Online onboarding in an offline world

RSL Queensland 23 June 2020
  • Media release

Handwritten notes, a corporate showbag and a virtual parade of pets: this is what onboarding new staff looks like in lockdown.

RSL Queensland was part-way through a period of significant staff growth when COVID-19 forced the shutdown of its offices across Queensland in March, but the ex-service organisation has risen to the challenge of hiring new staff remotely.

While the entire recruitment process is now conducted virtually, RSL Queensland employs thoughtful gestures and personal contact at every step to provide a warm, if socially distant, welcome to new team members.

Applicants are interviewed via video call to provide initial face-to-face contact, and the organisation’s HR department and respective team leaders maintain constant contact with successful candidates in the lead-up to their first day.

Chief HR Officer Leigh Goldsmith said two starter packs were couriered to new staff directly in readiness for their first day: the first with their equipment, tools and IT access; the second a “showbag” including RSL Queensland t-shirt, tote bag, information about the organisation and a handwritten welcome note.

“They also get phone calls on their first day from our IT department to make sure they are digitally connected and from our Employee Experience Coordinator to make sure they feel personally connected,” Ms Goldsmith said.

New staff are invited to join Workplace by Facebook, an internal communications platform, where they can meet their colleagues in an informal environment, start engaging in culture and conversation and post photos of their work-from-home routine and the pets who now substitute for “colleagues”.

instilling connection to purpose

“We are proud of RSL Queensland’s contribution to improving a veteran’s quality of life, and we want our new starters to feel the same sense of pride and connection to our purpose,” Ms Goldsmith said.

“In a COVID environment, connection to purpose, and feeling welcomed and part of the RSL Queensland family are more important than ever. 

“Ensuring our new starters can connect to our ICT network from Day 1 and that there is a friendly face to ‘virtually’ welcome them shows that we live our organisational values.  These gestures are genuine and meaningful and, from an experience point of view, give new staff a positive experience.”

 Ms Goldsmith said RSL Queensland’s personalised approach to recruitment, right from the initial outreach stage, was key to its success.

The organisation has received effusive and positive feedback from all staff onboarded during its COVID-19 lockdown.

“We knew we had cohesive recruitment, onboarding and employee experiences already so the only major action we had to take was translating that into a virtual world.

“There’s a strong correlation between the recruitment experience and staff retention, so we start by talking to candidates about RSL Queensland’s culture and that of their prospective team to help them form an idea of how we work and where they would fit into the organisation.

“We increase our contact and communication with candidates prior to them starting to keep them informed and reassured during this unusual time.

“Then we make sure we get the fundamentals right – activating their phone, setting up their laptop, ensuring they can log in and go – and connect them to the organisation from day one.”

growth still on track

RSL Queensland CEO Melanie Wilson said she was proud of how the organisation’s virtual recruitment and onboarding processes instilled candidates with confidence about the culture, security and warmth of RSL Queensland as an employer.

“RSL Queensland is in a growth phase – we’ve appointed 67 people across all areas of the business since last September so we can continue to expand the range of services we deliver to veterans,” Ms Wilson said.

“Our growth has remained consistent throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We are continuing to hire and welcome new staff and, most importantly, our staff retention levels are exceptionally high.

“We expect to appoint a number of additional roles in the coming six months to ensure we realise our vision of being the most valued and trusted partner to enrich the Australian Defence family’s quality of life.”