April 8, 2021
Not too long ago, hiring and onboarding employees remotely was a new experience for everyone. Now, we’ve had a year to get the hang of things. COVID and the chaos it wreaked on everyone’s work (and personal) life is no longer an excuse for inadequate processes. What is your company doing to ensure processes are in place for long-term remote onboarding success?
Onboarding is critical as it lays the foundation between an employee and their new workplace. It introduces new hires to everything they need to know in order to do their job well and be fulfilled professionally. You’ll be setting up processes that a hire could use for years to come. In fact, 69% of employees will stay with a company longer if they have a positive onboarding experience, and successful onboarding is even more critical when remote. There is no chance of in-person quick fixes. Everything must be meticulously planned. So what can you do to ensure a smooth onboarding for your new hires?
Laptops & Home Office Supplies
To ease first day jitters, set your new employee up for success with pre-onboarding. Ship them their laptop, mouse, keyboard, and any other hardware as soon as possible to account for shipping delays. Have IT grant them access to internal systems so their first day of onboarding can run smoothly. Set time for IT to meet with the new hire to assist with set up. If IT is overwhelmed, consider creating step-by-step videos explaining the set up.
Welcome Box & Note
And remember, the first day of a new job should feel exciting. Without a physical welcoming committee, first days can feel a little dull. Along with the tech necessities, send a welcome box with branded gear and a note signed by your CEO or team leader to show new hires you’re psyched to have them on board!
Official onboarding should begin on your new employee’s first day. As a first step, assign your new hire an onboarding buddy. This will be someone they can turn to when they inevitably have questions. Ideally, make this someone they will work with a lot in their day to day so they can start to build rapport.
Variety of Onboarding Meetings
Never approach onboarding as a “one and done” situation. Onboarding meetings are many and varied. They should include: role specific meetings, HR meetings, general company processes meetings, and friendly “getting to know you” meetings. Human Resources meetings are especially important during onboarding. Ensure a meeting is set between your new hire and HR Manager to cover benefits along with your sexual harassment policy. This meeting is a good time for your HR Manager to express that your employee can come to HR with any problem they’re having either at work or at home. Make sure your new employee knows they’ll have your support should they need it.
Finally, mix structured informational meetings with informal one-on-ones where they can get to know the team so they don’t feel overwhelmed with material. Heavily schedule their first days so they don’t feel lost or neglected. Make sure peers know not to be late or reschedule meetings with new team members. This would be a bad first impression. While one-on-one virtual meetings are essential, consider recording complimentary videos to go over key processes that the new employee can review on their own or refer back to. For example: a video explaining your expenses policy and how to file them.
If your company has formalized DE&I training, your new employee should complete it within their first two months. If your company doesn’t have formal training, stress your commitment to diversity and inclusion and share how your organization is working towards making positive changes. If possible, consider onboarding or conducting trainings as cohorts to build comradery. Many remote employees report feeling isolated or lonely. Finding ways to combat this is important.
Plan your onboarding with the results you want to see in mind. Have clear, measurable milestones for the onboarding process depending on each role. For example, perhaps Sales Reps should be able to give a 4 out of 5 star pitch by the end of week two. By the end of onboarding, the new employee should also have a clear understanding of their short and long term goals so they are able to hit the ground running. And remember, while check-ins with managers are helpful, new hires shouldn’t feel like they need to go to their manager after completing each task.
Once a new employee has settled into their role a bit, consider surveying them on their onboarding experience. Encourage them to be as honest with their opinions as possible. If they feel improvements could be made to your onboarding process, you want to know so you can provide a better employee experience going forward. Onboarding is always a work in progress!
Once onboarding it complete, managers can focus more on reinforcing the information and best practices that were taught in the weeks prior. The more time that passes, employees will customize their work flow and find what works best for them. This should be encouraged and regular check-ins with managers can ensure no one’s personal way of doing things gets in the way of productivity or success.
Even though things are slowly going back to “normal”, many will still be working from home for a while. In fact, with almost 60% of U.S. workers preferring to continue working remotely once the pandemic restrictions are lifted, this could be a long-term shift for companies. Companies might listen to their employees and not rush them back into offices, or make remote work permanent going forward. Either way, you can expect to make more remote hires throughout the year. It’s time to review and formalize remote processes that were likely rushed a year ago. Use the tips outlined above to ensure your team members make the most out of their first few weeks on the job.
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