Tips for Remote Onboarding
for new starters during social distancing.
Companies of all sizes are finding ways to onboard remote employees and this will become more common in the next few weeks and months ahead. Below are some tips to ensure your remote onboarding is a success. Written in association with Joanne Pearson, Director at HR Business Solutions.
The main priority is to ensure that your new recruit gets a sense of belonging, to the team and organization, from day one. Working remotely throws up a few challenges to this but with a bit of creativity this is still achievable. A good start is to acknowledge that we are in unusual times and discuss how communication works best for them, put them at ease so that they will feel comfortable coming to you rather than concealing any concerns; and don’t forget to make it fun too!
Make them Feel Welcome a variety of initiatives which need to be personal to your business and consistent, the key is to create a feeling of belonging as quickly as possible. If in doubt over-communicate during the remote onboarding process, and that means lots of virtual meetings and conversations with the team. Gestures such as sending small gifts like mugs, stationary, gif vouchers etc with the IT hardware is a good start. An onboarding video message from the MD/CEO is always worthwhile and then fun elements such as a ‘get to know us’ quiz with the team and a ‘highlight of my week’ chat on a Friday. Don’t underestimate the value of these little extras.
Ensure the Technology is in place ahead of the start date and deliver all new necessary hardware to your new employee, including the basics such as laptop, mouse, keyboard, monitor, mobile phone etc and determine their WIFI capacity is sufficient for their work needs. You should decide before they start what access they will need to resource, such as intranet and company programs and systems. Then ensure that the relevant company software is installed or access available and ready to go, security guidelines are set and any instructions they need are available. Don’t forget to give them the log-in details for the access to information they might need.
Easy HR Administration is imperative to ensure a smooth transition rather than using valuable time in the first week. Complete and send out all paperwork such as contracts, any health and safety policy, organization chart etc so they know who to go to for help in certain areas, the company handbook if in hard copy format. Alternatively –
Create an Onboarding portal – if you are onboarding remotely for the foreseeable future this would be ideal for a single point for all company information, induction and communication. There are some very good internal software tools that can be utilized like Microsoft Teams and Slack if you do not have a bespoke tool.
Personal Onboarding Plan is really important, as your new employee will want set goals, objectives and one to one face time with their line manager. The plan should be a 30/60/90 day roll out with actions and success points. This can evolve and change with your employee as they develop.
Building Internal Relationships quickly with the hiring/line manager communicating to the rest of the organisation, so their new colleagues can welcome them virtually. A list of all the key people the employee should connect with in their early days should be available, including direct reports, a buddy (see next point), key peers, and representatives from other functions. Video meetings with these individuals should be scheduled ideally in the induction plan prior to start date.
The hiring manager should video meet daily with the new employee at first, and then move ‘check-in’ to two or three times per week once a relationship is established; whatever works best for you both. The manager should then be having a weekly catch up to establish goals for the following week – see Review and Set Development below.
Have a Buddy Scheme set up, so that a new starter has a ‘go to’ individual to air any concerns or questions, this should be a peer group colleague not HR or the line manager ideally. They can be involved in talking them through company procedures, introducing the relevant people in the company, offering advice and having informal (virtual) coffee catch ups and chats. Always encourage video face to face chats rather than telephone calls.
Embed Culture fast, through regular, consistent and varied video interaction; this is key to set the tone and expectation of the company culture and communication. Maybe a team activity to give examples of demonstrating/living the Values in their work. Use a variety of activities (some suggestions above) and open door access to a Buddy and direct line manager so the new team member has a really positive and smooth transition into their role and your organisation. This will all help to both embed your culture but also build their longer-term personal success and development.
Set Objectives earlyand with clear tasks and purpose; this will not only help your employee to settle into the role but also feel like they are achieving and adding value to the team. It is a good idea to set a combination of personal role specific tasks and if possible, project work linked to the whole team, so they feel part of the wider internal network and team interaction. Training should involve tangible tasks that need the use of systems and encourage new employees to interact with colleagues and set up conversations through video meetings. Keep your new employee as engaged as possible.
Review and Set Development through monitoring and assessing the progress of your new remote worker during the onboarding process. This can easily be done by setting short- and longer-term goals in the weekly one to one with the line manager to review progress, discuss priorities and training needed/ plans moving forward. Your new team member should understand expectations and what success looks like. You may also find that the remote onboarding process needs an extended period from your more traditional office scenario for a more realistic transition.
Also, this is an opportunity to future proof the onboarding process, so get some feedback from your new team member and review ‘what the new normal’ looks like to them. The value of remote onboarding cannot be underestimated at a time when video and distance working needs to be as efficient, productive and positive; this will ensure success for new employees and businesses in 2020.
Ultimately the key in this current virtual world is – think differently, get creative and get onboard; you’ve got this!