Five Ideas for Better Onboarding in a WFH/Hybrid Environment

Speaking to a number of house building MDs over the past few weeks a common theme has come up: onboarding of new recruits.

This is proving a challenge as many people are working from home to a far greater degree than ever before. It’s just harder to recreate the informal ‘welcome to the firm’ experience with a half empty office and reduced time for new employees to spend directly with colleagues and their manager.

So here are five ideas to help you adapt to the present (and maybe future) working arrangements:

1.Create plenty of post-offer touchpoints with new recruits

Forming a positive working relationship with your new employee before they start is more important than ever. Use the time they are serving notice elsewhere to arrange to meet up, chat on the phone, or have a video call to talk informally. Do this multiple times.

Focus your conversations around how their first few days and weeks will look and who they will be working with most closely. Give them plenty of opportunity to ask questions and signpost them to people in the business who can help them with their settling in period.

2.Encourage a collaborative effort to welcome a new starter

Get your colleagues to take joint responsibility for welcoming your new starter. Task them with coming up with ideas to help your new employee find their feet. This could be anything from showing them around the office to organizing a zoom lunch for the whole team. This way there will always be someone in the office who is helping the new starter bed in and will demonstrate that everyone is invested in them being a success.

3.Establish two way feedback early and often

Create a regular confidential process which allows you to both provide and receive feedback from your new employee. You won’t have as much opportunity to pick up on the informal signals from your team or the individual as to how the first few weeks are going so having a clear, discrete process that creates a new channel for feedback is crucial.

If there are any problems you will be able to respond before it’s too late. Keep in mind a new starter may be reluctant to speak up about concerns so creating the right environment for them to do so is critical.

4.Trust the abilities of your new starters and build their confidence

House building is a traditional industry which offered very little remote working before the pandemic. For that reason many senior managers have been on a journey of developing trust in employees they are no longer sharing an office with for five days a week. It’s crucial that this trust is extended to new starters. Remember why you hired them and what they bring to the business.

Avoid the temptation to micromanage and, instead, focus on building up their confidence to work autonomously and take ownership of their workload. Be clear and realistic about what you expect from them over an initial time period. Their path to productivity will be much quicker as a result.

5.Create a well-documented remote onboarding process

Formalise your onboarding changes into a universally agreed upon process which is clearly documented. Make it part of your company culture and a consistent set of action points that give every new employee a great start to working from your company whether they are in the office, working remotely or a hybrid.

I hope these points give you some ideas on how to improve your onboarding process for your new colleagues. 

If you have any questions or suggestions not mentioned here I would love to hear them. Feel free to email me or give me a call on 07946 577145.

Simon Edbury