9 top tips for HR and People teams to onboard employees remotely

Charlotte Nicol
Published on 30th September 2020
4 min read

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

 Our first impressions of a new job create an impression that lasts months or even years. For organizations, can prove costly down the line. A study by CareerBuilder found that 16% of HR managers said poor onboarding lowers productivity, while 12% said it leads to higher employee turnover. Despite this, Gallup found that only 12% of employees thought their company did a good job of onboarding.

The need for better onboarding has been made greater by the switch to remote working. With many new employees set to be onboarded remotely, HR and People leaders are not only having to improve their existing onboarding strategies but adapt them for remote working too.

So, where do you start? Here are nine simple but effective ways to help you get remote onboarding right.

1. Start the onboarding process far in advance

Making employees feel part of the organization before their first day can reduce their anxiety and make them feel at home.

Therefore, aim to get new hires up to speed with some of the company basics before they officially start in their new role.

An HR and People system can provide employees early access to resources so they can become acquainted with policies and documents ahead of their start date. In addition, it can also support with understanding your organization better when it comes to teams, names and faces of people across the organization and the systems they’ll use to manage things like vacation time.

2. Make sure new starters have the right tools

Will your new starter need a laptop? A cellphone? A keyboard, mouse and secondary screen? If so, make sure they receive all of these items before their first day.

There’s nothing worse than spending your first morning fiddling around with hardware – or worse, finding you don’t have the tools to do your job properly. In fact in one survey they found 39% of new hires found their technology wasn’t properly set up when they started their new job.

You should also make sure new starters are familiar with cyber security policies and rules around using tech when working from home, and that they know who to contact if they need help.

3. Do the admin

Employees will want to get stuck in on day one – not be bombarded with admin.

Therefore, make sure you complete as much of the paperwork as you can ahead of time. You could add it as a process to the HR and People system that you have, so when they start familiarizing themselves with policies, they can also fill out any new starter documentation ahead of time.

4. Welcome your new hire

Nothing says ‘we value you already’ quite like a big welcome.

Managers should hold induction calls with your new hire to introduce them to different departments – HR, IT and, of course, the team they’ll be working with. In addition, managers should set up or write a list of those who the new starter should have intro meetings with.

Also, you could send a gift pack with some branded goodies such as a mug, a notebook and a pen in time for their first day.

5. Set boundaries and goals

Managers won’t be able to motivate their teams face-to-face, so it’s important that expectations are made clear from the outset.

If working hours are flexible, what are the core hours you expect the new starter to be available? What targets do you need them to reach? How often will you check in with them? Things will run more smoothly when people understand what is expected of them.

6. Familiarize new hires with your remote working channels

Another great way to help employees hit the ground running is to make sure they are set up on your communication channels (Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams etc.) and know how to use them.

You may want to set up a brief training session to help them get acquainted. This is something managers or HR should organize for day one, as your new starter may need these tools at their disposal right away.

7. Give your new hire a buddy

No matter how many materials you’ve prepared for them to read and watch, or how efficient your onboarding schedule is, your new hire will probably be bursting with questions about the company and how it works.

However, they might feel they don’t want to constantly bother their line manager, which is why having a mentor responsible for new hires can help. It will also give them a flavor of the company’s culture, and get to know someone within the organization well other than their manager.

8. Encourage managers to set up regular catch-ups

Communication is the number one challenge cited by remote workers. That’s why it’s so important for managers to schedule frequent catch-ups with remote employees.

You might want to encourage managers to make these very frequent during someone’s first weeks with the company – such as the beginning and end of the week. Video calling in the catch ups will make the contact feel more personal so where it’s possible, managers should consider switching their cameras on.

9. Continuously monitor your onboarding process to look for improvements

After they’ve had time to settle in, ask your new hires how they felt about the onboarding process and how they think it could be improved.

You can use their feedback to tweak the process in the future, so that it gets better with every new hire. You might want to send out a survey or a series of them so you can understand how your employees feel about each stage of the onboarding process. 

Make your remote onboarding seamless

Enabling your people to really thrive is the key objective of great onboarding, and that should be the same whether they’re remote or not.

Providing your organization with a much-needed onboarding overhaul could be the first step towards making your workforce feel valued, empowered and engaged in these changing times.

Onboarding for remote employees might be more of a challenge but by focusing on it now, you can open the doors to the best talent, no matter where they may be geographically.

Beyond onboarding, there is still plenty more that HR and People leaders must consider. Discover the rest of the steps you need to take to start developing an amazing workforce experience. Download our eBook, Six ways to create amazing workforce experiences today.

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