How to welcome, align and maintain new talent remotely

Fri, Jun 12, '20 •

How to welcome, align and maintain new talent remotely

Changing times call for a process revamp. COVID-19 took us all by surprise, but the time to be surprised is over. Now we need to adjust, and that affects every process in your business. Change is, as usual, the only constant. 

Kati Kamilova, Happeo’s People Processes Manager, has been at the forefront of our adaptation process during the last few months. We asked her about our new onboarding process, how to execute it; and what to look forward to during remote work. We thought it’d be great to share what we found out, so stick around for some useful ideas on how to make your onboarding and remote work nicer, more efficient, and fruitful in the long run.


Your team has changed lately. Not only has it become normal to see your colleagues’ kids running behind their unknowingly smiling parents, but receiving and maintaining new talent in your organization has likely been a challenge, and preparing for it has not become any easier.

The preboarding process is an important logistical step for you, and a chance for your new employees to get a taste of what’s ahead. A successful application and a cheerful email can’t be followed by sloppy preboarding. On that note, setting a tone of voice for all emails and content is important to create a sense of consistency. 

It’s important to give your new employees early access to platforms you use and the product(s) you have at hand, so they see for themselves what they will sell, support, write about, market or plan for. In our case, we grant access to the freshly recruited talent to our Happeo platform. That’s where we keep everything and anything from global announcements, to communication between offices and Channels dedicated to virtual banter. By allowing early access to our main platform, it’s easy to see how we communicate, what for, and where. The same goes for work. By browsing through our Channels and PAges, the newcomers are able to explore for themselves who we are, how we collaborate, and who is behind what. One of the must-stops is the Newbies channel. Here our new Happsters tell us about who they are along with a nice picture. 

Your platforms are an extension of your culture. After the appetizer comes the real deal.

General onboarding 

Onboarding is the juicy part. After giving your new talent a first taste of what your organization is about, it’s time to create alignment. Onboarding should not only aim to inform but to create a real communication process between the organization and the incoming talent. Your new people can’t make their job an integral part of their life without creating a genuine and mutual exchange. 

Why not create an online onboarding academy? We used Thinkific as our e-learning tool to inform and present a general outlook of who we are, what we are aiming for, and why. This can always include some quick quizzes. There are tons of ways for you to do something similar. Find what’s right for you, and you can easily outline your online course.  This is a great way to set an easy structure that simplifies the learning process and gives a good overview of what the onboardee will need to disseminate. Slides, videos, all and every content you can think about can be a plus. Just be sure to present the viewer with what they want and what they need. Fluff doesn’t substitute substance. Introducing the people of your organization with a  personalized introduction helps to create a personal connection right at the start. Next time you know who’s who during the first meetings. 

Speaking of meetings, taking on meetings with key people in different departments is crucial to better understand the inner machinery of your organization. A quick interview with people working in different departments gives a more holistic overview and enables work with perspective from the very beginning. Our CEO, Perttu Ojansuu, finds it important to meet every single new Happster. This helps make new joiners feel welcome and valued. This can be done on a smaller scale as well if you’re part of a large organization, as it is essential for your employees to feel like their ideas, talents, and presence is seen and appreciated by senior management. 

"Happeo made virtual onboarding seem as though I was in the office with everyone else...that's when I knew I had picked the right company" 

-Alexander Broedelet, newly onboarded Relationship Development Happster

Assigning a buddy is something you’re probably familiar with, but its role can’t be underestimated. During the entire onboarding process, employees can, and should be assigned a person that they can trust to make as many questions as necessary. This link between organization and newcomer is strengthened if the person welcoming them can embody everything that they were told about. This way it’s not just internal marketing – it’s a concrete example of you living your values.

And remember, providing your new people some branded swag is always a good idea.

Department-specific onboarding

The job’s not over after the general onboarding. Being welcomed to an organization is a gradual process, and leaving your new talent with little to no support afterwards is not a good idea. Your new team member needs to have the opportunity to talk to the right persons, and get a deeper understanding of their own department, and what is exactly expected of them. 

The onboarding academy covers general information, but a followup course with relevant  information about the new job tops it off perfectly. New people won’t know how to do everything, and that’s normal. Maybe they’re changing industries, or you’re welcoming an intern with little to no experience. For example, an intern filling in the Video Creator position doesn’t necessarily know the ins and outs of how to best create a marketable video in your specific industry. A simple way to help is to put your department-specific course on your social intranet. Dedicate some time to show previous works and discuss the process,  how the work is usually done and the potential for doing better. A few slides and a pre-recorded webinar hosted on this page can make a total difference. It’s a free way to guarantee adoption, as new joiners get familiar with the platform from the get-go, saving time and creating engagement down the road. It will make the workflow easier and more effective.

Making the most of remote work

Once onboarded, the wellbeing of your employees needs to top off your list of priorities. This helps your people to make the most out of their remote situations. Weirdly enough, our Happsters keep telling us that it’s important that everyone’s home feels a bit more like the office during these strange times. Addressing any and all ergonomic issues that your employees, and particularly your new talent might encounter, is key. Ranging from laptop stands and monitors to meditation cushions; everyone needs to feel at ease when they’re putting in their daily work hours. 

For those of us who are not great at dealing with closed spaces 24/7,  some measures need to be taken to keep us happy and productive. Happiness and well-being programs are a low-key way to help. Meditation sessions, nutrition guidance, emotional agility classes, you name it. Everything else is left up to you scoping your possibilities, creativity, and communicating your new incentives through your internal channels.

You can expect a big increase in people feeling ostracized – it’s harder to create a bond when there’s no physical glue (the office) holding you together. But harder doesn’t mean it’s impossible. While being enclosed in our houses, keeping each other company with virtual coffee breaks, and the occasional beer, is increasingly necessary. The problem is that not everyone has the same schedules, and sometimes, just sometimes, you don’t really feel like joining. Coffee breaks and lunches can be dedicated to specific activities. Spicing up your meetings and virtual breaks will give everyone a smile if it comes genuinely, and matches your organization’s identity. Again, creativity is boundless, and yet, it’s the only limitation you’re facing. A Friday pub quiz after work doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

It all comes down to culture and listening

The culture of your organization is everything. What you’ve read so far is all fine and dandy, but it needs to match your workplace’s identity – even if that identity is digital-only for now. Gamifying too much, or being too serious can be avoided with a good understanding of the inner workings of your organization. If you are an Internal Communicator, or are curious about what the possibilities are for you to stretch the limits and push for a better culture at your workplace, make sure to listen. No one is an expert at everything, but everyone can know a little bit about everything. Aim for that. 


Kevin Barrera


Fri, Jun 12, '20

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