Effective new-hire onboarding isn’t a “nice to have” frill when it comes to training programs—it’s a “need to have” necessity. Research presented by the Brandon Hall Group suggests that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new-hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. As remote work becomes the norm, companies need to flex their creativity and offer onboarding that accommodates those employees who live and work in the field. The following strategies can help you transform remote workers into team members.
Welcome The New Hire
Help the remote employee feel welcome before onboarding by providing a preboarding kit. The kit can start with an email that includes relevant information they need to know before their first days, such as when to expect equipment, the agendas for their first day and week, and links to join initial video conferences. You may also want to provide early access to your employee intranet for your new employee to explore before day one. In addition, the kit can include company swag, the employee handbook, and benefits information. Remember to provide support for completing paperwork and making benefits-related decisions.
Any welcome kit is even more effective with a “welcoming partner” who meets with the new hire regularly and guides them through the first few weeks or months on the job. This go-to colleague answers questions, makes introductions to key people and shares information, tips, and advice to help the new hire settle in and be productive sooner.
Take Care Of Business
Starting a new role can be disorienting, and one way to ease the new employee into the job is to make the equipment and technology setup process as goof-proof as possible. Ensure the new hire receives all job-related equipment before their first day, and schedule a session between the new employee and experienced coworkers for training on how to use it. Also, provide training (via a virtual platform or self-paced study guides or videos) on email, videoconferencing and chat platforms, file management and sharing software, and security requirements (if necessary). Doing this before the start date minimizes technical issues and allows new employees to be fully present and more comfortable on day one.
Set Realistic Expectations
With remote workers, “out of sight/out of mind” can lead to miscommunication, frustration, and a revolving door for new hires. It doesn’t have to be this way—you can head off these issues before they start by clarifying what’s expected and how to meet those expectations. Set up virtual job shadowing or job training sessions to help new employees learn their new roles and get a higher-level understanding of what other teams and departments do. Create a coaching plan that includes a specific number of tasks to complete over the days and weeks following their training, making sure to provide points of contact to set them up for success. Finally, work with them to create goals for their first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job, and schedule regular check-in video conferences to gauge progress and ask and answer questions.
Focus On Culture
No onboarding is complete if it doesn’t spend time defining the company culture, which is the personality and character of the organization.
- Mission and values
- Organizational structure
- Why you do what you do
- Company history
- Overview of the company’s products and/or services
- HR policies and procedures
- How things get done
- How departments work together
One benefit of a remote orientation is that it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Rather than creating an information dump on the first day, consider using strategies like scavenger hunts, round-table discussions with members of the C-suite, and videos or podcasts that engage and inform.
Remote onboarding is as much about people as it is about processes. Don’t leave relationship creation to chance—build that into the program, so new hires start to feel part of the team from the beginning. This more personal “integration process” helps new hires assimilate into the work culture and build meaningful relationships with key stakeholders and colleagues.
1. Host Virtual Get-Togethers
Organize virtual events like morning coffee with HR, lunch with managers, and happy hour with team members.
These sessions can be themed for holidays, have a specific purpose and agenda for more structured events, or feature a game or activity that helps newcomers and tenured employees get to know one another. And remember to include remote workers in office celebrations like birthdays and work anniversaries. If you can, send a party kit with treats.
2. Make It Fun
Bring onboarding to life with interactive virtual activities like games, storytelling, and informal chats.
The first 90 days are critical for a new hire’s entry into an organization and one of the most strategic programs HR oversees. The onboarding process should not be robotic and should allow socializing and learning, which bridges the gap between engagement and assimilation.
3. Have Current Employees Create Introduction Videos
As part of your onboarding process, ask tenured employees to create introduction videos to share their interests and experiences with new colleagues. Hearing employees talk about their lives outside of work makes them more relatable. It helps to humanize the onboarding process and foster personal connections with colleagues, even while many are still joining remotely.
Onboarding can make the difference between a new employee feeling excited about starting with the company or looking for a new job before the virtual ink is dry on their paperwork. Don’t be shy about using innovative approaches to remote onboarding. When classroom walls and linear schedules don’t constrain you, your program can continue to make its mark over the first days, weeks, and months of a new hire’s experience.
Download the eBook The Pillars Of Strategic Employee Onboarding for insider secrets to launching a new hire training program that’s adaptive, personalized, and perfectly suited for your modern workforce. Also, join the webinar to discover how onboarding drives business success!