The onboarding process is a critical aspect of ensuring your new hires integrate into the business and get off to a good start. It’s more than just logistical challenges such as ensuring they have a computer and a company email address. A comprehensive onboarding process improves retention and productivity. One of the challenges that COVID-19 has presented is that many companies are for the first time in their history having to onboard remote employees.
You are doing a disservice to the company and its people if you spend time and effort on hiring the best candidates but then fail to onboard them effectively. Be cognizant that for many of your new hires this is the first time that they are joining a new company remotely and it may be their first remote position. HireForce have compiled our top 6 tips for onboarding remote employees below.
If you are hiring many new employees, consider hosting a virtual orientation over Zoom whereby they can meet each other, ask questions to senior employees and learn about the company’s vision and culture.
Ensure you provide new hires with any technology they need to do their job before their start date. This includes laptops, phones and office chairs. You also need to provide login details so they can access their company email account and instructions for connecting to a VPN.
New employees are likely to be eager to get to grips with any new platforms or software they will be using so provide guides and details of such in advance of their orientation. This gives proactive employees the opportunity to get to grips with this technology ahead of time which may help settle any nerves they have.
You don’t want to make a poor first impression. Employees will remember the disorganisation and chaos they experienced if they didn’t have working technology on the first day. Organise training with the IT department for new hires. During this training ensure remote employees are given a tutorial on how to use file-sharing platforms and collaborative tools such as Google Drive. Use this opportunity to also communicate troubleshooting procedures and the contact details for the IT service desk in case of technological issues.
- Set Goals and Expectations
Communicate with new employees exactly how their roles and responsibilities contribute to the overall objectives and vision of the company. Understanding how they fit into the overall strategic direction of the company will serve to motivate them.
Those drawn to remote working environments are often incredibly self-sufficient and self-motivated. However, in an attempt to maintain some level of visibility they may push themselves to the point of breaking particularly as they try to make a favourable impression as they initially join the company. Prevent such exhaustion from occurring by clearly communicating expectations in terms of working hours and overtime requirements. Flexibility should be at the forefront of remote working relationships and managers should be encouraged to have discussions surrounding this at the outset.
- Focus on Culture
In a virtual environment, impromptu and casual conversations at the tea station or in the canteen no longer occur. So encourage new hires to set up virtual coffee breaks with their fellow colleagues. Give them the authority to block out time in their calendar to make connections with colleagues as otherwise, they may fear retribution if they schedule such breaks.
Conveying the company culture can be a challenge when the new hire and the entire team are working remotely. It can feel rather abstract to declare the company’s culture during orientation but clearly defining it is essential to ensuring congruence. Consider also providing a welcome pack to new employees which explains the values and beliefs of your organisation.
It’s important that early on during the onboarding process employees meet other team members. Insisting that current employees turn their cameras on during video calls is essential. It can be intimidating and off-putting to meet only faceless individuals. Create a welcoming environment and you’ll see new employees embed themselves within the organisation swiftly.
- Assign Coaches
Assigning coaches to new staff can help improve their perception of the company by illustrating that senior staff care about their development. Regular coach catch-up meetings are recommended. These meetings are an opportunity to inquire about their well-being and their workload. These conversations should be kept informal and frequent. More seasoned staff members are also best placed to answer questions about the firm and convey the company’s culture. Ensure the coach is not someone to whom the new employee reports directly. Ideally, the coach should be from a different team within the same department so they are knowledgeable of the role and responsibilities but to whom the new hire can be open and honest.
It’s also essential that the company has deadlines for requesting and receiving feedback, particularly for new hires. New employees may feel uncomfortable requesting feedback but equally, be uncertain of how they are performing. Thus, opportunities to receive feedback are crucial. Prompting management to provide feedback regularly and setting deadlines for this will ensure new hires know the standard expected of them and can take corrective action if necessary.
- Offer ongoing support
It’s important that you don’t take a short term view when it comes to onboarding. Orientation may last one day and formal onboarding a week but informal onboarding and employee integration can last for months. Adapting to the methods and processes in a company can take time particularly in a virtual environment. And not all employees are the same. Some take longer to settle into their new roles than others. Onboarding should not be thought of as a once-off event. Instead, offer your new hires ongoing support and ensure they are aware of the assistance that is available to them as they enter this new stage of their professional career.
Hiring Managers, please feel free to reach out to Robert F. Kennedy at Robert.Kennedy@hireforce.ie if you have any questions.