Starting a new job can be daunting at the best of times – from meeting your new co-workers, to the pressure to make a good first impression and learning new processes and procedures. But how does it feel to apply for and begin a new job, when the country is in the midst of a global pandemic and everyone is working at home?
What if, rather than walking into an unfamiliar office on your first day, your new workplace is actually your living room, where you’ll be juggling introductory video calls and emails? What if, rather than having a cup of tea and getting to know your new team, your only interactions with them will be virtual and you probably won’t meet any of them in person for weeks or months?
Over the past year, VWFS has seen plenty of new starters joining departments throughout the business and we’ve worked hard to make the virtual onboarding process as easy as possible.
We have put into place new measures and greater flexibility including significant investments to support our employees, including the introduction of a Wellbeing Centre at our HQ, the training of Mental Health First Aiders to help staff struggling with mental health issues and further support for workers through an Employee Assistance Programme.
These have paid off with new starters embracing the wellbeing culture at VWFS and helping us to be recognised by Great Place to Work as the 18th best place to work in its annual ranking for Best Workplaces.
Sam Balls, Stephen Jay and James Tomlin, told us about their experiences of starting a new job at VWFS during lockdown.
Sam joined VWFS as our new PR & Social Manager on 11 March 2021, having previously worked for Rightmove. Applying for a new job during a lockdown came with its own challenges, as Sam explained:
“At first, I found the interview process quite daunting because everything was done virtually and it was perhaps a little harder to build instant rapport with my interviewers. But having said that, everybody I spoke to across the various stages of the process were very friendly and accommodating, which made the process feel as normal as possible under the circumstances.”
Meeting your new team and being shown around the office is usually one of the first things you do when you start a new job. But, for Sam, it wasn’t a typical introduction to his co-workers:
“I was slightly anxious about joining during lockdown and not being able to meet my new colleagues face to face. I was also genuinely worried that I wouldn’t be able to get my laptop to work on the first day! But everyone in the team has been really welcoming, which has made me feel right at home.”
Stephen started with us as Head of Sales for Skoda Financial Services on 4 January 2021, having previously worked as Regional Director for Nissan Motor. Given the circumstances, both the application and onboarding processes have been much easier than he anticipated. He told us about his experiences:
“When it came to the job application, in all honesty, the clarity of instruction, quality of website and the total professionalism of all those involved, made it far more straightforward than I expected. On the day I started, although it was nerve-wracking meeting everyone virtually, the on-boarding process was handled exceptionally.
Now that Stephen has been in his role for four months, how is he finding it? “I have settled in and am loving my new role. I’m pleased to be part of an organisation that will be at the forefront of all of the transformation that undoubtedly lies ahead for the sector."
James also joined VWFS on 4 January 2021 as General Manager – Customer Services, following four years spent with German appliance manufacturer Miele. With lockdown three beginning the day after he started, we asked James what impact this had on his early days with the company.
“Not being able to visit the office for an interview was challenging, as you like to see the environment you could be working in. Joining the day before lockdown three also made for an interesting induction!"
Before his time at Miele, James had spent 18 years working in financial services and was keen to get back into the sector, as he told us: “It wasn’t the best timing but I applied for the role because I wanted to get back into financial services while continuing to work for a world leading brand.”
In fact, it seems like choosing the right company wasn’t the biggest hurdle he faced.
“The most difficult part has been the lack of face-to-face interactions.” Continues James, “The video conferencing alternative is good but there is no substitute for sitting down with someone face to face.”
This has been a challenge that all companies have faced during lockdown. However, the HR team at VWFS quickly realised that different people prefer different methods of communications. That’s why VWFS has made a range of communications available to employees – prospective, new and longer term. This helped ease the transition and has seen the business use a range of different platforms including the more traditional phone call.
We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has joined us during the pandemic and wish them a long and successful career at VWFS.
We know it hasn’t been a traditional start to a new job but we’re proud of the way that everyone has adapted to new virtual onboarding processes to welcome new starters to the company.