Over the last few weeks, I have taken some time to catch up with people that I have placed into new roles, which have started during lock down. It is not new to check in with people, but it has been fascinating to see how the lock down has influenced induction for employers and employees alike at this unique time.
I wanted to share some of this learning, as it may help you if you are bringing a new employee into your team at this time. Also, if you are starting a new job soon, then there are some good tips for you here too!
For Employers, on a practical level, I have heard lovely stories of businesses getting IT tools and welcome packs to their new starters at their homes. This has usually come through courier / delivery and no expense has been spared. It is important! In many cases, line manages have organised this much earlier than they otherwise would have to ensure that it is there on time – a good initial, small tip – get organised early!
Furthermore, where managers had still tried to make this special – it had made all the difference. Personalised cards, notes, pads etc were all very well received. One client was able to drop IT equipment off at the end of the garden of her new employee, as she lived on the way to her weekly food shop – a lovely touch! They were able to wave and talk briefly via mobile phone from a distance – it was a nice little bit of socially distanced contact, that both really enjoyed.
With regards to the first day experience, the need to celebrate it, sounds even more important. Some have had Microsoft team ‘coffee welcomes’ in their first hour, others have had ‘virtual lunches’ and one even had ‘virtual evening drinks’. Again lovely to hear about. One new starter commented that she would not have been able to meet all her team colleagues so quickly in usual circumstances as the team typically travels a lot. That has really helped her speed up her feeling of belonging.
All commented that their experiences were above their expectations (people presumed day 1 would be limited to maybe watching some induction videos!). Clearly therefore, there is a huge opportunity to engage and impress!
To cement this, in terms of induction and learning pressure, a few have reported to me that they have had, what is in their view, a better induction than they would have expected if things were usual. Generally, I get a sense that businesses are quieter than usual. As a result, managers have more time and they can focus more on their new team member – every cloud! To balance that, one or two others have also commented that they feel ‘half started’. Without being there, it must be tough to feel fully up to speed (perhaps something for everyone to be mindful of ongoing). There was never any criticism of what people were doing – I guess its just the fact that not being able to meet face to face is of course helpful and important. Something I think for employers to be aware off – take extra care!
For the employee, again starting at a practical level, people have reported to me that they have felt the need to be very disciplined and proactive. Getting up on time, as you would if you were commuting to the office is a good hack to set you up for the day. Getting into business dress is another great trick to help get you into ‘work mode’.
Also, be mindful that it is likely to be different, so be prepared for the unexpected. You will not be eligible for the Furlough scheme, so you may work in circumstances where other team members and colleagues are furloughed and not around. This is the case for a few people that I have placed. One commented that it was strange, but, as he saw it, it was quite helpful. With just him and the line manager left working, he was benefiting from loads of virtual one 2 one time, allowing him to build a solid early relationship with his boss. Furthermore, the same people also commented that they felt the need to be braver! There was less opportunity to ask questions of colleagues, so they were jumping in at that deep end and getting stuck in, perhaps not always 100% sure that they were doing things correctly. I sensed that this was generally applauded by line managers so be brave and get stuck in!
Another commented to me that she has had needed to be very proactive about raising her visibility with her key stakeholders. Of course, without the option of walking into an office or just casually bumping into someone in the canteen, this could be a potential challenge. The person in question had done an amazing job at using technology to make introductions and get virtual meetings. Her personality would make this second nature, but this is something to think about before you start a new role. Who will you need to get virtual time with and is your Zoom, Skype literacy up to speed? How will you approach these people? Having a plan will help.
So overall, it is different, but it clearly does not have to be a worse experience. If both employer and employee are mindful of the challenges that they might face, then lock down is not a barrier to people starting and making a difference in their new roles.
Have you started a new role during lock down? Or have you welcomed a new team member during this strange time? I would love to hear about your experiences below.
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