With some businesses slowly transitioning back to offices and others remaining remote, it’s more important than ever that every new talent’s onboarding experience is consistent, positive, and informative.
I’ve recently joined Aquent Australia remotely, and my onboarding experience has been outstanding. This experience and feedback is mirrored by all those who have joined globally. What stood out was the level of detail they had gone to, including videos of senior leaders from each team sharing their love for the company, comprehensive training videos, virtual team lunches with a free Uber eats of our choice and scheduled meetings with Alex Kenning, Aquent’s MD and Sonia Gouveia, Aquent’s GM to run through the Aquent brand, their services, what we do differently, and how I was about to impact that.
This got me thinking about what makes for good and bad onboarding experiences. Of course, we aren’t saying we are perfect, but these pointers could be the food for thought you need to see positive change in your business.
1. Lack of forward planning
If you’re like me, you like to know where you’re going, what time to be there and how to get there. It reduces potential additional stress we may experience, allows us to plan our day accordingly and means that any slight bumps in the road can be handled calmly and quickly.
The same can be said for that first day!
There are many ways to get that first day wrong, from laptops going missing with couriers, hiring managers not being on time/off sick or no clear structure around what that candidate will be doing and when.
This can all be easily avoided.
Example – The candidate got a text message at 7:30 am on the day they were starting with instructions for their start at 9:30 am. They had received no information on what to expect prior to that, which had left them feeling unprepared, unsure, and already asking big questions about how the business operates.
2. Lack of communication within internal teams
COVID has at times caused the line between work and home hours to blur — we’re spending more time at our screens and less time interacting with humans —and this can have a real knock-on effect on how teams communicate with one another.
Tools such as Slack, Teams, and so many others, have helped bridge that gap between nipping to a colleague’s desk and being remote. But it’s not perfect, and things can sometimes fall through the cracks. The process must remain, especially when it comes to security, legislation, and logistics, and it’s essential to have a clear process that everyone is on board with. e.g. Regular internal catch-ups and deadlines.
Example – The Candidate had been confirmed to start in a contract role on a Monday morning. They received a notification from the client's HR team at 4 pm on the last Friday afternoon saying they couldn't commence until a police check had been completed.
Unfortunately, situations like this happen more often than you’d think due to the lack of communication between the hiring team, HR and compliance, and often results in delayed start dates.
3. Going the extra mile
There’s nothing that compares to that first day — meeting the new team, setting up your desk, scoping out the local coffee shop or after-work watering hole.
With the current restrictions in place, remote onboarding has become the new normal. However, companies are finding workarounds to ensure a smooth process for new starters, and we love their innovation!
Example - A hiring manager and the new starter lived in the same LGA, and they met them for a coffee and a walk to ensure they met at least one person from the team, ran through their next few weeks and got to know them on a more personal level.
A client we work with that has national offices has been flying candidates interstate to places where freedom was allowed to complete 3-4 days of onsite onboarding, meet and greets etc. What better way to start a role than with a cheeky trip too?
4. Getting the whole team involved
Depending on the interview process the new starter has been through, they may have only met one or two key team members, and their onboarding will likely be a haze of names, roles, and responsibilities.
A personalised and bespoke roadmap for their first few weeks/months is a fantastic way to involve different teams, individuals, and clients in bite-sized quantities.
Example – One of our clients created a complete and detailed programme for the candidate, which included the people they would speak to on their first day, tasks they would need to complete and milestones to aim for. This was shared a week before they started, giving them plenty of time to ask questions and take it all in.
We know it’s not always easy to get this right, and that’s where we can help!
Sometimes it’s just a lack of practise
We worked with a company recently that had not hired someone into their team for 8 years. They were not sure about onboarding in general, let alone remote onboarding.
Something as simple as coordinating a start date around laptop delivery were things they hadn't thought about and needed advice on. As it turned out, the whole thing went smoothly, but it shows that sometimes onboarding can be a success or failure simply because they're not sure how it should be organised. If that is the case, they should seek help from their recruiter or internal HR team if they have one to assist.
A final thought about vaccinations and returning to working onsite: most new starters will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to go into the office.
At what point should this be managed?
Our advice is to do so during the hiring process. Request an immunisation history statement or proof of vaccination upfront to save a potential issue occurring on the first day if proof isn’t available or your new hire has not had their jabs.