The importance of a tailored virtual onboarding strategy in construction
Paul Deakin, Director at Rund Partnership discusses how companies can help bed new employees into the construction industry in our new virtual world.
“COVID has taken us into an ‘employer’s market’. Demand for jobs in construction is at an all-time high, with those fresh out of university competing with more people searching for new roles after moving on from previous employment. To add to the pressure, new prospects also have the challenge of adapting to virtual onboarding – something which, pre-lockdown, often only happened in exceptional circumstances.
“As a business, we have a significant part to play in helping new employees bed into this new virtual world of construction consultancy. We have already gone through the process of adapting to new virtual working practices, so should empathise and understand the time and effort required to get used to this new norm.
“Virtual recruitment can, in fact, benefit both the employer and the recruit as location becomes less ‘make or break’ when it comes to hiring. Recruitment becomes more flexible, so employers have more choice of candidates with different skillsets and recruits can apply for roles further afield. At Rund, we are proud to have virtually recruited a number of new employees, with interviews and job offerings conducted via video conference as part of our commitment to adapting to the norms of remote working.
“Virtual onboarding is where the challenge becomes more apparent. New employees may not have the opportunity to be in an office setting with their colleagues, seamlessly building relationships as they work in the same surroundings. Therefore, more effort is required from both the employer and employee to ensure they feel welcome and fully integrated.
“It is vital to maintain consistent levels of contact with new employees, right from the start. Scheduling regular one-to-one meetings, introduction meetings and social gatherings will help them build strong foundations and trust with their seniors and fellow colleagues, giving them a sense of belonging from day one. While this is a job for the business to organise, the new employee also needs to take any opportunity they can to build connections by attending virtual gatherings wherever possible.
“At Rund, we have implemented various virtual onboarding methods to help new employees bed into their new roles. These include new online workshops, where new starters are placed into groups with senior members of the team who walk them through their day-to-day tasks. This virtual group setting allows the new starter to share their experiences with other team members and form important relationships, while benefiting from first-hand training from their senior.
“Each new employee is also assigned a mentor, who they meet with on a regular basis to gain advice, discuss their progress and outline any issues or queries they have. Moving to virtual mentorship has provided even more flexibility for mentors and employees, allowing them to schedule these meetings around other commitments more efficiently, without location restrictions.
“Overall, communication is the key element in driving successful virtual onboarding. New employees need to feel as if they are part of the team, and also feel they are receiving sufficient training to help develop their confidence and understanding of their role and industry. By implementing a tailored virtual onboarding strategy involving consistent communication, we will help build a successful future for the construction industry.”