A vast majority of professionals are currently working from home, and looking at the current situation, it seems this trend might continue and some of us might work from home for an indefinite period. Globally, employees are all going through the dramatic effect COVID-19, both personally and professionally. Despite the current situation, hiring for essential positions cannot simply stop because of the new remote working arrangements across the globe. In fact, it requires businesses to get more creative & innovative with their recruitment and onboarding processes. Virtual/remote onboarding is the answer.
Before the COVID-19 global pandemic, virtual or remote onboarding was largely reserved for employees who lived in another country or who have remote contracts; however, now it has become a necessity across the board. Virtual onboarding helps new hires acclimate to the social and professional expectations of their new work environment so they can proceed comfortably and effectively in their roles.
Typically, employee onboarding is done in person. On their first day at the office, you can greet them in the morning with a welcome package. You will show them their desk, introduce them to their team and others in the office, and explain the training process. By noon you will swing by their desk, to check if they are comfortable and ensure they have the company of their team for lunch. This constant and intentional communication over the upcoming days will help them get familiarized with the company culture, the work they will be doing, and the team they will be doing it with.
Obviously, in the current climate, this is not possible, but it does not diminish the need for employees to have structured onboarding. Although virtual onboarding is different, the overall idea is the same. For instance, an introductory handshake becomes a welcome message and the welcome lunch becomes a virtual coffee meeting.
Mastering remote onboarding is vital, especially in the current times, to ensure new team members are comfortable and are set up for success in their new role. Research indicates that organizations who fail to implement the right onboarding practices are likely to experience lower job satisfaction levels & motivation, and higher levels of attrition. Companies operating domestically and internationally have been compelled to quickly adapt and increase remote onboarding practices.
For the benefit of our recruitment and talent acquisition readers, we are sharing tips and best practices for conducting virtual on-boarding amid COVID-19.
Here are 11 tips and best practices for onboarding remotely
1. Help your new employee to get started with the right set-up
Ensure your new hires have all the necessary hardware they need for their job. Arrange for any hardware (laptop, monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc.) to be delivered or software to be remotely installed on their devices via your IT department before their scheduled start date.
Arrange for the IT team to install all necessary software (antivirus, password managers, etc.), including work-related software, department/team collaboration platforms (chat, file sharing, etc.). Also ensure their webcam, microphone, and sound are working fine for video conferencing.
2. Set employees up early and inform them about the onboarding process
Prepare for remote employees’ set-up before their joining date. Before your new employee even begins working, you need to lay the groundwork for their successful onboarding in your company and their new role.
To bridge this gap, communicate with your new hires to know what they need and what resources they might be missing. Make sure they know about the resources and benefits. Also, walk them through your onboarding process and apprise them about the training and induction plan they would go through.
3. Make HR paperwork digital
There are a lot of processes that can be initiated digitally before onboarding, such as putting all the new-hire paperwork together and collecting electronic signatures for all required documentation. Use an e-signing tool so that employees can sign digitally and quickly share contracts with you in a secure digital environment.
If you have an intranet portal for employees, creating an onboarding hub within that will be very useful.
An onboarding Portal will manage and control –
This way your onboarding portal becomes a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all onboarding related touchpoints like administration, communication, and induction materials. This can include the essentials like an employee handbook, policy documents, or training materials and will make your remote workers’ early days in the organization much easier.
4. Communicate company culture
As human touch is completely missing in virtual onboarding, it is more difficult for new employees to absorb the company’s work culture remotely. Hence, it is important to be more proactive and introduce them to the company culture and values early on.
A good remote introduction to the organization culture would include an overview of the company values, a high-level description of the company including history, milestones, mission & vision statement, business goals, etc., and an introduction to company’s code of conduct- commitment, inclusiveness, communication, etc. Also, share any available employee literature, such as an employee handbook, company presentations, etc.
5. Virtual introduction with the new team and key stakeholders
A very important part of the remote onboarding process is to assimilate the new employee into the team and organization and have them feel comfortable and welcome. Arrange for a virtual introduction meeting for new hires. Make your new remote employees feel like part of the team by setting up video calls/virtual coffee sessions with their team members and other key employees.
Launch a meet-and-greet plan for new employees. This plan should extend out to a few weeks to help new employees connect with other employees they should know to build their networks while working remotely. A meet-and-greet plan helps them know more about the organization by talking to employees in other departments and get a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of their colleagues.
These meetings could be one-on-one and/or group calls with co-workers, direct reports, and employees from other departments they will work closely with. It is important for new employees to feel socially comfortable and accepted by their team members, superiors, and other employees.
6. Assign a virtual mentor
Assigning a virtual mentor to the new employee is a good idea to speed up the onboarding time and enable more learning and growth. In the long run, a mentor can be an invaluable resource for seeking advice & feedback and can help define their career path at the company. However, make sure both the mentor and mentee understand what each wants and expects to build a more fruitful mentoring experience. When the physical distance is a reality for your mentoring program, program owners must focus efforts on maintaining high engagement digitally.
7. Arrange role-specific and IT training
Schedule role-specific training sessions using interactive training courses that are user-friendly, including live and pre-recorded demonstrations to assist in hand-holding and basic information retention for new hires. Engage relevant SMEs, trainers, and buddies, IT staff, and ensure regular follow-ups are made for any queries new employees may have.
8. Share internal communication processes with new employees
Communicate to new employees about the best ways they can contact support departments like admin, HR, IT for issues like troubleshooting communication technology, company email, group messaging tool, video conferencing tool, webphone application, etc. Different organizations may have different processes to communicate. Hence, it would also be worth having a conversation about what kind of queries to share via the different mediums of communications.
9. Set KRA, specific goals and expectations
Reporting managers should let the new employee have a clear understanding of their key responsibility areas and expectations from them. It is advised to develop and share a task calendar; define short and long-term goals and expectations; schedule daily/weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss projects, take updates, and also understand if they need any help to remove the roadblocks they are facing.
10. Keep communication lines open
New hires take time to settle in their new role and organization. They are usually apprehensive about their role and responsibilities. This feeling is exacerbated for remote employees. This is because they have the added disadvantage of needing to figure out many procedures and best practices on their own.
When onboarding remote employees, your primary aim should be to put them at ease by answering questions that many new hires are uncomfortable asking, for instance- vacation policies, bonuses, reimbursement procedures, etc.
11. Ask for feedback
Last, but still very important, leave some time towards the end of your onboarding program to gather feedback from your remote worker. Creating a strong feedback culture is very important, especially during uncertain times like today when you can’t always predict how employees will react or what they may need. Make feedback an important part of your culture from day one by integrating it into your onboarding process.
COVID-19 is undoubtedly impacting the way we operate and do business right now. While we navigate the changes and take precautions – leveraging technology, making prompt decisions and onboarding effectively can help you maintain some of your best practices and achieve already stretched business requirements.
If you would like more advice on remote hiring and onboarding, or any hiring needs please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org