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Virtual Onboarding at Trickle

1 Apr 2020
Peter Dunn

The team at Trickle are still hard at work despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit so many businesses across the globe. 

Their online Employee Wellbeing, Communication & Engagement Platform, has been adopted by many businesses including Eden Scott and the NHS, offers workforces the chance to engage with colleagues, put forward business changing suggestions, celebrate success and ask for one on one help with more sensitive issues.

Their recent growth meant they needed to bring on a Marketing Content Manager to support the efforts of Marcella Peacock, Head of Marketing.

However, while the recruitment process began well before COVID-19 took over everyone’s lives, the onboarding process fell just as the country descended into lockdown.

So, we got a little insight from Marcella on how she approached the virtual onboarding process with her new hire.

Onboarding at Trickle

The team at Trickle work from home two days a week anyway, so everyone is well set up for home working. However, when people join the team, we tend to spend time with them in the office to make sure they get to understand the culture, who everyone is and can at least put a face to a name.

The challenge of onboarding someone without that face to face time was going to require a little creativity.

We were keen to avoid a situation where our new team member felt as though they didn’t have clear direction in what was required, and we were also keen to make sure they felt part of the wider Trickle team from the get-go.

So, we had to adapt our approach to make sure our new Marketing Content Manager was able to join the team in a seamless process. 

Preparation

There were the obvious hardware and software issues to deal with.

The new role was a digital marketing role, so ensuring there was a laptop set up with the right packages took a little more coordination than usual.

We had to act quickly to source a laptop (which are obviously in high demand right now) as the Apple store closed their doors and we were unable to collect the original order. We also made sure we connected with our IT team early to set up the right software, including our HR programme & email systems amongst other things.

It was vital to us, as it is with any onboarding process, virtual or not, that our new joiners feel they are a valued member of the team and some thought has gone into their imminent arrival.

Communication

It is our business to build clear communication channels and ensure workforces have the chance to engage with each other. So, it was important that when our new person joined the team she felt fully engaged (for instance, there was plenty of work to do and a clear set objectives to aim for) and that she had the opportunity to reach out as often or as little as needed.

Our content plan is based on an SEO strategy that would help increase our organic traffic, directly competing with others in our market. So, I drafted a content strategy that would provide a framework for our new Content Manager to build out her daily activity and add her own ideas and suggestions.

Also, in the first week I scheduled calls in the morning, at lunchtime and at the close of play. These were not always structured work calls but more of a check-in to make sure our new colleague had a sounding board as she would have done if we’d been sitting in the office.

These calls then stretched out in the second week to one or two calls a day, where necessary, to confirm an approach and reassure on direction.

Trust

This is also an important aspect of the virtual onboarding process. We interviewed our new Marketing Content Manager and recruited her based on the values we were looking for and on the skills she had as a writer. It was important we trusted her to join the business and do the job we needed sensibly and without regular prompts from us.

The key to this was, we had a plan we discussed and agreed and there was a workload we were comfortable with. This provided objectives, deadlines and a structure to work from.

But in a situation like this I find it is so important to show your new colleague that while you are there to support in every way possible, you also trust them to get on with the job and to produce the results the business needs.

Virtual onboarding

As long as you are prepared and can plan a little further ahead than normal then onboarding new team members virtually needn’t be a blocker to your recruitment and business growth.

Taking the time to set out a plan and to trust in the quality of your hiring process and the calibre of your new employee will make the process beneficial for your new hire and your business.

Author

Peter Dunn
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