If you spent the past nine months in a ‘holding pattern’ for hiring, you’re not alone. Despite being a skillset and a position that many companies can’t live without, some companies didn’t have the cash lying around to bring on corporate finance and accounting talent.

But with 2021 now well underway, many companies are getting back to the swing of things in hiring, looking to either replace staff that left or augment their team in response to the looming regulatory changes.

Connecting New Hires to Your Staff in the COVID Era

Understandably, with work from home orders still in effect, this has presented a challenge—how do we hire and onboard new talent when we can’t exactly bring them in?

Unfortunately, this leaves a big concern for companies. Hiring is a disruptive time for the new employee and the team, and it’s critical to ensure that new employees are able to make connections and understand the culture as they join your team. This leaves many asking how they can onboard a new employee when there’s not as much true face-to-face interaction.

Luckily, a recent article from Accounting WEB had four tips for facilitating your hiring process. Though written for firm hiring, the same goes for bringing accounting or finance talent into your own team. Here’s what they had to offer:

Balancing Zoom Burnout with a Welcoming Environment

Technology presents a challenge and an opportunity in hiring. Is your new hire ready to embrace your current stack? What tools are you leveraging to drive connections?

Videoconferencing—at least in certain circumstances—is imperative. In turn, establishing a balance between mandatory and optional videoconferencing can go a long way in helping everyone. The problem with this is the fact that at this point, several people are likely to experience “video fatigue” and avoid turning on their camera during calls. 

Unfortunately for new hires, this leaves them feeling disconnected—and this lack of connection can end in demoralization for the team. Author Joseph Cihek notes,

“It may be tempting to roll out of bed for a morning meeting and keep the camera off to hide the messy hair and pajama shirt, but I recommend taking the 10 minutes to fix your hair and throw on fresh clothes. You and your coworkers will be able to bond more effectively, creating strong relationships that last long after the onboarding process is over.”

While this is vital and organizations should be supportive of and prioritize their employees’ mental health, some calls need face to face while others can go without a camera.

Encourage Communication and Emphasizing Openness

There’s no such thing as a dumb question. If you thought it was hard to tell when a coworker or subordinate was struggling with a task pre-COVID, imagine what happens when there’s never face-to-face interaction.

In the work from home environment, you can have a morning chat with a staff member, give them a task, and then not hear from them for three hours. Either they are completing the task, or they are sitting there with no idea what to do. 

Being able to emphasize your and your team’s openness to fielding any questions, new hires will feel more comfortable faster and ultimately deliver the increased productivity the team needs.

Understanding the When in Communication

One of the many reasons people enjoy working from home is the increased flexibility. One can easily process laundry throughout the day or run errands that would otherwise be unfeasible if you had to worry about commuting. However, this can also create difficulties when it comes to team communication. 

Understanding how to balance this new found flexibility with quality matters, and it’s important to maintain communication with your team so they feel that they can take care of personal matters without compromising work quality.

When new employees join your practice, tell them about the flexibility they can enjoy while working remotely, but also balance the need for communication with the avoidance of burnout. As we discussed, too-frequent reporting can lead to decreased productivity.

“Despite the idea that frequent reporting “enhances the timeliness and therefore usefulness of the reported information for decision-making,” it also is heavily correlated with burnout. As noted in Frequent Worker Reporting Lowers Worker Performance,

“High frequency, the study concludes, serves to increase “avoidance orientation,” defined as “an individual’s tendency to focus on avoiding unfavorable judgments of competence” rather than on developing competence for the work at hand.”

All the Small Things

In a normal office setting, it is easy to tell an employee “good job in that meeting” in passing. It becomes significantly harder to do this in a virtual setting.

Especially for your younger staff, providing positive reinforcement can go a long way in delivering productivity and satisfaction. For junior staff, this informal praise is highly effective and increases their feeling of purpose within the firm. These feelings of accomplishment and purpose are imperative for developing the next generation of the profession and are bolstered through informal praise.

Productivity, Communication, and Mental Health: Running HR Management in 2021

Controllers are finding themselves increasingly responsible for the hiring and management of employees. Motivation is a management skill that few leaders have. If you’re looking to keep your top performers on board and productive as we approach a return to normal, we invite you to join us for all the latest. Get to know more about the benefits of joining the Controllers Council here.

Additional Resources

Should Corporate Finance Switch to Long-Term Remote Work?

Should HR Outsourcing Be on Your Return to Normal Radar?

Planning Your Reentry: HR Tips for Getting Back to Work