How to Onboard New Employees and Volunteers Amid COVID-19

By Background Investigation Bureau | Posted on August 10, 2020

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2020 looks nothing like anyone thought it would. Instead of managing your park and recreation agency from your office, you’re hosting Zoom calls and overseeing things via online resources. And instead of preparing for the fall with your usual processes, you’re creating an entirely new path, including hiring new employees during a worldwide pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has produced a unique set of circumstances for park and recreation agencies, their staff and all the people who visit. With all these changes and uncertainty, as well as necessary restrictions that limit you from meeting in person, we have provided some tips and solutions to help you safely onboard new employees and volunteers moving forward.

Virtually onboard new hires and volunteers

Facilitate background checks, post-interview assessments and other pre-employment screenings online, rather than in person. Once you’ve selected your top choice candidate, establish a system for digital onboarding. Send out offer letters via email and trade physical new hire paperwork for PDFs and e-signatures.

When using Background Investigation Bureau for background screening, our clients’ applicants are provided with a private portal called Applicant Express. Applicant Express will automatically email applicants personalized login credentials once your organization places the order. Once your applicant logs in, they can initiate the background check themselves, as well as view the progress and status of their background checks, physical exams or drug testing. This includes if an order is awaiting a decision from your park and recreation agency.

Remain communicative with candidates

The job search — and life in general — can be stressful already, and even more so during a global pandemic. Try to be mindful of this and the anxiety your candidates and volunteers probably have, and make your messages personal, transparent and helpful. Use phone interviews to initially screen qualified candidates, then turn to video for more in-depth conversations. Video interviews are more personable, establish trust and allow candidates to show their personality a bit. When you provide candidates and volunteers with clear instructions, conducting the onboarding process online can cut down on travel costs and expedite the process.

Prioritize the health and safety of everyone involved

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using technology as much as possible to complete tasks that would have previously involved the exchange of paper or had candidates onsite. This includes things like using an electronic application, conducting interviews remotely, and holding training sessions over video instead of at the workplace.


When hiring remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, HR staff can:

  • Adapt hiring strategies and embrace digital recruiting, interviewing and onboarding.
  • Remain communicative with candidates.
  • Prioritize the health and safety of everyone involved.

We hope you found this information valuable and that it helped you realize you have all the tools, technology and strategies you need to succeed in hiring new staff members and volunteers for your agency — helping you take care of your community and do your job strongly and confidently, despite the uncertainty. 

Background Investigation Bureau is NRPA’s exclusive background screening provider.