For some companies, hiring continues during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many needing to bring new employees physically onboard to serve customer or product development needs.
In an environment of confusion, mixed messages, and fear, what should employers be doing during the talent acquisition process to ensure both new and existing employees feel confident and comfortable interacting with new staff members?
In this feature, we discuss some tips and best practices for remote hiring and onboarding. We’ve included input from experts in Human Resources and employment law.
You Can’t Be Too Detailed About the Logistics of Onboarding
Starting a new job is an exciting endeavor in any climate, but it’s also something that can cause anxiety, particularly with unknowns. That is especially true in the current business and economic climate, in which the country is emerging from lockdowns and remote working situations in a patchwork fashion state by state, county by county, and company by company.
Companies need to make very clear to employees exactly how their first days, weeks, and months on the job will go. How will they get their equipment? When will they actually come into the office?
“Even prior to the pandemic, it was always a best practice to have a written plan in place—especially for onboarding someone new,” says Ginger Barry Boyd, a partner with law firm Nelson Mullins. “That remains unchanged. Sharing a written plan provides a certain level of comfort for what the company’s expectations are for the new employee and actions the company is taking to provide a safe working environment.”
Understandably, companies have a lot of unknowns themselves when it comes to onboarding and the company situation in general. Part of a detailed hiring process and onboarding plan includes sharing what questions remain, which brings us to our next best practice.
Be Proactive in Addressing Health and Safety Concerns
The elephant in the room for virtually every company in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is concern for employee health and safety. Employers should be proactive in discussing this topic, even if candidates don’t bring it up first.
“Create an opportunity to have an honest and open dialogue about concerns related to being in the workplace or appropriateness on video as the case may be. The new person won’t be comfortable asking questions about personal concerns so you need to prompt and encourage the discussion,” says Bob Clark, CEO of Rockford, Illinois-based executive search firm Furst Group. “These would include expectations about social distancing, use of masks, office cleaning processes, and even access to sanitizer.”
Transparency and Company Health
Health and safety are not the only concerns for candidates looking to start a new job. Candidates are fearful of their job security. Many may be looking for jobs because their previous employers laid them off or went out of business.
It’s not fair for candidates to have to guess about whether the company they are interviewing with is at risk of going out of business. That unknown might make candidates pass up on an offer in favor of an opportunity that seems more secure.
“More than ever before, employers need to be transparent about processes, work expectations and the health of the business during this pandemic,” says Dawn Mitchell, VP of Human Resources for Appian. Employees are as concerned about job security as they are about personal safety. It’s important for employers to keep the employee experience top of mind and to take steps to ensure their needs and concerns are being addressed.
“During this unprecedented time, it’s integral to ensure there is a clear and concise message to instill confidence amongst your employees,” says Mitchell. “It’s even more critical to weave that message throughout every touch point of the candidate to the employee journey. From their first conversation with your Talent Acquisition team, to their interactions with your Human Resources department during onboarding—what they hear regarding the state of your company should remain consistent.”
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