The way we work has changed and so has the way we train our new starters. We’ve onboarded many new employees remotely, including providing any technical training they may need and used video conferencing to connect them with their teams. Emma Raven, People and Culture Consultant, Alex Hunter, Talent Acquisition Manager and Kath Jordan, Senior Capability Consultant Operations explain how we have transitioned to virtual onboarding.

How have we shifted our onboarding online?

Emma Raven:

We have created a virtual onboarding guide for people leaders, which just helps go through the changes to what the process was. With the changes to the way we work, there's a bit more involved now when we have a new starter so the virtual people leader onboarding guide gives them the timeline and steps to work through – for example when equipment will be delivered to their location. We have also added some new steps in it too, to provide more comfort to our new starters, given that they're not able to physically see all their teammates on their first day.

Another thing is with now doing orientation sessions virtually, Kath always used to facilitate them for us when we were in the office but working together, we have made them virtual and interactive.

Kath Jordan:

Yes, we have really had to pivot the way that we approached onboarding, previously we had a mixture of online and face to face training but due to the recent changes we transitioned to a virtual process. It’s not just been about onboarding them into the processes but into the company culture so that they can feel supported and welcome.

Alex Hunter:

And I think half the battle of onboarding people is preparing them for the process and what it's going to feel and look like. We are honest from the first contact with new starters, we let them know that they will be onboarded virtually and could go through this entire process without having met their team face to face.

How have staff supported the process

Emma:

The leadership team have been very supportive. We have a panel at the end of the onboarding session where they answer questions from the new starters and provide insights into how their teams work.

Alex:

Managers have taken to this process very smoothly, they make sure that on the first morning that they're there, they have a meeting with the new employee, they talk to them, they make sure that they're all hooked up and ready, from a technology perspective. Everybody is on a level playing field now, because the whole team that they work with are all working from home, they don't feel like they're an outsider at all.

Kath:

People have really stepped up and provided support to the new starters, a lot of the learning especially in our Claims team is within the workplace where you can ask questions.

We have developed a new learning program for our Claims Assessors with our Claims Technical Development team. The program “Rockpool” was created as part of us getting ready for the regulatory requirements to have claims assessors accredited. It allows new starters to get technical capability training around various claims topics, so they get the foundations needed to assess claims. New claims assessors are allocated a technical coach who works with them through various competencies and procedures in the first three week of joining MetLife. This ensures when they get claims to manage, they are capable and skilled to do so. The training and coaching continue with the Skills Matrix and assessors receive continued support from the Claims Technical Development team in getting a Claim Authority and continued capability development.

Emma:

There are activities within the orientation where they get to chat to other employees from different parts of the business who have also joined which is helping to build up their own support network. There's also an interactive quiz, where they need to go and find information out from other departments and sources which helps them meet other staff members.

How have the new starters taken to be virtually onboarded?

Emma:

People have said they were pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the onboarding has gone. I think obviously a lot of them feel that it's not ideal that they aren't in the office, spending face to face time with their new team and their manager.

Alex:

I do check in with people who we have hired, and everybody said that this worked seamlessly. Several of them have said that I'm really, really looking forward to meeting people in a work environment back in the office.

Kath:

The feedback has been good, people have appreciated that there is a plan in place from day one and that they also had their manager and IT contact them prior to starting to ensure they had everything they needed for day one.

What tips could you provide to others looking to onboard staff during these times

Emma:

Don't be afraid to keep changing the process, even if you have to every week, to make it better and more suitable. Put yourself in these new starters' shoes and think how strange it would be to be starting a new role in a new company during a time like this. And that's helped me decide and figure out what new and additional steps to add into our current processes, just to provide a bit of extra comfort and peace of mind to help the new starter feel more welcome. The big one for me though is collaboration, to ensure that the onboarding process is a smooth one takes a lot of input from various teams.

Alex:

The only thing I'd add to that and to reiterate it really is that putting yourself in the candidate or the new starter's shoes. That is from their first interview through to them starting, helping them feel at ease and supported.

Kath:

You just can’t always be in video sessions, virtual onboarding shouldn’t be like being in a classroom for the whole time as it is draining and not conducive to learning. Provide self-paced and explorative activities where they can go and do research and then present back. Also make it fun, and interactive.

Creating networks is my final tip, helping them with a support network of not just people to learn from and their teams but of other people in the same situation, either those who started at the same time or not long before so they can share and discuss what they are going through.

MetLife offers a supportive work culture with an emphasis on collaboration both within local teams and across the MetLife global community. Find out more about working at MetLife.