In the days leading up to the Prime Minister’s announcement that the country was entering a period of lockdown, little had changed when it came to hiring. But the moment Mr Johnson addressed the nation by saying, “The coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades,” many employers sought to defer their onboarding of new staff due to perceived difficulties in doing so.

In some aspects, that decision does make sense. After all, a critical element of any induction programme is the opportunity for new starters to meet and form a rapport with their new colleagues, get a better feel for the culture of the business, and attend various training sessions. However, hindsight has shown us how easily these things can be undertaken remotely.

Indeed, we have worked with a number of employers over the last few weeks on their onboarding strategy while their organisations are in containment mode. Most of whom have been surprised at how easily and successfully it can be done.

Here we will share with you the four key tactics that you can deploy in your organisation to ensure that you are able to onboard new employees in a seamless yet highly effective way:

1. Embrace technology

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks, or simply avoided logging onto Twitter and LinkedIn during that time, you won’t have failed to notice the impact that video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Ring Central are having. From the perspective of facilitating the interaction of new starters with the rest of the team who can all see each other on screen at the same time, to having the ability to deliver recordable webinars that can be shared and used as training sessions these platforms empower employers to engage with their new people in a highly effective way.

2. Keep in touch – often

Ongoing communication with new starters in the virtual realm is perhaps more important than at any other time. Remember, new starters will invariably have a number of questions that come up all the time, so it follows that their new line manager has a check in call or face-to-face via one of the video platforms above for 10 minutes each day. Not only does this simple act make the new employee feel valued and connected, it also a great way for said manager identify potential areas for development and identify future potential.

3. Feedback – often

Starting a new position can be a daunting prospect during normal times. At times like these it can be even harder. Most new employees look for a quick win within their first few weeks to prove that the decision to hire them was indeed the right one. But these are circumstances like no other, and key to support new starters at this time is to provide continual feedback on how well they are learning the ropes, the way they contributed to recent meetings, or the ideas they’re bringing to the table. Feedback on those intangibles is as important as for the tangibles which we are all guilty of obsessing over as business leaders. Now is not the time for continuing with that approach.

4. Show you care – often

Irrespective of whether your new hire is a seasoned professional or a fresh-faced graduate at the very start of their career, they won’t have experienced anything remotely close to what is taking place right now. Some people embrace and thrive when provided with the opportunity to work from home – free from the distractions of everyday office life. Others crave the buzz of the office and the ability to bounce ideas off one another. There will be those who have young children at home, which makes it difficult to be on hand nine to five. And there will be some living on their own and might struggle with the sense of isolation. It is important to understand how the current situation might be impacting your people and especially your new starters. They will be determined to impress their new employer and may feel increased levels of stress and anxiety during this time.