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Drawing in top talent in a remote working world

By Jo Deal, Chief Human Resources Officer at LogMeIn

March 12 2021 - If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times... remote working isn’t going away. We are fast approaching a year since organisations across the world were forced to make the rapid shift to a fully remote workforce, and this was no mean feat. A year later and the situation is very much the same for many of us. This is no longer temporary and HR leaders can no longer rely on interim "this will do for now" plans. In the world of talent, employees still need support, possibly now more than ever before, existing staff are looking for growth and development, and new recruits need to be hired and onboarded.

Whilst some organisations have taken to remote working like a duck to water, for others it has been a challenge. They cannot wait until we "go back". I think it is time to face the fact that we are not going back, whether you mean back to the same office in the same way or, at a broader level, back to how we all used to work. Remote working is here to stay. Despite experiencing it during a pandemic, at a time where human interaction and socialising outside of work has been cut to the minimum, it still holds great appeal. It translates into flexibility and employees want flexibility. Two thirds of Gen Z and Millennials say they want permanent remote working after the economy has re-opened. For those looking to draw in the top talent, figuring out how you source, hire and onboard in a hybrid remote work environment has to be a top priority.

Empathy, Understanding and Redesign - Start with the Basics

Prior to the pandemic it wasn’t unusual for a small portion of the workforce to be fully remote or flexi-working, for example at LogMeIn, about 15% of employees worked from home. But in hindsight, those that weren’t physically present were often an afterthought and many of our talent programs, our benefits and perks were not designed with them in mind, including onboarding. Then the pandemic happened, suddenly HQ and "building" centric behaviours went away and those of us who were always in the room finally understood what it was like to feel disconnected and to not be up to speed on everything going on. It taught us empathy, gave us time to pause and drove us to redesign many talent offerings, including our onboarding, with a far more educated viewpoint.

It began with the basics, back when we were in ‘survive the remote stage’. From offer to accept, planning the start date, shipping equipment on time and making sure a new hire had what they needed for day one. Then it evolved to thinking about how to immerse someone in our culture when they have never met anyone from the company. Even though we’re far apart from our colleagues, we’re still spending eight hours a day working, laughing and supporting each other and company culture has been more important than ever. Planning is key, over the past year within local teams we’ve held more socials, small group roundtables, informal quizzes, music and trivia events than ever before.

No One Size Fits All

It is hard to schedule fun but with no hallway moments, no opportunity to chat while getting a coffee, these moments have to be scheduled. They are optional, nobody wants to have fun forced on them, but creating a welcoming environment, with options for different kinds of engagement will cater to every type of new hire, the person living alone, the person with young children, the person who loves competitive games. It also creates opportunities for employees to engage with each other around a new thread, in a new forum other than being part of the same team working on the same project. This is especially important for new hires. Finding ways to build out a network, to meet people other than your immediate team and to form connections with other colleagues; all of these things influence new hire engagement, improve productivity and make it more likely your new team member will stay with the company long term.

HR teams all over the world are thinking through how to evolve their offerings, to create an engaging experience for new hires. Hiring managers have a joint responsibility to plan for day 1, day 30, 60 and 90 experiences too. People don’t leave a job, they leave a manager and the impression the hiring manager imparts during the interview and onboarding process will directly impact the likelihood of the new hire to accept the job, to thrive in the role and to do great work for years to come.

One chance to make a good first impression

When it comes to recruiting, it is just as important for the company to make a good first impression as it is for the prospective employee. Even if a company is not planning on switching to fully remote, virtual is here to stay in some form. A flexible and robust remote recruiting approach will be essential going forward, and focusing on some of the basics will ensure an engaging experience:

  • Video is important in ensuring meaningful connections can be made, avoid interviewing by phone
  • Find ways to showcase your culture and give a flavour of what it is like to work at your company. Employee stories, photos and videos can offer insight into a team’s personality and can also be shared on company social channels to attract talent
  • Demonstrate commitment to remote onboarding with specifics, and if you’re big on company culture make sure this comes across by showcasing your social calendar and employee welfare and support programs.

Nurturing talent from afar

Remote onboarding is a constant game of adjusting, evolving programs for all and tailoring them for each individual. New hires have all the same distractions and struggles that the rest of your employees do, on top of starting a new job.

Remote and flexible bring opportunities to do things differently: make your orientation training self paced, allow someone to access it piece by piece according to their schedule, accommodating those who are juggling home-schooling, looking after family members or working in less than ideal spaces. Creating onboarding sessions in an on-demand platform for new hires provides the right kind of space for new employees to work through content and always refer back to it.

When someone starts a new job, in an office, they are surrounded by the culture, it embraces them as they begin their new journey. With virtual onboarding, this can often be true in the first few days or weeks, but then people get busy and the onboarding process can fizzle out. To combat this, create a "meet-and-greet" roadmap that stretches out over several months with ongoing touchpoints and check-ins. Don’t just establish a welcome buddy for the first day, also assign a virtual mentor that will help the new hire in the longer term. One great advantage of remote is that everyone can have access to everyone. We used to greet our new hires in each office with a local executive hosting lunch. Now we do this virtually and this creates access to meet every executive, no matter where they are based. We have built out a program that invites new hires over the course of 6 months to join executive roundtables and get to know every corner of our business.

Remote is here to stay and if companies plan it well and make it a thoughtful and engaging experience, it can be a competitive differentiator for candidates. Re-examine every talent program through the filter of remote work, bring empathy into your planning and remember to learn from those you have hired, introducing a continuous feedback and improvement loop. To attract the best, you need to be the best, and with a strong partnership between HR and managers you can set your company apart as a great - remote - place to work.


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