Inducting staff during the Covid-19 pandemic

Posted on 1st May 2020

With the Covid-19 crisis pushing more and more of us to work from home, many of our clients may have concerns about the induction and training of new staff when not being able to do this face to face. How do employers engage new staff when they may not meet any of their colleagues in person for some weeks? Here we have put together some guidance for employers based on onboarding new employees who are working remotely from day one.

Can I still employ new staff?

Absolutely!  If you have roles that need filling and they can be carried out within current restrictions, then there is nothing to stop you.

If you have employed new staff members either prior to, or during the crisis, you may need to go ahead and honour their start date for either the needs of the business or to avoid being in breach of contract.

What should I consider before the employee starts work?

Employers should review the induction processes that rely on face to face interactions and plan how to best achieve these remotely. Options such as online training and video calls could be considered.

Employers should also establish what technology the new employees have at home, such as access to broadband, a telephone line and somewhere suitable to work.

Should I have a Homeworking Policy?

It is important that employers have a robust Homeworking Policy to ensure that employees know what is expected of them from day one.

If you need any help with putting together a Homeworking Policy, the dedicated HR Consultants at Gateway HR and Training are here to assist you.  See our separate guidance.

How will I make sure they have the resources they need?

Employers should make an assessment of the role and decide what resources the employee needs to carry out the role from home. Things to consider are:

  • Laptops with video call apps installed
  • Phones
  • Stationery
  • Other equipment and consumables such as printers and ink

What about technology?

Employers should ensure that their new employee is provided with appropriate equipment and any passwords they may need for emails, video call technology, VPN access etc.

I have provided the resources so how should I manage their first day?

We strongly recommend that employers have a welcome phone call with the new starter on their first day.  Depending on your organisation this could be just from their line manager or it may be line manager and someone from your HR team (if you have one).

Follow this up with a welcome email, with this you may wish to send the company organisation chart, employee handbook, new starter forms, payroll information and working from home policy.

It is also a good idea to organise a video call meeting early on the first day to introduce the employee to their new team.

How do I plan the first week?

An induction plan for the first week or two should be considered which outlines what is expected from the new employee.

Employers may also wish to consider buddying the new employee up with another, more experienced, team member to give support and training.

How do I ensure that I am communicating enough with my new employee?

Communicating regularly with employees while they are working from home will ensure that they feel part of the team early on.

Things to consider could be daily video meetings, virtual drinks every Friday, buddying the employee with a different team member each week to help them build relationships and employers ensuring they are available to address any concerns the employee is having.

Can I train my new employee remotely?

There are many ways that training can take place remotely such as video calls, webinars and online training platforms.

Employers should assess which method would best suit the needs of the business. They may wish to use different methods for different training.

Gateway HR and Training can offer remote training to assist employers with their training needs.

I feel that the induction process may take longer while carrying it out remotely.

It may take a little longer to carry out a full induction remotely. The important topics to cover are:

  • New starter information
  • Introduction to the new team
  • Company mission, vision and values – ideally a session from a senior manager
  • Understanding of how the company is structured
  • Employee handbook review
  • Training
  • What is expected of the employee such as job description, working hours etc
  • How you keep in touch
  • Who the employee can contact with any concerns
  • Who will support the employee through the first week or two

How will I manage the wellbeing of my employee?

Working from home can feel isolating at the best of times, so it is important that employers stay in touch to check on employee wellbeing as well as work topics.

If the company has an EAP, employers should ensure their new employee has access to it and knows what services can be provided such as counselling and financial.

As always, if you need our help with this or any other HR advice then do call us on 01536 215240.

Carla Cifaldi Character
Written by:
Carla Cifaldi
HR Consultant