How to Make New Hire Training Effective in a Remote Work Environment

Mar 22, 2021

Training new collectors is relatively the same whether it is being done in person or remotely, but the other aspects of bringing in new employees are not so easily replicated when those individuals are not in the office together, and companies need to make sure to focus time and attention on helping new hires bond with their co-workers and teaching them about the organization’s corporate culture, according to a panel of industry professionals who spoke on the topic during a recent webinar sponsored by Peak Revenue Learning.

Most companies have been forced to pivot to working remotely, and that includes new employees and collectors who are hired by the company. Most are using video platforms like Zoom or collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams for their training programs, with new employees watching and learning from their homes. But while that is all fine and good to teach them about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and those new hires can be tested on what they retain via online learning platforms, there is a bonding element that happens during the training process that is not as easily replicated when those new hires are not all in the same room. The webinar panelists each shared different ideas that they have rolled out to make their training programs fun and help acclimatize new hires to the culture they would be seeing if they were in the office.

“Remember what it was like for all of us to be a new hire — you don’t know what the culture is, you don’t know what the language is, you don’t know how friendly people are with each other,” said Judy Gray, the Chief Human Resources Officer at State Collection Service. “And one of the things that we’ve been able to do rather successfully is before a person even starts, while it’s still in the HR realm, we’re on the phone with them, we actually do a one-on-one orientation the week before they start when they get their equipment. So we kind of walk them through some of the some of the HR paperwork that you do ahead of time. And then we they ask us any questions if they need help learning how to use their computer system and how to get in to some of these new folks have never used teams before, except in the interview process. And so they already know, two or three of the HR people. And they’ve laughed a little they’ve gotten to know each other a little. So when they start on Monday morning at eight o’clock, they at least know a few people. And it makes it a little bit easier for them to feel a little bit more comfortable because you you get to know the culture when you talk to two or three different people.”

It is also important for companies to not forego the traditions and events that may have taken place when employees were training in the office and to replicate them as best as possible in an online setting, the panelists said. Companies should still be holding graduation ceremonies for new training classes, as well as other celebrations.

“Not only do we try to celebrate a graduation, but we try to celebrate even the little wins in between that, so that we know that we’re going on the same path,” said Kristy Loyer, the Subrogation Training Supervisor at Wilber Group. “They feel that they’re appreciated, the work that they’re putting is appreciated, even if it isn’t necessarily, you know, a $10,000 payment or something like that. At every little point, there’s wins that you can celebrate. And it kind of helps with the engagement also. So we do it on a multitude of different levels. Not necessarily just at graduation just throughout the whole their whole time here.”

Like trying to adjust how to celebrate milestones in a remote office environment, trainers need to understand that the way they may have taught a classroom full of new employees is not the same as teaching to a screen full of new employees. Trainers need to adjust their techniques to make sure their trainees are engaged.

“Attention-grabbing techniques are different when you cannot move around very much,” said Kenneth Aldrich, a Training Manager at Harris & Harris. “Facial animation is much more important if you’re used to moving around a room to gauge attention, walking up behind people breaking up sidebar conversations by you know, standing over somebody for a moment. The kinesthetics changes a lot when you are in an office chair.”

Keeping the mood and atmosphere light can help trainees feel more comfortable when working from home, and a good way to keep the mood light is to use games. The webinar panelists shared a number of different ideas that they have found to work, including scavenger hunts. To make the game relevant to their training, you can have the trainees hunt for data instead of items around their homes.

“Another way to do a scavenger hunt is a like a data scavenger hunt where you give a reward for someone who finds the, you know, relevant statute or the relevant policy and your policy manual, so that you’re rewarding people for diving into the data that they’re supposed to be studying anyway,” said Mindy Chumbley, the co-owner of Solverity. “It makes it fun.”

Chumbley also recommended books clubs, where trainees can read and discuss books aimed at helping their professional development.