Welcome to the Workplace

You have gone through a fair and consistent recruitment process, interviewed and offered to the best candidate, you are thrilled with your new hire and have settled them in with a remote induction as best as you can during lockdown.

Your work here is done right? Or is it?

It’s well proven and documented that a thorough and consistent induction programme helps newbies settle in better, get up to speed more quickly, understand their role, understand how they fit into the bigger picture, and get to know their surroundings and colleagues, which means they are far more likely to stay for the long haul.

But for anyone recruited to a new job role during the last year it must have felt very strange being inducted and introduced to a business and ‘the way we do things around here’ when ‘the way we do things’ couldn’t be any further from normal. Video calls and virtual meetings have been essential for many businesses enabling them to keep going, but I can’t imagine how it would feel trying to get to know people in this way and embed yourself into an established team. We gain so much from in-person interactions that can’t be experienced via video calls.

As many businesses now start to turn their attention towards the steady relaxation of lockdown, and thoughts of a possible return to normal, or the introduction of a ‘new normal’, I wonder if we need to be mindful of those that have been recruited during lockdown and how they might be feeling right now. For them this is not a return to normal, because they haven’t experienced the business normal before. It’s all completely new and in effect they will be a newbie all over again.

This has come up in conversation a number of times in recent weeks with individuals and business owners in this very situation, I thought I would share some insights.

For many the thought of coming ‘back to work’ when you haven’t been to the workplace before is creating some worry and even anxiety.

So, what are individuals worried about?

  • I won’t know my way around, where everything is, and where everyone sits/hangs out.
  • Its been difficult linking individuals to teams and departments on zoom.
  • I have passed my probation and my employer is pleased with my progress to date, but what if that changes when we return, and I don’t meet their expectations?
  • What if the team don’t like me as much or realise I wasn’t the right person for the role?
  • Will I feel like an outsider because everyone will slot back into routine?
  • It’s very different meeting and working with someone remotely (one individual said “my colleagues will probably be surprised when they see I am just over 6ft tall – they won’t have picked that up from video calls).
  • Will I be expected to just fit in as I have been working with the team remotely or will they cut me some slack?
  • I will probably make mistakes because I don’t know what normal ways of working are.
  • Its been really hard getting to grips with my role during lockdown, have I done enough and will the expectations of me be higher than my knowledge base?
  • I have realised how much you pick up from others around you when you start somewhere, I have really missed out on that.
  • What if I don’t like the surroundings, my probation period is over.
  • Will my workload increase considerably, and will I find myself under pressure to deliver much more?
  • I haven’t had as much support as I would have liked.
  • I haven’t been to the office before, I will need to work out travel routines and timings.


From a business perspective some of these concerns are shared:

  • We have spent a lot on recruiting, remotely inducting and buying equipment for someone – what if:

We think they are great but they don’t feel the same.

They don’t like the environment, company, role, people.

They don’t fit in with the team.

They aren’t the right fit for the business after all.

They don’t like the plans we are putting in place for ‘the new normal’.

The role doesn’t fit with their wants and needs in the same way as when they were recruited.

The workload has been reduced/scaled back during lockdown, will they cope when we get back to normal.

They haven’t learnt as much as we’d hoped.

We don’t need all the staff because of the pandemic effects.

  •  Have we supported them enough, and done enough?
  • How can we make sure they feel part of the team?

Business leaders also however, have had a bigger concern which is keeping their business going through what has been a really difficult year, so thinking about re-inducting new people may have just slipped off the radar. Employers and business owners need to consider all employees , the finances and the health, safety and welfare aspect of returning.

Of the individuals I spoke with, two said their employers were all over this and had put some great measures in place such as check-in/taster days before a full return, some informal offsite/outside team meets (when the rules change) and setting clear expectations around the plans for a gradual return to the workplace. I asked everyone I spoke to what could be done to alleviate the fears of both individuals and employers, hear are their thoughts:

Don’t assume an induction in lockdown is a complete induction (from both employer and employee perspectives), there is a lot to learn about the office environment which will help newbies feel welcome and employers feel reassured.

Communicate with each other, everyone deals with things differently. Some people will need more support, some less. But nothing will happen if you don’t discuss it. Check-in to discuss how both parties feel about coming to the workplace and ask what you need from each other to make the transition seamless.

No assumptions – if an employer doesn’t mention it, it isn’t that they don’t care, they have a lot to think about at the moment. If an employee doesn’t mention it, don’t assume they are OK, they might be worried about raising their fears.

Go back to basics and re-do the induction – there will be things that can be skipped, but it will really help settle individuals into the workplace.

Set some clear expectations around objectives, goals and deliverables so everyone knows what is required of them.

Keep the dialogue going – review and discuss how things are progressing.

Even though they may have been on the remote team for a while, allocate buddies or mentors or the option to shadow others in the in-person environment.

Where possible organise some social events or meets so your newbies get to know colleagues in a more relaxed environment.

Give them some time and space to settle in.

All great advice I would endorse.

If you need help with getting back into your workplace and supporting your employees then get in touch. I offer a free 30-minute consultation on any HR matter, get in touch via our website www.metrohr.co.uk or hello@metrohr.co.uk

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