Collector - November 2020 - 25

TACKLING REMOTE
ONBOARDING & ENGAGEMENT
Onboarding gives new employees the
tools and skills they need to succeed in
their role, and now many companies
must tackle this in a virtual environment
for the first time. It may take longer and
require different approaches to achieve
the results of your tried-and-true inperson system.
"In the virtual environment, it's easy for
people to get left behind because you can't
see if they are having a bad day," Howell said.
"Make sure you have education available
about how to be a good remote worker and
leader and ensure your engagement program
meets the needs of the virtual employee."
Clearly spell out your expectations and
let employees know who they can go to
with questions. Sunrise takes this approach,
making sure a manager or mentor is
available at any point in the workday to
answer new hires' questions and listen to
their concerns.
"People are going through new things
they've never experienced before, and
sitting alone in a room, not leaving the
house, can definitely be a challenge for
people," Dawn Simmons, vice president,
training and quality assurance at Sunrise
Credit Services Inc., said. "We find that
sometimes if you have an employee who
isn't productive, if they get a chance
to talk to us to express their feelings,
then they are fine-we watch their
productivity surge."
To help strengthen the connection with
its remote employees, the Sunrise team
started bringing new hires into the office two
months into the job for a meet-and-greet
to connect them with the company culture.
The training room is in a secluded area and
everyone wears masks and follows social
distancing guidelines.
"That helps them feel connected to us
and gives them another opportunity to ask
questions and meet the management team,"
Simmons said.
New hire onboarding and employee
engagement go hand in hand. Continue any
contests, giveaways and rewards that you had

COLLECTOR 11.20

implemented pre-pandemic. Mail employees
cards on their birthday and send them notes
of congratulations on work milestones.
"Being a good collector is an art," Vidas
said. "It's hard to perfect your artistic
ability at home by yourself, especially if
you are new at this. You really have to
get them connected to your company.
You have to reward them when they do
well. When they do well, we say: come to
the front door and there will be a prize
waiting for you."
Fleming pointed out one unexpected
upside to the shift to remote work: the
paperless office is becoming more of a reality
than ever, especially during the onboarding
process.
When you bring on new employees, she
noted, there is a lot of paperwork that needs
to be signed. In a virtual environment,
companies need to rethink how that
happens. Wilber & Associates looked at a
few electronic signature software products
and ultimately went with DocuSign, but also
used this opportunity to take their work
instructions and training binders online as
well.
"Before we would print them out and they
would go out of date so quickly, but now
they can be updated and circulated instantly,"
Fleming said.
There are likely many other unforeseen
benefits that these new experiences will
bring. Being open to change can help
smooth the transition between the way our
offices operated before the pandemic and the
way they operate now.
"I think this push for more remote
work has been coming for a while,"
Howell acknowledged. "Anyone in the
industry knows that as new generations
enter the workforce, there is more of a
focus on work-life balance. I don't think
our industry was moving as quickly
toward that as the younger generations
were wanting. COVID forced everyone
to figure out how to make work-at-home
work. We're all learning together."
Anne Rosso May is ACA International's
communications director and editor-in-chief.

1

Tell applicants about your
company's history, how
it helps the community and
the career opportunities it
offers to help them connect
with your culture.

2

Craft interview questions
to assess if the person
will be able to handle the
isolation of remote work.

3

Make sure your new hires
know who they can go to
with questions and check in
with them regularly.
25



Collector - November 2020

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