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How to welcome new colleagues whilst maintaining coronavirus measures

New staff members need a proper induction process when they start a new job. It helps them settle into their duties quickly and get to know both their colleagues and the practices and objectives of their department.

How can you help your new colleagues get off to a flying start whilst working from home? Here are five tips to help you welcome new staff members and get them settled in.

Maybe you could send him or her a bunch of flowers at home, or write a card from the whole team. The latter option has the added benefit of letting the new person know everyone’s names!

Agree clearly with the new employee his or her starting date and time. As his or her manager, you should plan a start-up discussion at that time and explain how and where that conversation will take place: in Microsoft Teams, in Skype for Business, over the phone or face to face in the office. 

With so many people working from home, you might think that everyone has a pleasant place to work, but that is by no means always the case. As the manager, you should always discuss what each person needs in order to do his or her work properly.

Given the current situation, ask what the new staff member needs in order to work from home: an office chair, information about telephone use or access to systems and software.

New international colleague 

Remember that people arriving in the Netherlands may have to go into quarantine at home. A colleague who has just arrived in a new country may not have a network in place to help him or her deal with this situation, for instance to arrange for grocery deliveries and other practical matters. As the new colleague’s manager, check with him or her to see how you can help.

Under ordinary circumstances, you would give a new colleague a tour of the building and introduce him or her to everyone you meet. This is more difficult online, but it is still just as important to introduce people.

You could give the new employee a list of 10 people he or she could chat with online, over a virtual cup of coffee. These meetings are even more useful when the staff member has the chance to ask these people which other colleagues they should talk to about specific matters. This will help the new employee build up an internal network.

You could organise an informal introductory meeting, either just with you as the manager or with the whole team, perhaps doing something like having lunch ‘together’ (online, from different locations) or calling each other while you’re out for a walk.

The first few weeks in a new job – when the new employee is meeting all kinds of new people and doing their best to process a lot of new information – can be pretty overwhelming. Assigning a buddy can help them adjust. It can be helpful for new staff members to have a fixed point of contact, someone they can approach if they have any questions: What was the helpdesk phone number again? Who should I go to for X or Y?

Schedule fixed times to catch up with the employee, at least twice a week to begin with. You can use these meetings to discuss important things, such as the person’s tasks he or she is working on, priorities and targets, and what is important to him or her. Give the new employee the opportunity to ask questions and ask your own questions, and show an interest in your new colleague. Bear the employee’s home situation in mind, and show understanding for the challenge of finding a healthy, achievable balance between work and private life.

New colleagues will appreciate the opportunity to familiarise themselves with their new position as soon as possible. Make sure that important documents are stored in a location to which the new staff member has access. Save the introduction document in the same folder, as well as other useful files such as procedural manuals. 

You also need to create accounts and arrange for new staff members to have access to their e-mail and to online tools such as Teams and Kaltura. Having all this prepared in advance shows your new colleague that he or she is welcome and is important to both the team and the organisation as a whole. 

Going through an introduction process – adjusting to new duties, a new team and a new organisation – whilst working from home takes nerve and adaptability, and can be challenging for the manager as well as the employee. Especially at a time like this, it is crucial to keep the lines of communication open and to be available to answer questions.

  • New staff members can use this dedicated online module (link in Dutch) to explore the university. 
  • Centrally planned online introduction days have been scheduled for 28 May 2020 (English) and 15 June 2020 (Dutch). Future dates will be published on the website.
  • The Healthy University@ Home dossier has more information about how safeguard your mental health in the current situation, and how to make a success of working from home. 
  • Make sure new employees receive links to important web pages before they are due to start work, to help them get to know the organisation: 
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