How social work employers can help new staff settle into their roles while working remotely

Communicating with new starters ahead of time, meeting them in person and checking in regularly are all key factors in successful induction, says a new guide

Two people on a video call
Photo: fizkes/Adobe Stock

At Community Care Jobs, we know that recruiting social workers has become even more challenging over the past year. Practitioners may be reluctant to move roles when they can’t visit the office of their new employer. And even when you have a new recruit lined up, how do you successfully introduce them into a new team when working remotely?

Here are three tips for ensuring new starters feel welcome and settle well into their new role.

Communicate ahead of time

Lori Goossen, principal social worker at Medway council, left her previous role in June 2020. She has since recruited five new people to her team at Medway. She uses what she learnt from her own experience when inducting new staff members.

“What was helpful for me in my own move was the support of my manager and head of service,” she explains. “It was the communication ahead of time that made me think ‘this is going to be OK and they’re going to take care of me when I get there’.”

Contact with a new starter ahead of their first day is crucial. Even after they have accepted a job offer, they may still be nervous about the change, and a lack of contact from their new employer could exacerbate any lingering doubts. “It has been that keeping in contact with people beforehand because they could easily change their mind,” says Goossen. “Employers will try to get you to stay, obviously. So I’m in contact with [new starters] weekly, fortnightly at the least, introducing them to the team ahead of time, if that’s what they want.”

Meet in person if possible

Nicola Stott, the manager of an independent fostering agency, moved roles in the summer of 2020. “I managed a few weeks in my new office before we became Tier 3 and then the national lockdown began again,” she says. “So I’m back homeworking and relying on Zoom meetings. I feel lucky to have got a few weeks in [the office] – so I feel I’ve got to know the directors.”

Goossen also advocates meeting new starters in person on their first day, if possible, so they have face-to-face contact with their manager before continuing their work remotely. “I think the staff would say that was a really important part of their induction, just getting to see who they’re working with, even though we can’t shake hands or anything.” On that first day, she gives new starters a welcome pack with a mask, hand sanitiser and some fun things as well.

Be intentional about checking in

Goossen says she is in contact with her team more often than she would be in the office, rather than less. “Just checking in with them. We have our WhatsApp group, which I’m sure everybody in the world has now, but also much more regular checking in by video.”

“I think the word I’m going to keep coming back to is ‘intentional’, because you don’t just have those casual conversations,” she adds. “Everything you do needs to be intentional. So I’m intentionally going to check in with someone twice a day or once a day, or let’s just have lunch together and not talk about work.”

Download our guide now to find out more about approaches that could help you build a successful recruitment and onboarding strategy.

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