While there has been some great headway made with the Covid-19 response so far, many New Zealand businesses look set to continue to work from home for the short to medium term at least.
In this environment, companies hiring are adapting to the situation and finding different ways to onboard new contractors to their teams virtually.
In many ways, onboarding a contractor or temporary employee is similar to hiring a permanent employee. This should be a positive experience that engages the contractor, gives them a solid introduction to your organisation and gets them up to speed quickly.
Without the opportunity to meet face to face or to make a site visit, the onboarding process becomes more important. Thankfully, great technology and ingenuity means the onboarding process can be done just as well remotely.
In this update, we look at how to successfully welcome a contractor to your team remotely.
Just as you would with an office or site-based induction, there are key considerations that need to be planned in advance so your contractor can start on time, on the right foot.
If you are supplying technology, it is advisable to allow extra time for this to be ordered and delivered. Couriers are busy right now so it is likely deliveries will take longer than normal. Make sure IT assistance is available in case remote help is needed to get computers and phones set up.
Your onboarding programme and schedule should be finalised and sent in advance. Consider whether it is appropriate to send your contractor other items that you normally provide to permanent employees, such as a diary, coffee mug, or custom ‘welcome pack’ gifts. These gestures make a big difference.
While each employer’s onboarding programme will look different, a clear schedule ensures the contractor knows what to expect.
Your schedule will include virtual one-to-one and team meetings with people your contractor will work with and needs to build relationships with.
Many organisations already have online training modules for new starters and these are useful for contracting staff as well.
Your new recruit will need to be familiar with key policies, including health and safety, and they will need a copy of, or know where to access, information such as the intranet, the organisation chart and contact details for the colleagues they will be working with.
One to one support and check-ins
Direct managers should set more time aside to meet with and check-in with a new contractor who is working remotely. This will help them understand performance expectations, deliverables and milestones.
Make sure there is an open line of communication so your new contractor feels able to get in touch with you if they need support outside of scheduled meetings.
Assign a colleague to act as a buddy – this should be someone they can go to when they have a question or they need help that doesn’t require involvement from a manager.
There will not be many of us who haven’t been in a situation where we’ve had to ask the person sitting next to us (multiple times!!) how to navigate a seemingly simple, new task. These are questions people might not feel comfortable asking a manager, which is where having a buddy works really well.
A high level of support and regular check-ins will help your new recruit feel at ease and help them to deliver quicker.
While contractors and temporary employees are with a business for a fixed period of time, it is still vital that they feel engaged with the organisation.
A virtual introduction need not be a barrier to a new starter understanding the values or experiencing the culture.
It has been great to hear about so many businesses adopting virtual get togethers such as morning teas, coffee catch ups, Friday drinks, team chats and even Pub Quizzes. These are great ways to continue to build engagement among the team as well as your new contractor. Also, it is an opportunity for your new starter to get to know employees as individuals, as well as colleagues.
Points to note
Beware of overloading! Everyone has different learning styles and some people may find a virtual onboarding more challenging than others. Regular check-ins, a varied programme and regular breaks should help to alleviate some of these challenges.
At the moment in particular many people are balancing work with childcare so make allowances for this. It might mean they work less, or varied, hours.
Remember to ask your contractor how they found the onboarding process – check what they enjoyed, what they found useful and where there are areas for improvement. Their feedback will help you refine the onboarding experience for future contractors, as well as permanent employees.
It may be that we continue to see an increase in the number of people working from home or remotely, even when lockdown restrictions ease and organisations adjust to the new normal. In which case, thinking about the best way to onboard contractors remotely now or soon into the future will make sense for many employers.
If you have any questions or would like further information about contracting in the Accounting or Finance space, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Jason Hinton heads up the Contracting function for Hunter Campbell where he and his team specialise in recruiting contractors across the full Accounting spectrum from Accounting Support through to the Interim CFO level.