Jenny Shiers, Senior Director, Employee Success at Salesforce

Covid-19 has forced many workforces across the globe to work from home, making it an unusual time to be a new starter, especially if you’re a graduate entering the world of work for the first time.

Globally we’re seeing companies re-imagine how they do business, particularly when it comes to keeping a remote and dispersed workforce connected – and this includes immersing new starters into a company’s values.

Instead of having an introduction to new colleagues, joining company meetings and having a guided walk around the office to find out where the coffee machine is, this year new starters will begin from home.

To integrate new employees into a company’s culture remotely, there are some guidelines to ensure the transition from new starter to becoming a fully-fledged member of the team stays smooth and consistent.

Taking culture virtual

As for many businesses, when we hire at Salesforce, we don’t just seek those who can get the job done: we seek people who will maintain and add to our culture by living our values every day. As we’ve grown, we’ve found that talented individuals are eager to join us because they share our mission to improve the state of the world and align with our founding vision of a company centred around Trust, Customer Success, Innovation, and Equality.

It's so important to us then that new starters are able to feel fully immersed in that culture. We were honoured to be named as the UK’s best place to work this year by the Great Place to Work Institute, and we want to keep up that standard even during this challenging time.

For those looking to do the same, here are my five top tips of managing company culture virtually:

1. Get onboarding resources all in one place

Whether it’s a website or an app, provide a tool that can allow employees to track, navigate, and plan their activities as they’re onboarded. This might include quick start guides that include links to resources or systems used by the team, or a list of the best groups to join on the companies instant messaging platforms. To support this, hold weekly ‘office hours’ where on-boarding teams can to talk to new hires and learn about their highlights and challenges. This is a great resource for all those that need it.

2. Appoint culture guides

Set-up 1:1s with your most passionate and longest-tenured employees to welcome new joiners, instil company values from the get-go and share their own career journey. We have a system called ‘trailguide’ where a peer helps them through very informal mentorship and friendship during their first 90 days.

3. Make it easy to ask questions

Whether it’s through an intranet, collaboration platform or an AI driven help desk – create a smooth pathway for new starters to ask questions. Our mobile-optimised and AI driven concierge service, for example, provides answers from all employee-facing groups, including HR, IT, finance, and facilities. This means new hires have a single place to get answers about things like their benefits, their equipment, their pay, and their workplace.

4. Keep health and wellbeing front of mind

Wellbeing surveys, including daily pulse surveys, can help businesses gain insight into how their employees are feeling during this unique time. It also gives the executive team data to review and take action against to address pain points.

5. Stay social

We know from our graduates especially that things like virtual quizzes and catch-ups really helps them build that sense of community, and relationships with people outside of their team.

Keeping teams connected

The hope for new starters is always that they will be up and running pretty quickly, operating as a fully-fledged member of the team. It’s essential then that their onboarding is set within the context of keeping teams connected as a whole.

Understanding one another’s working from home situation is now fundamental. Managers need to feel empowered to provide the flexibility needed for all employees to work from home well, depending on home environments. A graduate might live in a busy shared house with limited space and working parents with young children often have to split their time between homeschooling and work. Keeping this line of communication open between colleagues and offering support is really important to staying connected and feeling valued as part of a team.

We recently spoke to one of our graduates from Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, on her experience of continuing the apprenticeship during lockdown. Megan started her apprenticeship in October 2019 and hopes to become a solution engineer.

Speaking about her experiences Megan said,

“It’s been important to me that my learning has kept its momentum and with clear direction. Working remotely is easy, and it’s been good to stay connected with my manager, buddy and fellow apprentices, just virtually”.

Technology and agile working can support and crucially, provide a platform for training and lifelong learning. Businesses are challenged with re-deploying and re-skilling employees as they recover from this health crisis and take on roles essential to maintaining operational and customer service standards. By using online training platforms such as Trailhead, skills development can take place remotely.

Finding your own way

Internal diversity networks and equality groups also give new starters the opportunity to join an inclusive culture. Communities of underrepresented groups and allyships ensures diversity and inclusion remains a priority and empowers employees to become agents of change in the business.

Every organisation is going through an unprecedented period of change, and when it comes to how to maintain culture and bring new starters into it, everyone will need to find a way that is true to their own values.

Jenny Shiers, Senior Director, Employee Success at Salesforce

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