Human Capital Management

Onboarding Employees During COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused employers to make significant changes to their business practices, including onboarding. Managers and new hires across the country are navigating the unchartered waters of remote onboarding. The onboarding process—which is designed to cultivate a long-term relationship between the employer and the employee while fostering a feeling of belonging and an affirmation of making the right choice—is one that is extremely important for both employers and employees.   

 Why Is Onboarding Important?   

According to the Academy of Management Journal, the first 90 days of employment is a pivotal period for employees to build rapport with a company, its management and their co-workers. When you share your company’s goals and values with your employees while simultaneously showing them how to do their jobs, everyone benefits.  

Below are a few best practices to consider when onboarding new employees during the COVID-19 pandemic: 

1. Update procedures in accordance with COVID-19 regulations

The first thing to note about your onboarding procedure is that it needs to change with regards to COVID-19. The way that your business operates has likely changed significantly due to the pandemic, so your onboarding process needs to be amended too. If employees are working remotely, interviews will also likely be held remotely. Traditional in-person paperwork should also be digitized, so it’s important to organize that before the new employee is hired.  

2. Get new employees started on the right technology  

Technology has become an extremely important part of how many team members carry out their work–even more so that before. Especially as employees are working outside the office, it’s key that everyone has access to the same software and technology- including the new hire. If the role requires a laptop or other device, be sure it’s set up before sending it out and that the new hire feels confident using it. Ensure that they receive the same training and resources other hires had and can reach out for further assistance.  

3. Set clear expectations with new hires  

A common mistake employers make with onboarding plans is not setting clear expectations. Because the onboarding process is now being done remotely and there isn’t someone in-person to monitor a new hire’s progress, setting expectations becomes even more important. Expectations that should be discussed include the company’s values, the team’s objectives and the new hire’s responsibilities.  

4. Welcome the new employee to the team  

One of the most vital aspects of onboarding should be the introduction of the new member of staff to the rest of the team. This can be much harder without a physical environment that you can necessarily rely on, so technology is essential here. Ensure that the new hire is meeting with a variety of, if not all, members of the team. Have current employees explain their roles and give words of encouragement. This can be done through formal meetings or casual Zoom happy hours- anything that best fits your organization’s culture.  

5. Match the new hire with a remote mentor  

One suggestion is to assign a mentor to new hires, something that can be highly advantageous to both parties. This opportunity gives new hires someone to contact for questions and helps mentors develop confidence and pride in their jobs. Encourage mentors to have daily check-ins with new hires to establish a professional relationship and help the new hires feel included.   

An effective onboarding program, regardless of whether it’s in-person, remote or a combination, provides employers with a solid starting point during which they can communicate their values to their employees and explain why they do what they do. It also helps new hires easily assimilate into company culture. An employee who has gone through a positive onboarding experience helps build a positive reputation for their company among talented job seekers.  

While onboarding new hires in these strange times is not ideal, the COVID-19 pandemic has required employers across the country to get creative. For more information around updating HR practices and more tips for onboarding employees, fill out the form below. 

Sources: Zywave and BenefitsPRO