Rachael Brooks / 21 May

‘Virtual’ onboarding: connection is key

With many investment management firms now hiring remotely, both hiring firms and new hires are finding success adapting to new onboarding processes.

Flexibility is key

A successful onboarding process requires maximum flexibility from both candidates and hiring firms. The most successful examples we’ve seen thus far have been built on a foundation of adaptability and resilience on both sides.

For their part, successful firms are placing a great emphasis on making new employees feel connected and integrated with their teams and the wider business. Starting a new role and working remotely from day one is very daunting for a new starter.

Get to know you

The ‘get to know you’ phase is now being conducted with serial virtual meetings. A carefully structured and scheduled first couple weeks, with video meetings and calls every day really helps. It gives entering team members a sense of their new team and colleagues, alongside the culture of the wider firm.

Leaving a few minutes between meetings can help the new hire move effectively between them, and give them a chance to get a cup of tea and rest.

A daily check-in with direct reports and/or the wider team is a worthwhile investment in time, especially during that first few crucial weeks.

Team integration and cohesion

Team virtual social hours, such as coffee mornings, virtual fitness activities or happy hours on a Friday can also facilitate new hire integration and team cohesion. Some firms are using a less-formal ‘virtual coffee’ rota system across all their teams, not just new hires, in order to keep and build connections within and across teams.

We very much encourage our new hires to take advantage of these chances to build relationships with their new colleagues.

Among the adaptations contributing to firm success is the use of virtual ‘buddies’. This gives candidates someone to go to with low-level questions if they don’t want to bother their manager.

Technology has a place

Clearly video conference technology has a central role, but also using collaboration software adds to successes. Collaboration and workflow tools are taking on ever more significant roles when teams onboard and work remotely. We’re seeing an uptick in use of tools such as Slack, or (in marketing/content) Kapost, among others.

But good old-fashioned couriers are still needed, as companies are becoming more efficient at sending out laptops, screens, materials, and even desks and chairs to new hires.

First impressions still matter!

They key thing to remember during a virtual hiring and onboarding process, for both candidates and hiring firms, is that first impressions still matter. We’ve heard of a few instructive anecdotes worth repeating.

Recently, two candidates were in a virtual tie for a role, with only one interview left to go with senior managers of the firm. One candidate took great care over having a professional appearance, with a high standard of dress, while the other went for more of a ‘working at home’ business casual look. The smart candidate was offered the role and the feedback came back that that candidate obviously took the role more seriously. Fair or not, the lesson is that first impressions still matter, even on video link.

This extends to the first few weeks of work during the onboarding process as managers and new hires work through the process. Being highly conscious of putting your best foot forward and also being aware of what is in the background of initial first meetings will help both new hires and hiring firms put their best foot forward.

Email us at info@masonblake.com with your thoughts, or for more information contact: Kelly.Liddle@masonblake.com

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