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Stephen Dracup, COO at Chess, looks at the three key things we learned about how to adapt our new starters onboarding process to make it work virtually, including: 

 

Remote/Hybrid working has created many positives around recruiting talent. We can widen our recruitment search area, reduce office and infrastructure costs and improve employee engagement, to name but a few.

However, the challenge it creates is how you onboard new people when you have never met them face-to-face? This is a challenge we have faced as we entered into growth mode in January, and here are the three key things we learned about how to adapt to make this work.

Set your people up with the right kit

The tech you give to new starters is incredibly important nowadays, and you only get one chance to make a first impression. New devices, the latest software and up to date digital tools all show that you are willing to invest in your workforce.

45% of people admit that their personal devices are more powerful than their work ones. Therefore, as a business, providing the latest and greatest tech means you will minimise the BYOD (bring your own device) trend and help reduce data breaches. 

Also, consider converging your technology as much as possible to ensure a seamless experience. Almost two-thirds of people need to switch between ten different apps to get work done, wasting over a month of productivity per year

Don’t forget the workspace and ensure your new starters have the right setup to work from home comfortably and connect with ease. Broadband, desks, cameras and speakers are all key.

At Chess, we’re lucky to use Microsoft’s tech stack for most of our process or other tools that integrate with it, such as Sage and Teams Voice. Minimising how many tools we use, just within our recruitment team, helped us save over £50k a year. We also lease many of our devices such as laptops, mobiles and phones to spread the cost.

 

Have a clear training plan

No matter what industry or level you’re hiring at, you will need to train new starters on your systems, procedures, and product portfolio. You basically need to get them to feel like part of the company as soon as you can.

We do excellent induction so that our new people get to understand our business from the very start. This is a 4- day course which introduces our people to our senior team, our products, our strategy and finishes with each of them presenting their blueprint for future success.

All our new starters get a training plan on arrival, and this gives them a sense of purpose and helps them to feel included from the get-go. Agreeing goals and objectives at the beginning of your new people’s journey with the company gives them ownership of their personal development. Review progress regularly and give clear, constructive feedback. We use our engage platform for monthly 121s, although we would recommend more frequent informal catch-ups in between as well.

We have invested in a Learning Management System that guides our people through the knowledge they need to perform well in their new role. This journey is supported by our Knowledge team, sales coaches, and leaders.

What Makes Us a Best Company to Work For

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Ensure they are part of your culture

Before remote working was the norm, our culture was very much focused around our offices. People working in one of our 6 locations would feel a sense of belonging to their office and part of the wider business. We invested money and effort to make the office a great place (cafes, pool tables, table tennis, etc.). We worked hard on building these local communities with organised events and fun activities.

Now the offices are no longer the hub they used to be – we have worked hard to build that sense of team across our virtual platforms, especially Microsoft Teams. However, beware that stats suggest that there is a tendency for teams to become more siloed and lose touch with the wider business, now that the opportunity to bump into people is no longer there. Our Cultural Ambassadors are working hard to get around this, organising virtual company-wide events and fun activities. They have set up weekly coffee hours, where two of our CAs on a rota are on-line, ready to have a virtual coffee and chat about anything with our people.

Remote Collaboration with Microsoft Teams

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Our senior management team also used to spend a lot of time travelling between offices to meet their people face to face. This is now impossible and has freed time up. It is tempting to focus on other matters, but we need to remember that the reason for the travel was to meet, engage with and motivate your team. Leaders must develop other ways of making their people feel valued, especially with new starters.

Outside of company-wide events, ensure you organise regular team-building exercises — schedule time to get to know your team. Have one-on-one coffee breaks as you would if you were in the office.

Lastly, if you want to do face-to-face meetups, ensure the whole team participates, not just some members. This will help to make everyone feel included.

 

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Stephen Dracup

Stephen Dracup

Stephen is an experienced telecoms & IT professional with over 25 years industry experience. After graduating from the University of Manchester with a degree in English, Stephen started his career with Lister and Co PLC working for them for 12 years, rising to the position of Head of IT.

Stephen then set up Hoodpoint Communications, specialising in providing business phone systems and ran the business for eight years until it was sold to Chess in 2005.

Stephen stayed on at Chess as Managing Director steering the company to its best financial results. He recently became Chief Operating Officer and looks after the successful further development of the business.


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