A good recruitment process is key to securing the best finance and accountancy talent, as well as successful business growth. But the process doesn’t stop once new hires have accepted the job offer!

If companies want to retain these recruits, they should put just as much effort into the post-hire phase as the pre-hire recruitment process. A welcoming and seamless onboarding experience is a sure-fire way of engaging new employees from the outset and plays a critical role in their success and happiness.

But what about onboarding remotely?

Many firms have perfected their face-to-face inductions and introductions over the years, and the sudden shift to virtual onboarding has been a challenging adjustment.

However, remote working is here to stay as we see an increasingly hybrid approach to the workplace. So, if companies want their pick of the best finance and accountancy candidates, they need to get used to remote onboarding and start perfecting this process.

Onboarding in a hybrid work environment

Onboarding typically includes a series of activities that allow new hires to get to know their team, the company and the tools they need to fulfil their role. This process can be both formal and informal, and most organisations will find that a mixed approach works best. Formal onboarding might include workshops and training sessions, whilst informal onboarding can be more ad hoc and take the form of shadowing colleagues or team outings.

Since remote employees do not have as many opportunities to integrate into the company processes and culture organically, an excellent virtual onboarding process is even more critical in a hybrid work environment.

Some recruitment specialists say the onboarding period can last from a couple of weeks to three months, whilst others suggest that extending the process up to a year could improve employee retention and help new hires feel like part of the team. The length of the onboarding period will depend on a range of different factors, including the complexity of the recruit’s role and the organisational structure.

But one thing is certain: no company wants to spend all that time and money recruiting new candidates only for them to walk a few months or even a year down the line. This is why post-hire talent acquisition is an essential part of the overall recruitment process.

Five steps for successful onboarding

Many businesses make the mistake of thinking they can simply replicate their in-person onboarding processes and translate them to the online world. But in reality, remote onboarding often takes a lot more time, effort and admin!

So, here are five steps firms can take to break down the process and support new employees…

1. Make admin easy

Employment contracts and other legal documents are notoriously time-consuming, particularly if they have to print, scan, and post them. For remote workers, organisations should consider using legally binding tools such as DocuSign and HelloSign instead. It is also worth putting together a digital ‘welcome pack’ with information recruits might find helpful in their first days and months at the company, such as the best channels for asking questions and finding what they need. This pack can be sent out before the new starter’s first day.

2. Get all the tech in place

There is nothing worse than a new employee spending their entire first week going back and forth with the IT team. So, it is crucial to ensure they have everything they need straight away — from basic kit like a laptop or monitor, Wi-Fi capabilities and access to the VPN to instructions for setting up their workstation and log-in details for various software.

3. Develop a detailed plan

Without a clear structure and specific tasks to work on, it can be easy for new hires to feel unproductive and disconnected — especially if they are working from home on their own. Having a plan that includes meetings, cross-team collaboration and timelines for the employee to work towards will ensure they steadily get introduced to all the necessary people, processes and projects as they settle into the new rhythm of work.

This plan should cover all aspects of the onboarding process but, most importantly, include milestones that managers can use to measure how an employee is progressing through the process.

4. Build a connection

A key challenge for companies attempting to onboard remotely is building a connection between the team and new hires. When staff are scattered across various locations rather than sitting together in one office, it is easy for new team members to feel isolated.

Onboarding in cohorts is a great way to overcome this problem — not only does it make new recruits feel instantly part of a team, but it also makes training them much easier and less time-consuming. If this is not possible, assign the employee a ‘mentor’ or ‘buddy’ who can check in on them regularly, offer guidance and facilitate introductions to other people in the business. Informal, virtual ‘ice-breaker’ meetings are also a good way to introduce new hires to the wider team and get to know them on a more personal level.

5. Ask for feedback

As companies continue to adapt to the hybrid workplace and get to grips with remote onboarding, there are bound to be a few hiccups along the way. It is, therefore, vital to check in with new employees regularly to make sure they are progressing as expected and assess the effectiveness of the onboarding process. Based on the feedback, companies can then look to continuously improve the process for future hires.

The new starter and onboarding process has changed dramatically over the past year, and businesses that can adapt will be rewarded with a vast pool of quality candidates. If you need help refining your remote onboarding process, a financial recruitment specialist like Howett Thorpe can help. Keep an eye out for next month’s blog, where we will be looking at how some of our clients have successfully adapted their recruitment procedure through lockdown.