You’re still hiring and you aren’t sure how to carry on (boarding) – Part 2

by Aisling on May 1, 2020

Onboarding new employees is usually a very exciting time. Your business is growing and you’ve given an opportunity to someone to progress, or start, their career. It’s a time of celebration, happiness and excitement. The possibilities are endless.

Still hiring

In today’s climate there are elements of that which are still true – your business is still growing, and you’ve still given somebody the opportunity to build their career, but there is an undertone of uncertainty that lingers with everything we do right now.

‘Uncertainty’ is the most commonly used word right now, but it’s the most fitting. It’s important to remember that this is a challenging and stressful time for everyone, and that needs to be recognised. Your family, friends, colleagues, employees and everyone around you is navigating this new climate in their own way, and are trying to do the right thing.

This is a new environment for us all, and the actions we take now are different to the ones we took before. The reason we say this is because your onboarding process for new employees will also be different to how you’ve done it before, and if there was ever a time to try to provide certainty, clarity and security to people it’s now.

Onboarding is one of the first experiences a person will have as a new employee at your company, and sets the tone for their journey with you. It’s important that it’s positive, even though things are chaotic at the moment. We have spent some time reaching out to some companies who already have remote practices in place, and people who have gone through remote processes, to really understand how to move forward the best we can.

We’ve broken it down into digestible chunks, not everything might apply to your company but think about what could be implemented, and what changes you might need to make.

Still hiring
Still hiring

Plan, plan, plan

This is vital. You need to spend a lot of time planning your onboarding process. Unfortunately, we don’t know how long things will remain as they are, so it’s quite likely that you will need to use this onboarding process more than once, so put in the work to make it effective from the start! Before you jump the gun and start looking at what great things your new employee will do, you need to sit down and design the whole blueprint of their journey to set them up for success.

Ideally, you should start this about a month prior to them starting, to give you time to revise, edit, trial new processes, etc. Invest the time figuring everything out and it will set you up well for moving forward.

Which nicely segways into our next point:


Checklists can be many things – a list of things to get to or else a built out guide of what to do for each part of the onboarding process (we prefer this one). This way, nothing gets overlooked.

Your checklist should include a list of tasks that HR, IT, finance, hiring managers, workplace team, onboarding buddy, etc. need to do. What needs to be prepared, and by who? When does it need to be done by? Starting your checklist early means you won’t be grasping for time to get this done a week before a new employee starts!

Are all of your onboarding materials ready and up to date? What content does your new employee need to see? Where are things kept? Who needs to set up email accounts and access to the company VPN etc?

It’s useful, if you haven’t already done this, to make sure that your documentation is easily available. Maybe you use Google docs, or Confluence, or something similar. Having a single source of truth will lessen the stress of trying to remember where you saved something! Having a single source with links to relevant materials is the best way to think about this, instead of having multiple links that you send someone. Single source of truth, always!

Onboarding Document

This will be your new hire’s complete guide of reference for everything. It should include multiple things:

  • A welcome message! Make it personal and welcome them to their new position
  • An overview of their team, their role and their mission. It’s nice to include the company values here too
  • Buddy! Who is their onboarding buddy? What is their availability and working hours? What’s their Slack/email etc. The onboarding buddy will be a completely available resource for new hires to get up to speed with everything and be a person who they can reach out to with any questions.
  • Who they need to meet. This is crucial for a new employee, not only to get to know the wider team, but to understand the organisational structure, who does what and who they will be interacting with the most in their role. It can be nerve racking enough starting a new role, so it’s handy to pre-populate their calendar with these meetings (over video), and an agenda of what will be discussed, to make sure that everyone on the list gets ticked off!
  • A Day 1 to 90 breakdown. Obviously, you’re not going to break down every single day, but an overview of what to expect and achieve on day 1, week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, and then week 5 to day 90 (with dates included) will be very useful. Particularly in remote environments, having a guide of what to do and what to work towards all laid out is incredibly beneficial.
  • General onboarding materials. What do they need to know about your company and your company mission? What do they need to get up to speed with things? You will already have all of this information available for onboarding in person (you likely have sessions with product/ development/ compliance teams etc.), so just make sure that those resources are in the onboarding document. It’s worth keeping in mind that this could be the first time a person has gone through a remote onboarding process and, with everything that’s going on, may be overwhelmed. Try to ensure that your materials aren’t too content heavy and coming all at once, maybe what you would do in one week you could extend to two? Consider the other factors in play here, and try to ensure that the onboarding material is digestible.
  • Company events/meetings. This will be for things like town hall meetings or particularly important dates. These will all be over video for now, but they won’t be forever so it’s good to include everything!

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