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8 tips for onboarding employees remotely

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You only get one chance to make an excellent first impression on your new hires. Make a bad one, and it could harm the organisation 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.

With the global shift to remote working, there’s a need for better employee onboarding.

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

1.    Start the employee onboarding process early

Helping employees to feel part of the organisation before their first day can reduce anxiety and make them feel at home. Aim to get new hires up to speed with the basics before they officially start their new role.

An HR and People system can give employees early access to resources to become acquainted with policies and documents before their start date. It will also help your new people get familiar with names and faces in the organisation and the systems they’ll use for processes like leave applications.

2.    Give new hires the right tools and tech

Nearly 40% of new hires said their technology wasn’t properly set up when they started their new job.

Make sure your new starter has everything they need – like a laptop, phone, and internet connection – 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 you need to do your job.

Another great way to help employees hit the ground running is to set them up on your internal communication channels (such as Slack and Microsoft Teams) and point them towards the relevant training.

Organise this for day one, as your new starter may need to use these tools right away.

New starters should also get familiar with cybersecurity policies and rules around using tech when working from home. Also, let them know who to contact if they need tech support.

3.    Get on top of admin

New hires don’t want to be bombarded with admin on their first day, so send them as much paperwork as you can beforehand.

You can add this as a process to your HR and People system, so when they start familiarising themselves with policies, they can also fill out any new starter documentation.

4.    Welcome your new hire

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

Managers should hold induction calls with new hires to introduce them to various departments.

Also, managers should set up or write a list of those with whom the new starter should have intro meetings.

A gift bag with branded goodies like a mug, notebook and pen is also a nice touch.

5.    Set boundaries and goals

Since teams won’t always meet face to face, it’s vital to set clear expectations upfront.

Discuss things like working hours, key performance indicators or targets, and how often you’ll meet for a catch-up.

Things will run more smoothly when people understand what’s expected of them.

6.    Use the buddy system

Your new hire will probably have many questions – even with the most efficient remote onboarding process and the most comprehensive orientation material.

They might feel more comfortable asking a colleague or buddy than they would their line manager. It will also give them a flavour of the company’s culture and get to know someone other than their manager.

7.    Encourage regular catch-ups with managers

Communication is the number one challenge cited by remote workers. That’s why frequent catch-ups between managers and remote employees are essential, especially during the first few weeks.

Since these meetings will be virtual, have a video-on rule for managers and employees to make the interaction more personal.

8.    Monitor and improve the onboarding process

Once they’ve settled in, ask your new hires how they experienced the remote onboarding process and what could be improved. Use their feedback to tweak the process in the future to get better with every new hire.

You could also run a survey to understand how your employees feel about each stage of the onboarding process.

Make your remote onboarding seamless

The key objective of great onboarding is to help your people thrive – whether they’re in the office or working remotely.

An onboarding overhaul could be the first step towards making your workforce feel valued, empowered and engaged in these challenging times.

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