An effective onboarding process is proven to improve employee retention and reduce the amount of time for an employee to work productively.
Emulating this process remotely can be challenging for both the new employee and an employer. With employers having to figure out new ways to deliver training and orientation and new hires starting a new job from their kitchen table, without meeting their colleagues in person.
The most important part of remote onboarding is to help new employees settle into their role as quickly as possible whilst also gaining a sense of the business’s culture and values. If done properly, your new starter will feel at ease when the time comes to transition into the office.
No matter how much you prepare, technology can never be 100 per cent reliable so it’s best to start implementing some processes ahead of your new hire’s start date so that their first day can be used more effectively.Things that can be organised before they start include: getting HR documents signed, sending them IT manuals and handbooks, and setting up access to key communication channels and other platforms. There is software which allows you to provide an e-signature rather than printing off all HR documents, signing them and posting them which is a great time saver. It can also be helpful to put your new starter in touch with the IT team so they can get fully set up in advance and then be raring to go on their first day in their new role.
It is wise to ensure your new starter has all the equipment they need for their role, ahead of time if possible. Similarly, to providing them system access in advance, this also speeds up the time in which they can settle in and focus on the job at hand. Make sure they know who to contact should they have any issues, IT or otherwise and provide them with your IT security and data protection policies so they can familiarise themselves with them in advance.
Much of a new employee’s first week would be spent meeting their colleagues and getting to know the team dynamics. This is made much harder when working remotely so it’s important to make a conscious effort to help them settle in and get to know people. Thankfully, video conferencing is a great way to get to know people’s faces and personalities so that when everyone does eventually return to the office, your new employee will be able to identify people they’ve met virtually. In their first week, they should be introduced to their co-workers, manager, and employees in other departments that they’re likely to work closely with. This can be done with a mix of one-to-one and group sessions and can be informal such as a virtual coffee break format.
If your business isn’t used to online training, this can be one of the biggest challenges in the onboarding process. It’s absolutely essential that your HR and IT teams work together to establish an effective online training tool. The best online training will have sections for learning,answering questions and providing feedback. Encouraging collaborative learning is also a great option as this helps your new starter to forge relationships with the wider team. Involving them in a project can help to reinforce team dynamics and assigns your new employee with some responsibility early on.Getting the balance right between training a new starter and overloading them with information is key, so incorporate a mixture of training styles including videos, handbooks, group sessions and one-to-ones.
It can be more difficult for a new employee to settle into anew job remotely, especially when it comes to building connections with people.By assigning them with a mentor, they’ll have someone they can reach out to if they have any questions or problems instead of worrying where to turn. Effective mentoring programmes are proven to have long term benefits, especially in terms of keeping new employees engaged and progressing their development. The mentor can support the new employee with their training and also help to give them abetter sense of the company’s culture which can easily be diluted or lost when working remotely.
In normal circumstances a new starter would always have someone close by to call upon should they have any issues. In addition, general office chit chat would mean they would pick up on things more quickly. With these elements much harder to replicate for remote new starters, it is vital that managers have daily contact with new employees and ensure someone is always available if help is needed outside of these contact points. Setting up regular meetings will help add structure to their development, but it is also helpful to agree on another method of contact for ad-hoc enquiries such as direct messaging on slack or a good old fashioned email.
New employees want to be engaged and motivated to succeed in their new role and a successful onboarding process will reinforce this. By setting clearly defined short and long-term goals alongside a detailed plan,your new employee will have a focus to work towards over the coming months. It can be more difficult to monitor progress of remote workers so it’s important to discuss your expectations of them early on. This could include the company’s values, the team’s objectives and the new hire’s responsibilities. Setting SMART and attainable goals is good practise for all onboarding processes as it allows managers to ensure employees are performing to the best of their ability and identify areas that may need improvement. Ultimately this will benefit the employee and the business.
It may not currently be possible for your new starter to work from the office but as Government guidelines begin to relax you could arrange to meet in person (following social distancing measures). This will demonstrate to your new employee that you are actively engaged in helping them to settle into the business and care about their wellbeing. Having the opportunity to meet up informally before the transition back into the office will make things feel a little more normal and the transition will be much less daunting.
While there are lots of things employers are having to adapt to, the key things to consider when preparing to onboard a new employee remotely are based around the same core principals as they’ve always been. Ensuring that new starters have a positive experience and first impression of the company, have the tools and equipment to carry out their role and are able to integrate comfortably with the rest of the team.
We’d love to hear how your recruitment processes have changed during the pandemic.
Staff absenteeism refers to periods of absence from work that can become frequent and habitual. Employment lawyer, Owen John sets out tips for managing staff absenteeism during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.Read more
Rosie Sweetman, Director of Sweetmans & Partners, reflects on the business challenges of the past few months and how we can use them to rethink our roles as coaches, leaders and businesses.Read more