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Four Tips For Starting A New Job During COVID-19

Coronavirus has hit the Australian job market hard. Last week, it was reported that the country’s unemployment rate had jumped to 6.2%, the highest level since September 2015.

Between March and April alone, full-time employment decreased by 220,500 positions and part-time employment by 373,800 positions. Scott Morrison has warned that this number is likely to grow in the coming months.

The stats are alarming, but what they don’t reflect is that many organisations are still hiring throughout the coronavirus pandemic. As My Business reported last month, while many industries are struggling to stay afloat, others are witnessing a surging demand for their services and products, which means they’re having to ramp up recruitment.

For newly hired employees, and those who accepted a job offer before social distancing laws were put in place, the on-boarding process is going to be quite atypical. With the majority of employees currently working remotely, there’s a good chance that new recruits won’t even have a chance to meet their boss or teammates in person. On-boarding and training will be conducted via video conference and they may be asked to use their personal devices for work.

It’s certainly not the best circumstances for new hires to make a brilliant first impression, but there are a few ways to ensure things run as smoothly as possible.

1. Get to grips with technology before Day 1

Because it’s probable that new employees will be asked to use their own devices (at least while social distancing measures are still in place) there should be plenty of time for configuring laptops before Day 1. Employees should get in touch with their new manager, or HR department, to find out what programs they need to download, such as teleconferencing apps, and aim to do a tech trial before they start work. This is especially important for those unfamiliar with video conferencing.

Check out PASA’s guide on the top ten tips to perfect your video conferencing etiquette.

2. Prepare to fill a slightly different position than the one that was advertised

The vast majority of organisations will be struggling to operate as normal as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around the world.  Employers are under enormous stress as they are forced to operate with a depleted workforce, new regulations and major supply chain delays.

As a result, employees (both existing and new) may not be able to perform their usual roles- they might be asked to cover for other colleagues, take on additional responsibilities or find they are less busy than usual.

New employees, eager to shine in their new role, might find this especially disheartening but it’s important for them to be patient and understanding, and not to expect everything to fall into place during week one. Instead they should be flexible and accommodating.

3. Build meaningful relationships with new teammates

Developing meaningful relationships with colleagues is a whole lot easier when it’s possible to have casual, impromptu chats around the office or go for lunch and after-work drinks. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to build relationships remotely – it just takes a slight shift in thinking and a bit of creativity.

New employees should make the effort to individually reach out to their teammates with an introductory email, suggesting a follow-up video call in order to properly get to know them. In doing so, they’ll have someone to lean on for help and guidance while getting to grips with a new role. Not only that, but building relationships with colleagues is important for mental health and workplace satisfaction, reducing stress and improving motivation.

Employees joining an organisation that is yet to invest time in remote team-building activities, could consider making their own suggestions. Team quizzes, virtual happy hours and book clubs are some great ways to engage as a team.

4. Arrange regular check-ins with a manager

When working remotely, employees don’t have the ability to simply lean over to a colleague’s desk and ask a question. Nor are they spending all day, every day in the same office as their manager. As such, new employees will find it harder to absorb all the necessary information for their role – they’ll receive less guidance and less training. In order to stay afloat during these difficult times, they’ll need to prioritise – focussing only on the work they are delivering in the here and now. New employees should arrange a weekly check-in with their manager to understand what they are expected to deliver in the coming weeks or months and address any concerns and queries they have in one go. This is also an opportunity to track progress.

Once social distancing measures are lifted, new recruits will have plenty of time to fully settle in and deliver to the best of their abilities.

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