5 Tips for New Employee Orientation during COVID

a photo of an employee in a covid face mask

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The year 2020 saw a serious need to modify how businesses do many things, including hire and onboard new employees. One example is new employee orientation, which is the process of introducing new hires to the company, their coworkers, and their job duties, so that they can hit the ground running. With the effects of the pandemic expected to continue over the next few months, what are some lessons learned from 2020? What can employers do to improve new employee orientation during COVID?

After all, the work must go on.

How to Conduct New Employee Orientation during COVID

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Can’t I just do away with this process?” The answer is no. New employee orientation, even during COVID, is a critical aspect of the onboarding process, which is crucial for employee retention. Failure to onboard new hires can cause you lose some of them to your competitors.

On the flip side, when you conduct an onboarding program, your new employees feel welcome and wanted, which will lead to increased productivity and retention. All of this starts with new employee orientation. 

Seeing as how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shift in how we work these days, especially with many people now working from home, it has become essential that organizations alter some of their processes to get around these challenges.

Whereas a normal new employee orientation checklist would include events like:

  • An office tour
  • An in person introduction to team members
  • A sit down or lunch with members of their department, etc.

Many of the usual events are no longer possible or even necessary because of the pandemic. Even so, you should still consider organizing an orientation program for your new hires. So, how do you go about it? Here’s 5 tips for a successful onboarding.

Tip 1: Ensure Your New Hires Have the Necessary Equipment

Which equipment – hardware, software, stationary, office supplies, etc. – will your new employees require to be able to work effectively? Will you be providing them with these items or not?

Before your new employees start work, you should endeavor to have answers to the questions above. Make a list of the necessary equipment they will need to work efficiently and effectively, whether remote or not. If your company policy is to provide this equipment, order ahead of their start date and ensure they take delivery. If, on the other hand, the responsibility for procurement falls on them, ensure they know this much and have it all in place before their start date.

You definitely don’t want your new employees to get off to a bad start because they didn’t have the laptop they needed on time. But, given that the pandemic won’t last forever, also think about the processes you may want to have in place for this equipment after things get back to normal.

Tip 2: Organize a Virtual New Employee Orientation during COVID

After you make sure your employees have the right equipment (see Tip #1 above), it’s time to consider the orientation program itself. That your employees are working remotely does not negate the need for a new employee orientation seminar. This orientation program is essential because it allows you to introduce your employee to your company culture, explain their role in the organization on a day-to-day basis, take them through the process of signing mandatory documents, and much more. It also provides an opportunity for you to field questions about the employee handbook, which you should have sent to them beforehand.

Of course, it would be difficult to engage the new hires in a virtual program if you didn’t get them their equipment on time, which is why this is Tip #2 and not Tip #1!

Tip 3: Schedule an Introductory Call

Your new hires may work remotely, but they still need to get to know their coworkers and superiors to work effectively.

So, arrange an introductory call, preferably a video call, with their team members in attendance. Have everybody introduce themselves, what they do, and how it intersects with the purpose of new employees. To make the meeting fun and exciting, consider adding games. One example is an “online scavenger hunt,” where they search for specific images or websites and are rewarded if they win. For more ideas, just google ‘online new employee games’. You’ll get all kinds of suggestions.

Tip 4: Pair Them with A Mentor

To ensure your new hires settle down into their roles without a hitch, pair them with a mentor. Your new employees would ordinarily form working relationships with their team members in a typical office environment because of constant interaction. During the pandemic, however, such interactions are limited.

Pairing them with a mentor will help overcome this limitation. The reason: they can easily develop a positive relationship with their mentor, who can then help them bolster their relationships with other staff and help them network. Furthermore, their mentor can provide answers to their questions, help them understand the company culture, and provide the support necessary for their success.

Tip 5: Schedule Frequent Check-Ins

Finally, you should consider scheduling frequent check-ins between your new hires and relevant coworkers. These include their team members, managers, and employees from other departments they will work closely with. Doing this will help build their morale and also encourage them to cultivate healthy working relationships, even from a distance. Endeavor not to pile on them, though. Give them space to work, process, and settle down into their new role.

New Employee Orientation during COVID: Takeaways

Despite COVID-19, organizations still need to hire and onboard new employees. And given the importance of new employee orientation, businesses should consider holding virtual programs while the pandemic continues to be a problem. By leveraging technology and making one or two tweaks, you will be able to conduct a solid program and integrate new employees into your business. This will make them more productive and improve staff retention through this difficult period.

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