So what’s the secret? During the pandemic we have placed dozens of apprenticeship candidates with new employers, and we’ve found there are four key things you can do to get things off on the right note:

1. Get your new employee to assess the business

The first thing we do is set candidates a business analysis task, and this is a really great way for the new recruits to get to understand the business: how it works, how it operates, its history and its status now. Some examples of questions within the task are:

  • How many employees? 
  • What’s the turnover? 
  • How long has it been going?
  • What’s the structure of the business?
  • Who owns it? 
  • Who’s the managing director
  • Who are the senior management team? 
  • Where does your role fit within the company? 

This is a great way for the new recruit to not only understand the business, but to also get to know the team.

2. Get them started with ‘dusty shelf’ tasks

The second thing is the ‘dusty shelf’. Every business has a dusty shelf with lots of tasks on it that you keep meaning to get round to doing but never quite do. It’s a great onboarding activity to give your new recruit. 

It might just be data input, organising videos that you’ve had in storage for a while or it could be as boring as sorting out the filing. But actually everything that your new recruit does in the early days will help them to understand how the business ticks and what’s involved. And although it might seem boring, it’s about highlighting how important it is that they understand every element of the business and how the filing actually plays into a much bigger picture. 

It will also give everyone on the team a great feeling to see some of these tasks get done! 

3. Make sure they meet the team even if it’s virtually

When your new recruit can’t bump into people making a cup of tea, you need to set up short meetings to introduce them. We take a whole-business approach with our digital marketing apprenticeship so we expect our new recruits to get to know each team member, what they do, what part they play within the business, what their responsibilities are and so on. 

This quickly integrates the recruit so they know who you mean when you say “Jane” or “Peter” and they get up to speed fast on who to go to about different aspects of the business.

4. Get their perspective on the business

The final part we use to culminate all of this is presenting back. Get your new employee to present back to you after one or two weeks what they’ve learned about the business. It’s really eye-opening for a business owner or manager to hear from somebody that has completely fresh eyes on the business, what their perspective is. It usually sparks some new ideas and is a really great part of that first onboarding period.

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